What is Span of Management?

Meaning and Definition of Span of Management

The Span of Management refers to the number of subordinates who can be managed efficiently by a superior. Simply, the manager having the group of subordinates who report him directly is called as the span of management. It is also known as the number of subordinates who are efficiently managed by a single manager.

Management has two implications:

  1. Influences the complexities of the individual manager’s job
  2. Determine the shape or configuration of the Organization

Management is related to the horizontal levels of the organization structure. There is a wide and a narrow management. With the wider span, there will be less hierarchical levels, and thus, the organizational structure would be flatter. Whereas, with the narrow span, the hierarchical levels increases, hence the organizational structure would be tall.

Factors Effecting Span of Management

  • Leadership skills and styles of the manager.
  • Position of manager in the organization structure.
  • Faith in subordinates performance.
  • Degree of Team Work.
  • Communication Techniques.
  • Amount of Personal Contract needed.
  • Training of the manager.
  • Capacity of subordinates..
  • Nature of work.
  • Time required to be spent on supervision.
  • Delegation of authority.

Narrow Span of Management

In this structure, a manager can supervise less number of subordinates. He can, therefore, exercise tight control over their activities. This creates large number of levels in the organisation. This is also known as narrow span of control.

Narrow span of management

  • Close and efficient supervision.
  • Close control and quick communication and reporting between superior and subordinate.

Disadvantage: Superiors involve too much in the subordinates work, Too many levels in the management, high cost of supervision and management communication disorders between the lowest level employee and CEO and Excessive distance between the lowest level employee and top level manager.

Wide Span of Management

These structures have a wide span of control. When superior supervises a larger number of subordinates, flat structure is created with lesser number of hierarchical levels. A departure was made from tall structures to flat structures by James C.

Wide span of management

Advantage: Superiors delegate most of their authority and responsibility and concentrate as their core business, management formulates clear policies and guidelines, subordinates are carefully selected and subordinates are trained and developed.