Essay on the Factors Affecting Span of Control in Management

Availability of Staff:

When subordinates get from staff men much of their guidance oil methods, schedules, quality standards, and other aspects of their work, they need less contact with their line supervisors.

Under such situations, the supervisor can handle more subordinates.

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Ability of the Executive:

Individuals differ in various qualities like leadership, decision-making and communication. An executive who possesses these qualities in greater degree as compared to the others can supervise a larger number of people.

Time Available for Supervision:

The span of control should be narrow at the higher levels, because top managers have less time available for supervision. They have to devote the major portion of their time in planning, organising directing and controlling.

Nature of Work:

A manager, who is confronted with complex problems that often involve many people, needs more time to dispose of than an executive who deals with simple and routine problems which involve a few people only. Accordingly, a managing director probably needs to work longer with each of his immediate subordinates than does a first line supervisor who deals with routine problems.

Ability of Subordinates:

Fresh entrants to jobs take more of a supervisor’s time than well trained persons who have acquired experience in the job. Subordinates who have good judgment, initiative, and sense of obligation needs less help from supervisor than a willing, though non-too-bright employee.

Repetitiveness of Activities:

New and different problems take more time to handle than those that have been faced many times before. Familiar jobs can be accomplished with increasingly less effort. In such cases, span of supervision could be wider.

In short the span of supervision should be determined for each executive position.

As more practical approach is to consider modification in the job and the surrounding organisation at the same time that we decide on an optimum span of supervision. Adjustment can be made in several directions as we are dealing with interdependent factors and the important objective is the design of a total structure that gives appropriate emphasis.