Span of Control (GCSE)
The span of control is the number of subordinates for whom a manager is directly responsible. The two diagrams below illustrate two different spans of control:
A span of control of 7 would be considered to be quite wide.
Contrast this with a span of 3 below, which would be considered "narrow"
Is there an ideal span of control?
The answer is generally no – a suitable span of control will depend upon a number of factors:
- The experience and personality of the manager
- The nature of the business. If being a line manager requires a great deal of close supervision, then a narrower span might be appropriate
- The skills and attitudes of the employees. Highly skilled, professional employees might flourish in a business adopting wide spans of control
- The tradition and culture of the organisation. A business with a tradition of democratic management and empowered workers may operate wider spans of control
Should spans of control be wide or narrow?
Here is a summary of the relative advantages and disadvantages of each:
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