Ending Your Interim Assignment: A New Perspective

Shenethia Manuel, J.D.
Interim Director of Human Resources
University of Maryland Eastern Shore (Princess Anne, Maryland)
May 2019 – February 2020

[Editor’s note: This article is the third in our series on how to end your interim assignment effectively.]

The two previous articles that addressed exiting a Registry assignment provided sage advice about how to do so effectively. I have read several pieces pertaining to ending or departing from an interim assignment and I wholeheartedly endorse the advice and conclusions in those pieces. From my experience, it is always good to organize information for the eventual incumbent so that the permanent hire will be able to seamlessly pick up where you left off. As interims, we should have a duality of thought, operating as if we will be in the position permanently but always with the end of the assignment in mind. In order to achieve this, we should proceed with long-term considerations guiding our decisions while maintaining copious records of our thoughts, decisions and actions for the benefit of our successor.

I believe that it is also a great move for the institution to have the permanent hire in place a few months before the interim position ends. When the permanent hire is in place prior to the departure of the interim, the department, division and even the entire University is reassured that the continuity and stability of the organization will continue.

That said, I am going to take things in a somewhat different direction. As an interim, I like to think and act in terms of building and strengthening relationships even if those relationships are temporary. When we accept an interim assignment at a college or university, we are there to fill a specific role or function. Whether we serve for just six months or two years, we contribute to building and strengthening the community of that institution and form relationships with our new colleagues. When relationships are developed while serving, good will is created. This good will can benefit the institution, the interim, and The Registry.

We also can help build and strengthen community by gaining the trust of university community members; remaining accessible to university officials; offering our availability to the incoming permanent; and diplomatically providing honest assessment and feedback. Typically, university leadership is peripherally, if not fully aware of any issues or concerns identified. Your independent, honest, and in-depth analysis, bolstered by recommended corrective actions, can serve as confirmation to leadership of directions and action to take that will move the university forward.

Many times, we shy away from thoughts about the end of our assignment. Often, they are painful, and we dread what is thought of as an impending loss. But there is good news: the end of an interim assignment can be the beginning of lasting relationships with members of the campus community you served. Positive relationships will develop the foundation for long term connections that can lead to future assignments for the member and for The Registry. When an interim assignment ends successfully, the placement is completed, but new relationships begin and can grow deeper.

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