Span of management and its effect on cost and efficiency of an enterprise

Span of control is the number of subordinates that a manager can be able to supervise and control comfortably. This depends on his experience and education level. Increase in management levels increases costs and affects staff morale because of distance from chief executives.

Span of management is the number of subordinates a manager is able to supervise effectively. Every manager is faced by different time schedules that work has to be submitted. You will also find different managers having different energy both physically and mentally which means that they are not all expected to comfortably control and supervise equal numbers of subordinates. The number of subordinates a manager is able to supervise and control depends on the level of management. The top level managers have less span of control than the lower level managers. Under normal circumstances a manager can exercise their supervisory to four to eight people directly reporting to him. The lower the span of control the more efficiently the manager can exercise his supervisory and control duties. If the span of control is made too big there will be immense difficulty in supervising the subordinates. On the other hand the number of subordinates directly reporting to a manager should not be too low so as to underutilize the manager.

Factors affecting span of control.

Competence of the superior, calibre of subordinates and nature of work.

There are people who are naturally talented in leadership in that they are capable of supervising and controlling a larger number of subordinates. Those managers who are highly learned and experienced are able to control more subordinates than those who are not as learned and experienced. Your academic qualification makes you work confidently and you also attract more trust from the people you lead. If for example you are supervising computer technicians and they are stuck with a technical problem, if you would be able to repair what they themselves were unable then of course in future they will always trust and respect your leadership. The greater the experience you have in the job you are supervising and controlling subordinates on the greater the span of control you can comfortably handle. The same issue affects the subordinates in that if you were to supervise and control learned and experienced people then you can comfortable handle a larger number than if they are not as learned and experienced. There are some sorts of work that does not need close supervision for the subordinates to work efficiently. In such cases a manager is able to control a greater span than where the work is technical and requires a lot of supervision to minimize chances of mistakes.

Location, clarity of plan and communication.

Depending on the nature and structure of the organisation if the enterprise has divisions and departments in different territories then the span of control of the top management has to be less. This is because he is dealing with people who are distanced off. In cases where the instructions given to the subordinates are very clear then the span of control can be increased because the subordinates are able to work mostly from the instructions. When a piece of job can be done by the subordinates whereby face to face contact with the supervisor or manager is not very essential, then the span of control of such managers can be increased. On the other hand where the kind of job requires constant face to face meetings with the supervisor and managers for instructions to be better understood, then span of control of such managers must be as minimal as possible.

Problems encountered after increasing the levels of management in an organisation.

If the organisation chart is too long communication between the various levels and horizontally becomes difficult and slow. There is a great possibility of instructions being altered before they reach the targeted staff or in some cases not even reaching the people in the level intended. It might even take unnecessarily long for instructions flowing from the top level managers to the lower level managers. This might delay production because important instructions may not be available when they are most needed. The more the levels of management the more expensive is the wage bill. More people have to be employed to fill the created vacancies. It will also be found that morale of lower level workers becomes less with increase in management levels. They feel that they are too far off from the top level managers for their problems and aspirations to be met or solved. To reach the chief executive officer of the enterprise one has to pass through many offices and even at times it becomes totally impossible to reach them. Of course the notion that one's distance between him and the chief executive is too large tends to cause him to loose working morale.


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