Headshot of Katie Piperata

The use of interim executives in the long-term care industry is not a new concept. However, it’s gaining more prominence as companies hire interim leaders to address immediate challenges.  They bring stability during times of change or uncertainty.

While their role is not permanent, interim leaders can make a significant impact in a short period of time. They are dynamic catalysts, driving effective measures and delivering tangible results. They are far more than mere stopgaps!

Who are they exactly?

  • Interim leaders in the long-term care industry are seasoned high-level professionals with deep knowledge of and experience in the industry. Most have held key positions for more than 20 years. They bring strategic and operational expertise.
  • Interim executives assume all the responsibilities of a leader and create strategies for an organization. They can have a powerful impact in a short amount of time.
  • Interim leaders can quickly integrate into an organization, assess their needs and drive initiatives as well as manage day-to-day operations very effectively.
  • Interim executives are typically team players. They understand the importance of collaboration and working with existing teams within the senior living organization. 

When should a long-term care organization consider hiring an interim executive? 

  • Specific expertise required. Smaller senior care organizations and communities may bring aboard an interim leader for their expertise in a specific area.
  • Immediate need. Interim executives can start work quickly, often within a matter of days or a few weeks. Rapid deployment allows organizations to address challenges quicker.
  •  Leadership transition. When a key executive such as a C-level role and other senior leadership positions resigns, retires, or leaves suddenly. Interims can step in to provide stability and continuity while the senior living organization searches for a permanent hire.
  • Gain fresh perspective. Their external vantage point allows them to approach challenges with a new lens and without internal bias.
  • Change management. During periods of significant change such as mergers and acquisitions or reorganizations efforts, interim leaders can help navigate through these challenges.
  • Turnaround situations. In cases where long-term care organizations are facing financial challenges, declining performances, interim leaders with turnaround experience and expertise can be brought in to implement the necessary changes to right the ship.
  • Special projects. Organizations often hire an interim executive to lead special projects that require specialized skills that their current team does not have. This could include implementing new technologies to restructuring operations.
  • Impending merger or acquisition. Mergers and acquisitions often require significant integration efforts and leadership alignment. Interim executives are crucial to managing a smooth transition, aligning teams, streamlining operations and facilitating integration.
  • Cost consideration.  Hiring an interim can be very cost-effective since there’s no long-term commitment. An organization does not have to be concerned with onboarding, full-time salary, benefits including healthcare and retirement, or a severance package.
  • Time to find replacement. Hiring an interim executive gives an organization time to hire a replacement. Finding the next leader is not an easy task. The organization needs time to research, recruit and secure the right person for the job. Hiring someone immediately can be a costly mistake If they turn out to be a bad hire.

What should you look for when hiring interim leaders?

  • Leadership experience and proven success: Seek an interim with a proven track record of success in long-term care. Ask for references regarding previous interim assignments.
  • Deep industry knowledge: Look for Interim leaders who possess the necessary skills, knowledge and experience needed. They should have the breadth, depth and expertise needed.
  • Self-starter: Interim leaders need to have the drive, passion and strong will to succeed from the start.
  • Adaptability and flexibility: The most successful interims are those who can adapt quickly to new environments, cultures, and changes.
  • Ability to hit the ground running:  Look for Interims who are ready to run at full speed without causing any disruptions to your organization.
  • Critical thinker: Many situations will call for a self-disciplined thinker who can reason, assess and problem-solve. Look for interim who are critical thinkers and problem solvers.
  • Collaborative team player: Seek interims who can work closely with existing teams and stakeholders to drive success.
  • Integrity: Hire an interim who demonstrates integrity, professionalism and ethical conduct.
  • Innovation and creativity: Interim leaders find new ways to be original and serve the needs of your senior living organization.
  • Business acumen:  Successful interim leaders have a keenness and quickness in understanding and dealing with a business situation in a manner that is likely to lead to a good outcome.
  • Good personality: Interims often step into leadership roles during times of transition or crisis. Having a good personality such as being empathetic and a good listener can help to build a strong rapport and trust with an existing team.

Next steps

There are many ways that interim executive leadership can benefit your long-term care organization. To get the highest ROI from an interim hiring strategy, identify areas that can benefit most from the role, estimate length of time an interim executive is needed, assess if an interim will mesh with your team and fit your culture, and finally, select the best interim leader who will successfully perform the job at hand.

Katie Piperata, NHA, MBA, CPC, interim solutions and leadership development trainer, leads MedBest’s Interim Solutions Division. MedBest is an award-winning national executive search firm exclusive to the long-term care industry.