The Erin Edit

Topics in People Management

Scope Creep

May 12, 2023

Ever experienced anything that started out as one thing and ended being something much bigger? That's essentially scope creep.

The term is usually used for projects but it also applies to the scope of a role. As a manager, you need to keep an eye on scope creep for each of your team members. Roles will start to expand and all the sudden you have someone who has far extended beyond the original scope of their role.

At that point you need to decide 1) Does this person need a promotion and title change to properly reflect the expanded responsibilities or 2) Does this person need to go back to the original scope and they added pieces needed to be delegated elsewhere including to a potential new role that's needed?

I see scope creep with every single corporate client I work with.

Evaluating the scope of roles is an ongoing task and one you will be more likely to stay on top of with regular 1x1s.

At the end of the day, the job description, title, and pay need to all align. And it's your responsibility as a manager to ensure that is the case. I will sometimes get pushback on a job description exercise from managers because they see it as an HR formality. When in reality, it's a critical evaluation to ensure everything is arranged in its correct place. Inevitably, the exercise will bring to light where adjustments are needed. It's also a great exercise to see if the manager and team members are aligned. If your team members were to write down the bullet points of their roles, would those match what you as a manager writes down? They should be at least 85% aligned.

My recommendation: Ask each of your team members to complete a Current Scope Analysis: where they write down bullets of the work they are doing, the frequency of that work, and how many hours it takes. Then review it together.

This might create fear - they might start to think you are trying to understand their role, so you can replace them especially if you haven't reviewed it this way before. That's all normal and valid. So how you communicate it will be very important. Explain to them the context, that you are wanting to ensure there is alignment and that the scope of their role is realistic for one human (or some variation of that).

With the layoffs happening in the workforce right now, I'm very concerned this will get worse for people. Why? Because a lot of companies will cut heads without reducing the expectations. When that happens, they pile the additional work onto the heads that are left. As a manager, you need to ensure that you are advocating for the appropriate balance of resources and expectations.

Companies are an ever-changing organism, therefore, you need to continuously reevaluate if the current organizational design and scope of roles make sense. And if it doesn't adjust accordingly.

Chat soon!


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