Patrik Falk is an experienced Interim Manager with whom Nordic Interim has had several successful collaborations. We have talked to Patrik about the value that an Interim Manager adds to an organization standing before, or in the middle of, business-critical challenges. After international leading roles within Ericsson, WM-Data and Sandvik, with a focus on building organizations, implementations of common systems, and post-merger-integrations, he took the step to an interim career.
Why should you as a company leader engage an Interim Manager?
“An Interim Manager is not afraid having tough discussions or to take responsibility and does not have to participate in the internal political game. As an interim, you bring with you your experience and documented success from previous assignments and leadership roles.
One example is my assignment at Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset where we recruited the whole IT management team to an organization that had been outsourced. The business stood for SEK 1 billion of the region’s budget and it was extremely important to get control. To get the needed skills, we recruited persons from Saab, Volvo, Accenture and Sandvik. We wanted to get experience and knowledge from companies with a culture of delivering on time, on budget and according to plan.
As an Interim Manager, at the same time as you deliver a strategy and implement it, you build the organization’s ability to keep on working in the new direction and reach sustainable results.”
What value does an Interim Manager bring to an organization?
“When a project has crashed, when an organization does not function, or when something has gone wrong, you get access to a person who takes over the problem, creates trust among the management team, employees and with the trade unions, and who keeps his/her promises. As an external, you can ask all the difficult questions and question old habits in another way a permanent employee can. You should also remember that it can be very beneficial to look outside your industry. An Interim Manager from another industry enters with fresh eyes and a toolbox that is applicable in almost all businesses.”
On which occasions have you been engaged as an Interim Manager?
“On two occasions the permanent role holder had left the company on very short notice and the management could not afford to have the role vacant and lose speed. In another case, the company had challenges with a function and needed to set structures and processes. It is very important to build trust and say that ‘I am going to solve your problem’. An Interim Manager takes away the headache from the management, rolls up the sleeves and delivers.
At Swedavia there were some issues with trade union negotiations, and I sat down with the chairman and talked about the disagreements and his concerns. We built a mutual trust and could negotiate the agreements that had previously been a problem. When the organization is at unease, you must be visible, meet the employees, listen, take responsibility, and deliver.
I was also responsible for implementing a common way of working for all the ten airports. The key was to decide who Swedavia’s customer was? The Civil Aviation Administration thought that the infrastructure was the most important factor, the airlines regarded themselves as the clients, and the other stakeholders thought that the traveller was the customer. Together we agreed that the travellers are Swedavia’s customers and jointly new working methods supporting this were developed.
At Assemblin I had teams in three countries. They had not met their manager for 18 months and lacked control. It is a relatively simple assignment to get appreciated and build trust when you show that you care and listen to your team.”
Why did you choose a career as an Interim Manager?
“I knew early that my key ability is to drive change and build organizations and make them perform. I think that leadership is fun, and I wanted to contribute with my experiences from other companies and industries.”