Types of span of control

Types of span of control

The number of levels in the organization is directly influenced by the management span. There are two sorts of spans of management: wide spans and narrow spans. A flat organization results from a wider management span, whereas a tall organization structure results from a narrower management span. The contradiction between the benefits of a tall organization and those of a flat one cannot be resolved by the span of management principles alone.

Defining the span of control

Types of span of control

The span of control measures how far a person may effectively use their managerial power over other people or organizational units. Wide-ranging control is needed since we have finite amounts of attentional capacity, time, and energy.

The range of control has an impact on both how effective managers use their resources and how well their employees perform. The number of subordinates that should be less expensive and give management more strength is referred to as the optimal span.

There are many ways of defining the span of control.

  • “Span of control” is defined by Dimock as “the number and range of direct, habitual communication exchanges between an enterprise’s top executive and his principal fellow executives.”
  • “Span of control” refers to the number of individuals a manager may supervise, according to Lois Allen.
  • “Span of control” refers to the greatest number of subordinates that can be put under the authority of one executive immediately superior to them, according to Peterson and Plowman.
  • According to Elliott Jaques, a manager can have as many direct subordinates as he wants to analyze personal efficiency.
  • The number of subordinates who can be properly monitored and controlled is characterized by Haimann and Scott as the span of control.

Types of span of control

The manageable amount of employees under one senior determines the two forms of span of control: wide and narrow. However, it varies depending on the situation and factors like:

  • Employee autonomy in terms of degree.
  • How many levels there are in the organizational system.
  • The type of employment.
  • Requirement for supervision

Related: Span of control analysis control guide

Wide Span of Control

Wide Span of Control

One manager has broad influence over a large number of subordinates. Given that it typically applies at the lower or operating managerial level, it is also known as the operational span.

The broad spread entails straightforward work and creates a flatter organizational structure. Additionally, big organizations aim for broad spheres of authority. 

Because of the shorter span of control, the number of steps or levels in the vertical chain of command increases, resulting in a taller organization. Companies with flat organizational structures are prone to having a wide span of control.

It has lower operational costs and is very change-adaptive. Because there are fewer layers, the supervisors have great horizontal and vertical coordination and communication.

Advantages of wide span of control

  • More Delegation of Authority
  • Better Manager Development
  • Clear Policies
  • Subordinates are more autonomous when there is a wide span of control.
  • There are fewer levels in the managerial structure.
  • Best when work is repetitive.
  • There is less direct communication between bosses and subordinates.
  • It is cost-effective.
  • Appropriate for larger firms
  • Reduced planning time,
  • Subordinates are well trained


  • Supervisors are overburdened
  • Risk of superiors losing control;
  • Requirement for highly qualified managing employees;
  • Decision-making hindered
  • Inefficient management.
  • Managers’ workload has increased.
  • Team members’ duties are not clearly defined.
  • Less communication between bosses and subordinates lowers the manager’s control.
  • Subordinates are perplexed.
  • Management will be difficult if the number is quite huge.
  • a certified superior is required
  • At lower levels, the delegation of authority may be problematic.

Narrow Span of control

A management style is known as a “narrow span of control” when it involves managing just a few personnel. The number of workers who report to a supervisor in a corporation is referred to as the span of control. 

Narrow Span of control

Advantages of Narrow span of control

Businesses, managers, and people can all benefit from narrow spheres of influence. The following are some benefits of using a restricted span of control in your operations:

Improved dialogue

A major benefit of having a limited range of control is improved communication. Managers may spend more time with their team members and interact with them more frequently because they only have a small number of employees reporting to them. Employees’ comfort in their roles and their confidence in their manager-employee relationship can both be improved with regular communication. Supervisors can better support individual employees, boost morale, and increase productivity by regularly monitoring the actions of people who report to them.

Increased satisfaction for employees

The increased amount of one-on-one time that employees have as a result of a supervisor having fewer workers is an additional advantage. Employees may have more opportunities to raise issues, voice their complaints, or make improvements when the scope of authority is limited. Managers who interact more frequently with the people they supervise may become aware of issues that have an impact on the job satisfaction and output of their staff. Their connection with their management enables them to address problems before they emerge and act fast if an employee’s attitude or performance changes. Supervisors can better support individual employees, boost morale, and increase productivity by regularly monitoring the actions of people who report to them.

Enhanced business awareness

Managers are more likely to comprehend the status of each of their reports due to the greater communication that narrow-span control systems permit. Higher levels of management can receive crucial information from them about an employee’s development and performance, which helps the business better understand its workforce and its various demands. Managers who have fewer direct reports can have a more complete understanding of the business and its employees.

Smaller teams

Smaller teams frequently interact more. This applies to the team’s members as a whole, not just the manager. The strength and resilience of the team as a whole can increase because managers have more time and resources to devote to working with specific team members.

More thorough instruction

A smaller area of authority allows supervisors in charge of new hires or employees performing new jobs to spend more time with their staff and concentrate on their training requirements. Managers are more likely to be accessible to respond to inquiries and track development when they supervise fewer workers. This can assist businesses in developing comprehensive training programs for their staff.

Disadvantages of Narrow span of control

Although a limited span of control might offer numerous advantages to the companies that employ them, it is not always a good structural style for all firms. The following are some drawbacks of the limited range of control management structure to take into account:

Inefficient usage of resources

A tight span of control might not be the best use of your resources, depending on your business and your objectives. In your company, some workers won’t need as much direction, and bosses can be overburdened with duties. Consider introducing larger spans of control in its place if less supervisor contact won’t hurt workers’ productivity. In this manner, your workers are free to execute their responsibilities effectively and your managers prevent redundancy in your workforce.

This may be particularly true if all employees carry out identical or closely related tasks. When everyone is producing at the same level, it may be simpler to identify outliers among a larger group of workers. Large operations managers can assess productivity and performance without necessitating frequent personnel interactions or in-person check-ins.

Cost increases

While having fewer staff reporting to a single manager can occasionally be advantageous, some businesses may not be able to afford the hiring expenditures. The cost of hiring more managers may go up for your business. To ascertain whether putting in place a tight span of control structure is ideal for your operations and staff, think about performing a cost-benefit analysis.


Fewer people under management can lead to supervisors becoming more involved in the daily activities of their direct subordinates. Employees may occasionally find the extra attention helpful, but it can also disrupt their work and cause them to become distracted. Employees who can maintain productive working relationships with their managers can perform better in their positions.

Reduces departmental unity

Some teams and departments must communicate with one another frequently. When multiple employees at the same level report to different managers, confusion can result and departmental communication may be hampered. Make sure the hierarchies in your company are understandable and useful. Small departments with more employees than the few normally associated with a tight span of authority may opt to report to a single manager or have a clear understanding of who is in charge of the entire team.

Factors Affecting Span of Control

Factors Affecting Span of Control

Proper Supervision

To accomplish sufficient supervision, it is important to determine the managers’ span. The workers that require greater direction can be positioned beneath a small span.

Complexity and Nature

When the nature of the activity is complex and more focused supervision is required, a narrow span is appropriate. In contrast, a broad spread is ideal for less difficult repetitive labor.

Planning for the organization

One of the key elements of business planning is the tenure of the management team. It makes clear how leaders and subordinates in the company report to one another.

Centralization Level

The scope of management is impacted by the level of centralization and decentralization. Similarly how decentralized organizations have a wider managerial scope and vice versa.

Geographic Proximity

Since supervision is needed everywhere, the dispersed organization has a limited range. While a business with a single location can employ a variety of management styles.


Since their objectives are well-defined and everyone is aware of the nature of their work, long-running organizations typically have a wide range.

Communicating Effectively

Communication inside the organization can be successful with a defined span of management. Communication occurs through the appropriate route, which lessens confusion.

The skill of the Manager

The manager’s or superior’s aptitude heavily influences the range of control. More subordinates can be managed under the superior if he is more qualified. If he is less competent, he can only manage a small number of employees.

Delegation of Power

It is possible to accomplish appropriate delegation of authority by specifying the number of subordinates at each management level.

Administration Levels

The span of management is constrained by the number of management levels. The range of control is greater the fewer management layers there are.

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