A-Z of Interim: Y is for … Year End!

Top view of pen,sunglasses,a cup of coffee and notebook written with Year End Review on wooden background.

Image: ID 132079350 © Mohamad Faizal Ramli | Dreamstime.com

How was your interim year?  Did 2019 bring wonderful clients, successful assignments and career satisfaction? Or are you still wondering if Santa mixed up the delivery last Xmas?  I’ve certainly had my share of brickbats and bouquets over the last 12 months.

Which is why I’ve learned to finish my year by reviewing what’s worked, ditching what doesn’t and setting intentional goals for the next year. Also known as a Year-End-Review.

Earghh! I hear you say. I know, it’s tempting to be thinking about festive cocktails and canapés at this time, but doing the preparation up front can put you a step ahead when the mistletoe has faded.  Besides, a new decade is snapping at your heels!

So, how do I do it?

Grab a pencil and paper. Yes, I know that is a bit analogue but trust me on this, writing things old-school style gets it out of your head and into reality.

Look back, not in anger! Review your last assignment.  Think about what you delivered, how you interacted with the client. What are you most proud of? Where do you think you could have done things differently?  Was it satisfying, or just a means to pay the bills?  How did you get the work? What was your day rate? Dig deep and list everything you can think of.

Edit, then eliminate.  Stop wasting time on the activities that don’t support success. As an interim, your personal brand is an important factor in generating that next assignment. Word of mouth recommendations are a wonderful thing, but sometimes not enough. Interim Providers can be a useful way into a business, but are not the only means of securing work.   Ask yourself if you need to create a sales pipeline in a different way.  Do you need to do more networking?  Do you need to adapt your offering?  Do you need to polish up your look – in real life, on social media? Out with the obsolete!  Be ruthless with ways of working that no longer serve you.

Intent and action. What goals are you going to set yourself for next year?  Do you want to have more consistent assignments? Do you want to add new skills to your interim toolkit? Do you want to earn more?  Be expansive and set yourself some gorilla-sized goals.  Sometimes as interims we are so busy delivering that we don’t think about a bigger future. The consequence is that we keep our goals (and our souls) small.  Here your only limit is your imagination.

Of course, having big goals is great, but with greatness comes the responsibility for  action. Nothing ever grew in a garden because the gardener sat on the fence thinking about plants. You need to get your hands dirty.  Write down all the steps you are going to take in the next 12 months. Review your list regularly and flex your plans as your circumstances change. Dream, then do!

I’m curious, how do you plan your year?  What are your goals for 2020.  Answers on the blog please. 

 

 

 

 

 

A-Z of Interim: R is for…Reputation

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Image: © Iqoncept | Dreamstime.com

‘You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well’. – Jeff Bezos

The founder of the world’s largest online retailer is on to something here. Being an interim requires all sorts of superhero skills. Doing difficult things goes with the day-job.  Nevertheless, one of the hardest things when starting out is building – and maintaining – a good professional reputation.

When you take the step from corporate life to independent contractor, you become less able to trade on where you worked before. On planet interim, it’s results that matter, not job titles! And, once you are up and running with that first assignment, it’s what you do, and what others say about what you do that builds your reputation and secures the subsequent engagement.

How can you create a professional reputation you would be happy to invite round to meet your nana, if it was a person?  Here’s my take on some practical steps:

Network. Never underestimate the power of a good conversation. It’s an old adage but still true: Business is based on relationships. So make sure you spend sufficient time cultivating contacts and building a real connection with prospective clients and peers.  Clearly, this is not about love-bombing every Linked-In contact you think you might know. It’s real life, not Tinder!  Network selectively. Consider where you can genuinely connect with like minded people, and remember it’s a two way process.  There is a give and a get, so be genuinely interested in the person you are talking to, even if they aren’t a headhunter.

Speakers’ corner? Do you have a ‘lessons learned’ case-study? Are you an expert in a particular field? Do you have a point of view that will spark debate? One of the best ways to showcase your talents (and your winning personality) is to be a speaker at Industry events. A word of warning, though. The ability to tell your story, and do so in an engaging way is likely to make you stick in the mind of your audience. A self-aggrandising sales pitch for ‘you, you, you’ isn’t the same thing.

Write it down.  If standing up in front of a bunch of strangers makes you want to emigrate to Antartica, how about writing, instead?  Social media has made it really simple to get your message out there. Creating a blog is fairly straightforward using packages such as WordPress and Blogger.  So why not use social media to show the world what you are capable of, professionally speaking.  And if your writing skills are not worthy of a Pulitzer, you can of course comment on other blogs, or join on-line discussion forums.

Keep your promises. Do what you say you will do. This is particularly challenging on assignments where the written job description/brief is pure fantasy. It happens more than you think, so if you get to Kansas and the red shoes aren’t working, then be professional, be pragmatic and make sure you – and your client – are clear on the expectation for delivery.  That way everyone goes home happy.

Start where you are. Every interim has a unique skill set. Whether you are a financial turnaround wizard or a change maven, you have something to offer your clients.  When you start out, it can be daunting. Especially when faced with other interims who are more experienced. Firstly, don’t compare yourself- it’s a waste of energy. Second, everyone had to start somewhere.  Find a way to describe what you do – this will become your sales pitch. Do it well – this will become the cornerstone of your reputation. Do it consistently – this is what builds interim tenure and helps to maintain your personal brand.

What do you think? Does reputation matter?  What advice would you give an interim starting out? Answers and comments on the blog, please.