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Optimize Your Span of Control

Optimize, not maximize, span of control as a key component of the restructuring process for increased cost containment, productivity, and people management capabilities.

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  • Human Resources Manager, Construction Machinery and Equipment Company
  • Ronald Capelle, President & CEO and Author, Capelle Associates
  • Sharon Patterson, Former SVP, Human Resources, Canadian Tire Corporation
  • Andrea Peres, Director, Human Resources, Moneris
  • Bramora Rebello, Director, Compensation & HR Analytics, Chemtrade Logistics
  • Karen Riddell, Director, Talent Strategy & Employee Experience, London Health Sciences Centre
  • Richard Sperling, Consultant and Principal, Sperling HR, LLC.
  • Naomi Stanford, Organizational Design Consultant
  • Stuart Wigham, Director at Wigham Consultancy Services Ltd.
  • Tammy Williams, Director, Human Resources, Zappos

Your Challenge

  • Absence of a standard approach to optimizing span of control (SoC) creates a lot of uncertainty around measurement, analysis, and timing decisions.
  • Managers play a significant role in driving engagement. Overlooking engagement decisions in SoC can be risky. The SoC structure must be optimized to leave space for leadership action that improves engagement.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Span of control isn't a math problem, it is an organizational effectiveness problem. To effectively optimize SoC, organizations must be strategic in aligning SoC with organizational goals in both the short and long term.
  • There’s no magic number when it comes to SoC; in order to be agile in the face of rapid change, every organization, business function, or industry requires a structure specific to their unique circumstances and these may change over time.

Impact and Result

Use McLean & Company’s customized SoC process to effectively prepare to restructure. Complete the SoC Playbook to capture project decisions and data for all iterations of your SoC optimization process, including:

  • Collection and analysis of organizational data to identify SoC patterns, extract insights, and determine pain points.
  • Assessment of the five critical factors that impact SoC, from both an organizational and a functional perspective.
  • Review of the various cost-saving scenarios through widening SoC.
  • Establishment of high-level SoC parameters to guide customization efforts.
  • Tracking of organizational and project metrics.

Research & Tools

1. Determine current SoC

Select span of control project team, collect current data, and review data to extract insights.

2. Assess impacts on current SoC

Assess SoC impacts on the organization, brainstorm cost savings, and determine next steps.

3. Prepare to deploy initiative

Set scope and timeline, develop optimization process, and conduct information sessions in preparation for project implementation.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a six call advisory process.

Guided Implementation #1 - Determine current SoC

Call #1 - Discuss data collection options.
Call #2 - Review current SoC data to identify patterns and insights.

Guided Implementation #2 - Assess impacts on current SoC

Call #1 - Discuss assessment of impact factors.
Call #2 - Review potential for cost savings.

Guided Implementation #3 - Prepare to deploy initiative

Call #1 - Discuss project scope and process steps.
Call #2 - Review communication plan.

Onsite Workshop

Discuss This Workshop

Book Your Workshop

Onsite workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Determine Current SoC

The Purpose

  • Identify project objective.
  • Analyze organizational SoC data and identify insights, patterns, and pain points.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Project objectives understood and prepared.
  • SoC patterns documented; insights and pain points identified.




Establish and prioritize high-level project objectives.

  • Project objectives are prioritized.

Identify SoC patterns.

  • Pertinent data related to SoC patterns documented.

Extract insights and identify pain points from SoC data.

  • Insights and pain points identified and extracted.

Set benchmark metrics and baseline measurements.

  • Metrics are set.

Module 2: Assess Impacts on Current SoC

The Purpose

  • Assess and understand factors that impact SoC.
  • Brainstorm cost-saving methods.
  • Set high-level SoC parameters.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • SoC impacts on the organization are assessed.
  • Cost-saving methods are created and determined.
  • High-level SoC parameters are set.




Complete the organizational-level assessment.

  • Assessment of factors completed.

Brainstorm potential cost savings.

  • Cost-saving options generated.

Establish high-level SoC parameters to be mandated across all functional areas.

  • SoC parameters set.

Module 3: Prepare to Deploy Initiative

The Purpose

  • Determine project scope, timeline, and communication strategy.
  • Customize tools.
  • Prepare for project implementation.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Project scope and timeline finalized.
  • Communication strategy created.
  • Tools customized.
  • Implementation of project prepared.




Set project scope and corresponding timeline.

  • Project scope and timeline set.

Develop the SoC optimization process and customize the SoC Launch Tool to prepare for project implementation.

  • Optimization process determined and Launch Tool customized.

Create a communication strategy to roll out initiative.

  • Communication strategy determined.