A few years ago, a client approached me asking if I could step in for a newly-hired alliance manager who was desperately needed in the business, but not yet available to make the move. The assignment was originally planned to last for just three months, however, due to unexpected changes in the new alliance manager’s availability it lasted much longer! After thoroughly onboarding the new alliance manager when she eventually became available, the assignment was completed in 14 months.
This temporary solution worked for my client and provided continuity and fresh insights for the business’ alliance department. It might however not work for every company.
In this short online survey concerning finding your next alliance manager, one of the four questions asked is “Would interim or contractor alliance management work for your company?” The answers to this question have so far varied from a clear “No!” to a motivated “Yes”. To quote two of the answers from the survey:
“I wouldn’t take a contractor alliance manager, even if I was short of resources. I believe the alliance manager should be part of the company and, if needed, I would demand internal resources instead.”
“Absolutely! We have several contract alliance managers and their experience is invaluable for the coaching time it saves me as a leader. It also means I have to provide internal company support and connections at a higher level, but it’s worth it for their savviness in the role!”
These two quotes clearly highlight that whether an interim alliance manager solution will work is very much company dependent. It also highlights that you cannot just hire external alliance managers and let them get on with their work. The role requires guidance or coaching from you as the alliance leader – albeit for an external specialist on a different level than any coaching new internal alliance managers would require.
One of the respondents highlighted another benefit of working with external alliance managers:
“This is a possibility that we are considering, […] but the idea would be to have this professional providing training to an alliance manager in the company, so that in a matter of 12-18 months we could have this role carried out by an internal professional.”
I believe this emphasises an important aspect of working with external alliance managers; it should be a temporary solution whereby your company not only benefits in the short term, but also for the longer term by embedding them in the organisation through providing proper training and a handover to an internal alliance manager.
Working with interim or contract alliance managers will not work for everybody, but can provide solutions for short term shortages in your team and thus continuity to your alliances. The external professional will need guidance and will bring a fresh perspective and seniority that will benefit your team, your alliances and the alliance manager to whom they, in the end, will handover to.
Will working with external alliance managers work for your company?