MEANING, TYPES AND FACTORS AFFECTING SPAN OF CONTROL

The span of control is the number of subordinates that a manager can successfully supervise.

It refers to the number of subordinates who report to one manager in the organizational hierarchy.

The span of control is common to all managers because managers have at least one subordinate to control and guide.

The larger the number of people under the control of one manager, the wider the span of control.

The lesser people under the control of one manager, the narrower the span of control.

The span of control is also called the span of management, a span of supervision, or a span of authority.

Types Of Span Of Control

1. Wide span of control: This refers to a situation where a single manager or supervisor supervises a large number of subordinates.

A wide span of control results in flat organizations where a manager oversees a large number of subordinates.

2. Narrow span of control: This means that a single manager or supervisor is managing a few numbers of subordinates.

A narrow span of control is common in tall organizations where managers supervise few subordinates.

Factors Influencing Span Of Control 

1. Ability of the manager: Managers differ in their abilities and skills. 

While some managers can successfully manage a large number of subordinates, others can only manage a few numbers of subordinates. 

A manager's capacity to manage a large or small number of employees is determined by his leadership, decision-making, and administrative abilities.

If a manager lacks leadership and decision-making skills, he may be unable to supervise a large number of subordinates.

2. Degree of decentralization/centralization: Under decentralization, the managers have to make fewer decisions, as power is delegated to lower-level management.

This means that the span of control will be wide, allowing some autonomy to the lower-level management.

Conversely, the span of control will be narrower when the organisation is centralized.

3. Ability of subordinates: Subordinates who have good initiative, judgment, skills and a sense of obligation seek less guidance from the supervisor, resulting in a narrow span of control

On the other hand, subordinates with poor initiative and judgement required more guidance from the supervisor, which may result in a wider span of control.

4. Experience of the subordinate: New employees require more supervision than veteran employees who have already gained experience on the job.

5. Time available for supervision: Top-level managers have less time to supervise because they spend a large amount of time planning.

Therefore, the span of control should be narrow at the top level.

On the other hand, lower-level managers have more time to supervise the activities of subordinates.

Hence, the span of control should be wide at the low level.

6. The nature of the work: The complexity or simplicity of the tasks carried out by an organization also determines the span of control.

Simple and routine jobs, in general, are best suited for a wider span of control, as they require less supervision of subordinates.

Complex dynamic jobs, on the other hand, require more individualized supervision of subordinates, allowing for a tighter control span.

7. Size of the organisation: Generally, large organizations with large resources prefer a wide span of control to a narrow span of control.

On the other hand, small organisations with limited resources prefer a narrow span of control to a wide span of control 

READ ALSO: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MANAGEMENT BY OBJECTIVE

Conclusion

A superior is required to have a reasonable number of subordinates to supervise.

The reasonable number of subordinates that a superior can supervise depends on various factors, including the ability of the manager, degree of decentralization or centralization, nature of work, and ease of communication.

If the span of control is widened, there will be fewer organization levels, making the supervisory load very heavy.

On the other hand, if the span of control is narrow and the organisational levels are increased, communication will be impeded.

A correct balance between supervisory load and organizational levels is necessary for good management.

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