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Benitez saga demonstrates misconception of ‘interim manager’ role

A leading figure in the interim management industry says that Roman Abramovic was wrong to call Rafa Benitez his ‘interim manager’ at Chelsea.

Misconception of what a professional interim does

The Chelsea FC manager, appearing on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme earlier this week, stated his intention to leave the club at the end of the season, and said the club’s owner’s decision to call him an ‘interim manager’ from the start was a “massive mistake”.

Responding to this comment, the chairman of Russam GMS, Charles Russam, said today:

“The remarks made by Benitez indicate a misconception of the role of an interim manager. Interim professionals are highly skilled individuals hired for their specialist skills and experience to deliver a specific role or fill in a senior level gap. They are commonly over qualified for such roles and as such are highly sought after by top employers.”

Instead, Russam says that Abramovic should have called Benitez his ‘acting manager’ rather than ‘interim manager’.

“Interim isn’t a derogatory word. Interims are effectively ‘sprint CEOs’ and proven specialists in their field. They provide a flexible, low risk and strategic labour force that can be cost effective and turned on and off to suit an organisation’s exact requirements.

Growing market for interim managers

The interim management industry has blossomed in recent years, and is thought to be worth a total of £1.5bn (according to the Interim Management Association’s quarterly survey, conducted by MORI), having grown by over 90% since 2006.

Interestingly, the practice of hiring interim managers started in The Netherlands over 30 years ago, when companies faced with prohibitive costs of dismissing senior employees elected to hire temporary managers instead. UK organisations followed in the 1980s, and the market has grown ever since.


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