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Test and Learn with Talent

July 20, 2020   By Jim Cuene

Why we’re focused on interim roles

Fahren was built to be a leadership solutions company that’s a key partner for organizations that are investing in, and innovating the ways they deploy their leadership.

One of the planks of Fahren’s business plan is to focus on interim roles. It’s a tool that most organizations haven’t fully embraced yet, but interim roles can be a great way to test and learn with your leaders and team. You’re already using a test and learn approach in your marketing, technology, and product development efforts, so why not approach your leadership team with the same model?

It shouldn’t be business as usual

Most organizations move quickly to fill an opening with someone who has a similar leadership profile as the person before them. The “business as usual” approach is so common because everyone is busy.

But, most organizations are missing out on this key opportunity to evolve the role or the skills needed to run an evolving business.

Why the rethink? Without a doubt, the business context will have changed in the months since the role was designed. Successful organizations need to be as responsive, fluid and adaptive as their products these days, and that means rethinking what roles are really needed. Consider:

Responsibilities. What objectives are being pursued with this role? Are the right business problems being addressed?

  • Level. Is this still a director level role? Should it be a VP role? Could it be a manager?
  • Commitment. Is it really a full-time responsibility?
  • Span of control. Are the right teams in place to report to this role? Could that control be expanded?
  • Skill mix. What leadership competencies would each candidate bring to the role?
  • Developmental experiences. What kinds of experiences should the player have? Startup experience? Big company? Turnaround? “Good to Great”?
  • Culture impact. How will a candidate use the role to add to the culture (vs merely being a “fit”).

The interim opportunity: test & learn for talent

As the pace of business accelerates, a lot of organizations embrace an agile (and Agile), iterative, and test & learn approach to driving better results. It’s happening in marketing, product development, and technology but, it’s often still missing from the talent side.

Interim roles are one way organizations can apply a test and learn approach to their talent. A temporary interim role gives organizations a chance to explore how key roles can evolve and how teams can work differently. The cycle looks similar to a market-test:

  • Develop a hypothesis. How the role can evolve, or the skills needed to fill it have changed.
  • Define a test. Redefine the seat or the player and create the test period (usually 6-12 months).
  • Run the test. Put the new player into the role.
  • Analyze the results. Review in-market results and team performance. Get feedback from the team, the interim leader, the rest of the leadership team, customers, vendors, partners, etc.
  • Apply. Use what you’ve learned to finalize the new role or the new leadership profile, and then fill the role permanently.

To help your business navigate the launch of interim roles, Fahren has honed:

  • Strategy and advisory services. Mapping out a new strategy and defining the roles you need to get there.
  • Interim talent. Finding and onboarding the Interim leadership you need to keep driving results while learning about the talent mix that can take you to the next level.
  • Executive search. Once you’ve learned what you need and are ready to fill the role permanently, Fahren helps you conduct an efficient, effective search for the right person for the job.
Co-Founder and CEO

Jim has over 20 years of digital brand building experience. From running a start up digital agency to leading digital strategies for global brands at Ameriprise and General Mills, he’s been at the front of digital marketing his whole career. He loves the web and the opportunities it is creating for people and businesses to actually make the world better. Jim has an entrepreneurial mindset, the ability to see how the dots will connect in the future, and the knowledge & experience to put plans and teams in place to get results now.

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