Span of Management With Examples

The general meaning of the span of management is the number of employees or activities a manager or the company can manage. Scholars sometimes create confusion by titling it as span of control, span of authority and span of supervision. Although the concept itself is thousand years old there has not been any solid agreement about how to interpret it. But it is taken as truth that for the sake of efficiency, there should be a limit to the number of employees or activities a manager should manage, but this is affected by various other factors for which different business concepts have been used to narrowly measure the span of management. Those concepts can be described as:

Supervisory ratio: Since this falls under the category of the organization as a whole, it measures the span of control or capability of all supervisors. Its aim is to find out how many supervisors are needed considering the number of employees to be supervised in the organization.

Reporting structure: This goes in the domain of individual manager's job and its task is to calculate the number of people he is responsible for. Within it, lies his power to control, indirectly revealing the limit he has as an authority figure. he measurement of reporting structure  is titled as raw span. Reporting structure can be affected by the different levels of management. Someone on the top will usually have less number of reporters. But the one below can have more, giving rise to the notion of wide span of control. However, do not confuse it with access to the manager.

Closeness of contact by the manager: This is also connected to manager's job. Do note that he does not just manage people, but also performs other tasks. That makes him a busy person. Under such circumstances, closeness of contact by the manager tries to answer the question of how much time he gives to his direct interaction with his employees. This can be affected by the technical experience and skills of the employees. The job of a manager does not always require him to be expert in their fields. This gap pretty much lowers the amount of time of supervision. The opposite makes him interact with them more, creating a narrow span of control. One of the most interesting things about the concept of closeness of contact by the manager is that it can help figure out how much responsible the employees feel in their job. When the manager spends too much time interacting with them their sense of responsibility slides simply because they are under his control. This can make them feel that he is the one responsible for anything they are doing. They do not require to think.

Scope of managerial role: This one measures the range of the manager in his job by taking into account the wide variety of tasks he has to do and their difficulty levels along with managing employees. Typically, surveys can be used to get information for the measurement.

Working group size: Now we move away from manager's domain to his employees. When they are treated as a group we can ask how much of managerial support they have. A group can be either large or small. Similarly, under a manager, there can be several groups. This is where working group size pops in. It simply evaluates the number of groups the manager is responsible for by taking into account the number of employees found in each.

Employee support: Are the employees getting enough management help from all the managers and additional influential employees? Estimated Employee support answers this question. It considers the amount of time given to them. Indirectly, it can reveal how much they are being empowered.
Span of Control
Raw Span Versus Adjusted Span of Control
Notice that most measurements above are based on divisions linked to headcounts. They are known as raw span. But then we have FTE which stands for full time equivalent. When this time is taken into consideration the span is titled as adjusted. Both can be used for measurement, but they are not going to give the same kind of values. Raw span is most favored. 

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