5 Reasons An Interim CFO Might Be A Good Thing

The chief financial position, sometimes known as vice president of finance, is one of the hardest positions to hire for. It’s also one of the hardest to retain. It’s estimated that CFOs average only 2 1/2 to 3 years at best at most facilities. There are a variety of reasons for this, which we’re not going to touch upon. Instead, we’re going to give you 5 reasons why bringing in an interim CFO might be a good thing.

1. Quick learners. There’s a different between knowing you have to go to a new place and learn all the players that you’re going to have to work with for hopefully a long time versus going into a new place with a mission to accomplish. Interim CFOs normally hit the ground running, and because they’ve been around, they’ll often have a wealth of ideas to bring to the table.

2. Skilled communicators. Because they’re used to making more first impressions than the norm, they’re more skilled at creating positive relationships to help get things moving quicker.

3. Well rounded. Many times CFOs are only skilled in what they’re the best at, that being budgeting and finances in general. Interim CFOs often can come in and see the big picture as opportunities for improvement. Billing, medical records, even IT issues are easier for them to assist with because often those issues have come up at other places.

4. Evaluation. If you need someone to come in and help evaluate talent, an interim CFO is a good place to start. The CFO meets with every director that has something to do with financials, and could probably tell you if your materials management director is working on saving you money with your suppliers or taking advantage of offers that aren’t quite ethical for suppliers to make.

5. No strings attached. If you and the CFO don’t get along, you can change to someone else based on the terms of the contract. If you do get along, you could pretty much keep the CFO for as long as you needed. You’re going to get honesty from an interim CFO because they’re not worried about keeping their job. If you’re in trouble, or if you’re doing good, you’re going to get the truth. And no matter what the truth is, at least you know and can decide if you have to do something about it.

Benefits Of Interim Leadership

A blog for a company called Compass Clinical Consulting recently had an article titled Investing in Interim Hospital Leaders: Reaping the Benefits. It mainly talked about some of the benefits hospitals can receive by bringing in interim leadership when needed. It talked about how things such as morale, recruitment, and fixing major problems can be addressed when bringing in a qualified consultant.

Frankly, there’s nothing to disagree with in the article. We have heard of many success stories from clients talking about many of the interim leaders we’ve placed in some hospitals. Many hospitals have had great financial turnarounds when compared to where they were before our consultants were placed. One hospital actually showed more than a 100% increase in revenue and almost 40% increase in cash collections via the efforts of interim leadership we placed.

We have been happy with the quality of the consultants that have worked with us, and our clients have also. Of course, no one is perfect, because you just never know how a consultant will work with certain elements in some hospitals. Often there are situations where our consultant might not have a chance to break through the hierarchy. That’s not just us, as many independent consultants will tell you that management’s reasons for bringing them in weren’t really clear once they arrived on the scene.

However, when clients, interim staffing companies, and consulting leaders achieve a symbiotic relationship, good things happen more often than not. If clients are willing to allow consultants to do what they came to do and accept many of their suggestions, they’ll often find that things will end up working pretty well on the back end. They’ll be able to reap the benefits and skills of someone who usually has a background of previous success.

That part, weeding out the skilled, is the staffing agency’s job, and it’s what they gear themselves to be. Their reputation is on the line, and they won’t risk having it ruined by placing the wrong person. In the end, they also want to reap the benefits of skilled interim leaders as well.

What To Look For In Interim Leadership

Sometimes health care entities have a need to replace management level positions. Someone may have left, or administration might feel the need for another high level body to come in and offer something they don’t already have.

One of the best reasons for bringing in an independent consultant, which is how most management level interim employees consider themselves to be, is that they are usually skilled in stepping into a situation, doing quick evaluations, then taking action steps to help fix problems as necessary.

Interim leadership offers many things. One, they know they’re not going to be permanent employees, so most of the time they don’t come in trying to make too many friends, although they will try to find employees who will work well with them. They don’t get caught up in a lot of the drama of living in a particular area, which makes them dispassionate about the job that needs to be done. It’s not that they don’t care what happens, because they obviously do. What they do want to make sure of is that they can make decisions that affect positive outcomes, yet not get caught up in office politics that can often restrict current employees from trying something different, or revisiting something that may have been tried before in some fashion.

Expeditive works with a lot of these independent consultants, of all management levels, in making sure we place the proper person with the proper client. Some of our consultants are specialists, which may cost a little bit more, but you can bet that, if we’re recommending them, that they’re at the top of their game.

Deciding When You Need Interim Management Staff

Management level staff leaves companies every day. Some companies can easily fill management level positions because they have a lot of candidates from within they can choose from.

However, it’s a different story for hospitals. Often, they tend to hire only one person with the experience and skills to handle a particular job, and when those employees leave, they have to do some extensive outreach to try to find another body. Sometimes, that can take a long time, especially in areas that aren’t near large cities. That, plus most hospitals aren’t all that close to each other, so they have to try to convince candidates that either moving to their area or driving long distances is a good thing.

What happens is that, during this time period, departments might be leaderless. If you’re a relatively small facility, you might not have had an assistant director, manager, or supervisor already named to lead things. Probably if you had confidence in someone you’d have already thought about promoting them to the position. You can sometimes get by with putting someone in charge for a few weeks, but anything longer than that and you could be compromising your facility’s abilities to provide quality.

Interim management staff provides instant leadership and stability. Every interim leader who steps into either a leadership position or an independent position within your facility has already proven themselves in a number of other situations, either in your area or somewhere else around the country. More often that not, staff immediately recognizes their proficiency and accepts them in their role as a temporary leader. And we usually find that interim managers can easily affect positive changes that, strangely enough, the full time leaders you’ll bring in afterwards are often happy about.

This is why Expeditive is always happy to recommend interim management staff to hospitals. We recognize their proficiency and professionalism, and know that they will do the best job possible for you, our clients.