Factors affecting span of control

These are the factors affecting span of control:

1. Geographical dispersion, if the branches of a business are widely dispersed, then the manager will find it difficult to supervise each of them, as such the span of control will be smaller.

2. Capability of employees: if employees are highly capable, need little supervision, and can be left on their own, e.g., Theory Y type of people, they need not be supervised closely as they are motivated and take initiative to work; as such, the span of control may be broader.

3. Capability of managers, an experienced manager with good understanding of the tasks, good knowledge of the workers and good relationships with the workers, will be able to supervise more workers

4. Value-add of the manager: a manager that is adding value by training and developing new skills in the workers will need a more narrow span of control than one who is focused only on performance management (this is the reverse of the capability of workers point above)

5. Similarity of task: if the tasks that the subordinates are performing are similar, then the span of control can be wider, as the manager can supervise them all at the same time.

6. Volume of other tasks: if the manager has other responsibilities, such as membership of committees, involvement in other projects, liaising with stakeholders, the number of direct reports will need to be smaller

7. Required administrative tasks: if the manager is required to have regular face-to-face meetings, complete appraisal and development plans, discuss remuneration benefits, write job descriptions and employment contracts, explain employment policy changes, and other administrative task:, span of control may be reduced.

8. Business process streamlining, effectiveness, and efficiency can reduce the span of control.

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