Organizations are often tempted to appoint existing staff members into interim roles. Maybe they believe it will provide continuity, or perhaps their top priority is to preserve the budget. Nonprofits should resist this urge, according to many researchers.
Current employees appointed to interim leadership roles may be more risk-averse, may not take the significant steps needed to make positive change, and may be in fear of jeopardizing their existing relationships within the team. There is also the chance they will not stay on if they do not receive the permanent leadership position, causing additional turmoil. If they do remain, they are heading back into a staff they previously managed, which can create imbalance and possible ill will.
Other potential risks of internal appointments include:
- Lacking the confidence to make difficult decisions
- Difficultly relinquishing leadership duties
- Insufficient knowledge of the specific skillset required for an executive leader (personnel, finance, legal, etc.)
While selecting an internal team member for an interim leadership position may be more cost-efficient, it’s important to consider the potential of losing them in the long run, along with their institutional knowledge.