Should You Hire a Fractional Manager? Pros and Cons

Like most Visionary Female Entrepreneurs, one of your biggest challenges is determining how to best allocate your limited time and resources. You can’t do everything yourself, but hiring a full-time executive or management team isn’t always feasible or necessary for your current stage of growth.

This is where having a fractional workforce comes in. By engaging experienced managers and operators on a part-time or interim basis, you can affordably supplement your existing staff with specialized expertise – without the overhead of permanent hires.

The fractional model has exploded in popularity for good reason. But is it the right solution for streamlining your operations? Let’s explore some key pros and cons of hiring a fractional manager.

Pros of Working With a Fractional Manager

  1. Immediate Expertise When and Where You Need It: One of the biggest benefits of fractional managers is on-demand access to seasoned professionals who have “been there, done that.” Rather than having a generalist try to run marketing, sales, finance, and operations simultaneously, you can hand each domain over to a specialist in that area.
  2. Quicker Execution and Fewer Dropped Balls: As the visionary leader, your focus should be on steering your company’s strategic direction and long-term growth trajectory. By delegating the execution of core functions to an experienced fractional manager or team of managers, you can operate with increased velocity and attention to detail.
  3. More Affordable and Flexible Than Permanent Hires: Engaging an outside manager on a part-time basis is almost always cheaper than bringing on a full-time executive – especially when you account for benefits, bonuses, etc. As an added bonus, the fractional model makes it easy to scale support up or down as your needs evolve over time.
  4. Fresh Outside Perspective: It can be challenging to identify areas for improvement when you’re deep in the day-to-day trenches of your business. Fractional managers bring an impartial, third-party viewpoint that can shine a light on opportunities for optimization that may have been overlooked by your internal team.
  5. Proven Processes and Best Practices: In addition to receiving hands-on implementation support, most fractional managers will also institute documented processes, playbooks, and other proprietary frameworks for their respective domains. This not only drives accountability but ensures you continue benefitting from their expertise long after the engagement ends.

Cons of Working With a Fractional Manager

  1. Less “Ownership Mentality” Than a Full-Timer: While a top-tier fractional manager should still be highly engaged while on your payroll, there’s always a small risk that a part-time consultant won’t have the same vested interest in your company’s long-term success compared to a permanent hire. Good contracts and incentives can help mitigate this.
  2. Ramp-Up Time for New Resources: No matter how qualified they are, any new manager will require some time to get fully ramped-up on the nuances of your business, team dynamics, existing workflows, and more. Careful expectation-setting around onboarding timelines is important to avoid frustrations.
  3. Integration Challenges When Working With Multiple Fractionals: Though the benefit of specialized expertise is clear, keep in mind that more fractional cooks in the kitchen means more communication overhead to ensure cross-functional coordination. You’ll need robust processes and systems to keep everyone aligned as a cohesive unit.
  4. Risk of “Franken-Strategies”: Distinct from the integration challenge, there’s also a risk of creating “Franken-Strategies” if fractional managers aren’t fully buying into your company’s overarching vision and core principles. Tight guardrails are a must to maintain strategic cohesion.
  5. Loss of Institutional Knowledge When Fractionals Move On: While not necessarily a dealbreaker, it’s worth noting that institutional knowledge can take a temporary hit whenever an embedded fractional manager discontinues their engagement. Comprehensive documentation and knowledge sharing is crucial.

Making the Right Choice For Your Business Weighing those lists of fractional management pros and cons, what’s the best path for streamlining your own operations?

Like most strategic decisions, there’s no one-size-fits-all. The right answer depends on variables like your specific capabilities gap, budget, risk tolerance, and desired balance of flexibility vs. continuity.

As a general framework:

Fractional Support May Be Ideal If:

  • You need to quickly fill mission-critical roles or skillset gaps
  • You have a defined, bounded problem space (e.g. optimizing marketing, launching a new product line)
  • You want to audition potential full-time hires before overcommitting
  • Your priorities or growth trajectory could materially shift in the next 12-18 months
  • You simply can’t afford (or don’t require) a full-time executive resource yet

A Permanent Hire May Be Better If:

  • Maintaining long-term institutional knowledge and cultural alignment is paramount
  • You need a dedicated, full-time resource focused solely on your company
  • You have an established, predictable set of processes and priorities
  • Your growth trajectory and leadership requirements are highly stable

Many businesses opt for a hybrid approach, maintaining a lean permanent leadership team supplemented by fractional managers for specific initiatives or operational functions.

No matter which route you choose, the underlying goal is the same: empowering you, the visionary founder, to steer your business in a streamlined, strategic manner. By carefully considering which roles and responsibilities to own vs. outsource, you can ensure your limited time is always concentrated on the highest and best uses.


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