Span of management


Span of management:

Span of management refers to the number of subordinates that a manger can efficiently manage. Number of subordinate directly reporting to a manager is known as span. Span of management is important for

  • Determining the complexity of an individual manager’s job and
  • Determining shape and structure of the organization

Fewer the number of subordinates reporting to a manger larger the number of managers required. Therefore span for control should be fixed. 

Factors determining the span of management:

Capacity of manager: Each manager has different capacity and ability in terms of decision making, leadership, communication, judgment, guidance and control etc. mangers having more abilities in respect to these factors may have more number of subordinates.

Capacity of subordinates: capacity of subordinates also affects the span of a manager. Efficient and trained subordinates may work without much help of their manager. They may just need broad guidelines and they will perform accordingly. They would require lesser time from their superior due to which manager can have large number of subordinates under him.

Nature of work: If subordinates are performing similar and repetitive routine work they can do their work without having much time of the manager. Frequent changes in work would require more detailed instructions from manager whenever there is change in work. Type of technology used also affects the span of control.

Degree of Decentralization: degree of centralization or decentralization affects the span by affecting the involvement in decision making process. If manager clearly delegates his authority and defines it fully this would require less time to devote to manage his subordinates as subordinates will take most of the actions by their own. Hence manager can have wider span.

Degree of Planning: If the planning is effectively done particularly if standing plans procedures rules methods are clear then subordinates can make their decisions on their own. If they have to make their own plans they would require more guidelines by superiors and manager can handle narrow span in the case of improper planning.

Communication System: If communication system is modern i.e. tools like electronic devices will save time of face to face interaction, which require more time, span of manager can be increased

Level of Management: level of management also affects the span. Higher the level of management lesser the number of subordinates as higher level management does not have much time to supervise. They spend their most of time in planning and other functions. Lower level managers can have wider span than the higher level managers.

Physical location: If all the persons to be supervised are located at same place within the direct supervision of manager, he can supervise more number of people. If subordinates are at different locations then manager can supervise less number of spans.