International Case Study from SMW: Interim HR Director Automotive

The client is a 35-bilion Euro automotive supplier with worldwide presence in forty countries focusing on car powertrain technology including dual-clutch transmissions. This business unit has 1300 permanent and 500 temporary employees. Annual turnover is about 360 Million Euros, producing transmissions for all major car producers in Germany. While the business was running well, the local HR department was not well organised, caused by some management changes during the last three years. Additionally, the relationship between the company and the Works Council and the unions were bad.

The situation in HR needed to be addressed quickly. There was no leadership in the HR function and this led to a lack of trust in promises made by the HR team. There was a lack of competent resources and the company was hiring hundreds of temp workers. The Works Council was also frustrated with their collaboration with HR. In general, HR was in bad shape.

An interim HR director was recruited by our SMW Partner and presented to the firm. A decision was made quickly and the interim was at the job in a very short period of time. The Interim immediately spoke with all the stakeholders within the first few days. In this process he collected all the open points among the stakeholders.

The interim performed an analysis of all the issues and then met with local management and the works council to review the solutions that were chosen. The result was a transparent action plan that greatly improved communication between all parties.

The interim also filled all the employee gaps within the human resources department, allowing productivity to rise to a reasonable level. The interim HR director also invested considerable time in the coaching and training of the HR staff.


The actions taken by the Interim HR Director resulted in swift and immediate improvement of the situation. The mood and the team’s motivation were visibly improving after only a few weeks in the HR department. In short order, the trust level came back in human resources. The management team felt supported by HR and the conflicts with the Works Counsel became much less.

Ultimately a new permanent HR director will be given a well organised HR department to build upon. The Head of the Works Council asked the interim to stay and become a permanent employee. The feedback from the SVP HR of the whole division, was that they were very satisfied with the interim manager’s performance.


P+P Interim Management GmbH
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AT-1100 Vienna

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