Impacts everyone in the organisation and defines the role of managers/coaches.
Span of Support is a spin on the traditional notion of ‘Span of Control’, which outlines the areas of activity and number people that report to an individual. It is a concept that redefines reporting lines and thereby positively impacts the organisational structure.
Organisations are increasingly trying to flatten their organisations, but at the same time need some employees to be accountable for the main activities in the business. New concepts are therefore needed to define how these flatter organisations coordinate their activities. Span of Support is an alternative way to define reporting lines and could easily be coupled with other techniques, such as autonomous teams or shared service platform.
The concept ties in with some companies’ use of coaches or sponsors rather than managers. In these organisations the term Span of Support might be used to signify the different objectives that coaches/sponsors have, although some traditional managerial tasks continue to be necessary (e.g. hiring, firing, onboarding, reviews, etc).
Span of Support emphasises that the manager is responsible for supporting, rather than controlling, the people who report to the manager and the activities they carry out. Similar to the Span of Control, Span of Support can either be narrow or wide, but it is argued that organisations that are focussed on supporting rather than controlling in general can have wider ‘spans’.
Span of Support in itself is merely a different approach to defining reporting lines. However, if combined with the right mix of social technology and a ‘work out loud’ culture, the technique can be very impactful. Working in open spaces enables managers to provide asynchronous guidance for employees and provides a better real-time overview of activities, which lower the overhead of supporting employees.