Things happen quickly when there is an urgent need for management
"You cannot brood if you want to succeed as an interim manager," says Liv Hukset Wang. On the Friday before Christmas she turned up for an interview at 9 o'clock in the morning. Eight hours later she had been appointed interim manager at Human-Etisk Forbund (the Norwegian Humanist Association). Things move quickly on both sides of the table when there is an urgent need for management.
Whilst most of us were watching the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994, Liv Hukset Wang (on the left, pictured with colleagues Ida Moe and Eva Meyer) was working as a hostess for the IOC. With qualifications in economics and tourism, she became department manager for Atlantis Student Exchange in 1995 before moving to the voluntary sector in 2001 by joining Kirkens Nødhjelp (Norwegian Church Aid). Until last autumn she worked there as Director of Communications and Fundraising.
I had to move on
I was really happy but felt that it was time to move on. One of my mentors had told me about their experiences as an interim manager and I found myself thinking: "Yes! That would be great!" I find it really exciting to be able to dive into challenging situations," Wang explains.
She then started negotiating with her manager in order to leave and began preparing for a new life as an interim manager.LinkedIn
"I went to interimleder.no and uploaded my CV. I hadn't applied for a single job since 2000 and the employment race was a bit new to me. At the first attempt I managed to upload something completely wrong. I was so embarrassed and was certain that I'd missed the boat," the girl from Førde explains with a laugh. But she hadn't missed her chance. Last autumn she fine-tuned her CV a bit more and created a LinkedIn profile.
"I registered again and not long after I could see that InterimLeder had visited my LinkedIn profile. I was ready. I think LinkedIn is important in this game," she reflects.
Then things snowballed...
"The plan was to have something new to start after Christmas so that I could enjoy the Christmas holidays and know that everything was going to plan. On the Thursday before Christmas, Tor Hansen from InterimLeder called me early in the morning and asked whether I could come in and have a chat with him at 11 that same day. The next day I signed my first interim manager contract, as Managing Director of HEF's county team in Akershus, where I would be covering for a manager who had been taken ill.
One thing Liv Hukset Wang has learned as a manager is to quickly make a good first impression in order to generate momentum and commitment.
"I started on 8 January and the following Tuesday I held a 2-day workshop for employees in which we planned the rest of the year. They questioned having a new manager start like that and I was unfamiliar with the conduct and culture so I made it clear from day one that I wanted quick feedback, both positive and negative. This made both me and them feel more confident.
From large to small
From a department with 40 people in Kirkens Nødhjelp it was a massive transition for me to work in a small department with five employees.
"In large organisations you can feel distanced from everything, but you're much closer to the action here. It is a completely different type of management, not the "soapbox management" found in larger companies.
Interim manager versus permanent manager
After a couple of months in her new role, Liv Hukset Wang has already reflected on the differences between the role as an interim manager and that of a permanent manager.
"You think differently when you have been in a management position for years. You give yourself more time. As an interim manager you do not have any spare time. I felt that I was paid to get up and running by day three. You also need to bring the knowledge you have obtained from previous employers and intensively use this knowledge for all its worth during the period for which you have been hired. In light of this I definitely feel that the employer gets a lot for its money in a short time," she explains.
In closing we ask Hukset Wang about her views on the management role in interim assignments.
"You should clearly communicate what the assignment entails and take the time to listen to what employees feel and know. Go through this afterwards and provide employees with feedback about what you are intending to do and why. Be aware that you cannot be the same type of manager for all types of people in all places. I also think it is important to be upbeat in the workplace," Hukset Wang concludes with a smile.