Why we can’t see the wood for the trees in the North!

For as long as I can remember we (agencies, interims and businesses) have been talking about the North of England interim and project market being completely flat! There simply aren’t any day rates needs and businesses are only interested in hiring people on a fixed-term contract or permanent basis.  Businesses want to grow stable teams, invest into the long term and, let’s face it, day rate interims are way too expensive! Right?


There’s so much expansion, movement and change in the North that for most businesses, investment into the right talent (and that means the right interims) is crucial to achieving their business goals. You simply do not need to hire a permanent candidate to deliver a change programme – you need qualified, assessed, expert project professionals: “INTERIMS”.

And that’s what’s happening. Interims ARE being utilised – but just not in the guise that we might think. Many businesses rely on the big 4 consultancies to deliver their key programmes and projects, or they source in London-based interims or contractors because of the perceived lack of good interim talent up here.

The problem

So, what’s the problem?  This is 2018, the UK market is nationally and internationally accessible, and programmes are getting delivered, aren’t they?

The first problem is we are paying through the nose to use the comfort of the consultancies (and apparently mitigating risk) but are often left with a glossy recommendation but little tactical support to deliver this into the business. Put simply, businesses get an off-the-shelf package with no regard for any cultural/communication nuances that enable it to be embedded effectively.

Secondly, most of the North’s best interim talent is heading to London to seek better prospects there. That’s frustrating when we clearly have the needs and could be supporting them here.

So what’s been going on up here and why is the perception of the interim market up North so out of kilter with the rest of the UK? And why are we still looking to use less experienced consultants from the big 4 or London when we have some amazing talent right here on our doorstep?

Blurred perceptions

In my opinion, the North is still under developed in how we operate and support the interim market. Over the years what is ‘interim’ has become completely blurred – for a whole host of reasons:

  • Agencies have confused interim with temp and fixed-term contracts and have not been able to advise their clients of the true value of good interims.
  • The market has been flooded with ‘happen to be immediately available’ permanent candidates all looking to reinvent themselves as ‘professional interims’ but with little change and transformation ability.
  • Where there are scarce skill-sets, businesses have made desperate attempts to plug gaps resulting in hiring the wrong people and further enforcing the perception that generally the interim talent is expensive and ill qualified. Altogether driving up pay rates beyond their true value!

The solution

So what can we do about it? Good professional interims are expensive but when used in the right way, they deliver excellent value for money. Their expertise helps businesses deliver faster, more effectively and in the best position to grow and succeed with their permanent staff.

Finding an interim isn’t as simple as browsing LinkedIn for a LEAN expert, a People Transformation Lead, a Project Manager, or a System Implementation Specialist… you need to partner with a recruitment business with a robust assessment process and that knows how to spot the chancers from the experts. It takes time (many years, in fact!), expertise and effort to meet all of the available interims, and speak to their references to understand what they delivered as opposed to those that were just on the ride.

Understanding your needs/Supporting your business

We’re building a recruitment business called ‘The Project Bench’ dedicated to supporting the professional interim market. Every single person on the bench is fully assessed around their project strengths. We probe around the key deliverables and the ‘so what’s’ until we know their personal impact. Then we carry out in-depth references. The Project Bench is reserved for the impactful players who can make a difference to the interim market and start to set the record straight on what a professional interim can deliver.

For more information on how The Project Bench can support your business, contact info@theprojectbench.co.uk or call 07951 271 405 for a no obligation discussion.

Why we can’t see the wood for the trees in the North!