Span of Control

Topics: Management, Decision making, Decision theory Pages: 2 (510 words) Published: December 11, 2011
How many subordinates can a manager efficiently and effectively direct? This should be the concern of every business, but often time this is not taken into consideration by many businesses no matter the size. It is particularly important for small business to understand this concept; it determines the number of levels and mangers an organization has. The span of control refers only to direct reports, rather than to an entire corporate hierarchy. Even though a CEO may technically control hundreds of employees, his or her span of control would only include the department heads or functional managers who reported to the CEO directly. Span of control is also widely employed in large organizations like the military, government agencies, and educational institution. Span of control varies between narrow/small to wider/lager. Trends in recent years have been toward wider or larger spans of control. Narrower or smaller spans of control with a span of around 2-6 are more uniform. Managers can maintain close control, but there are three major drawbacks. The expenses would be higher due to the additional levels of management. Also Increases complexity of vertical communication which can slow down the decision making. Lastly, they encourage overly tight supervision and discourage employee autonomy. Wider or larger spans of control around 7or more are more efficient in terms of cost, but can reduce effectiveness because the span is too large and employees’ performance suffers. Wide spans also cut overhead, speed up decision making, increase flexibility, get closer to customers, and empower employees. To keep performance from decreasing in wider spans employee training should be heavily invested into. When employees know their jobs inside and out a wider span will be more effective. It is a given that all managers will experience a decrease in effectiveness as their span of control exceeds the optimal level. This decrease does not necessarily represent the individual...
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