What is Span of Control, Factors, Examples ?

Span of Control

What is Span of Control?

The bigger an organization, the more layers of leadership it has. A hierarchy is born as a consequence. Multiple individuals deal with a single superior in a department. Some departments may have only ten individuals, while others may have more than one hundred staff. In both instances, there is a span of command to handle all layers of the organization correctly.

The Span of Control is the amount of staff that can be supervised as efficiently as possible by a manager. Adding fresh hierarchical layers makes the structure of the organization steeper.

A big span of control leads to a smoother structure of organization resulting in reduced expenses. A tiny span of command produces a steeper organizational framework that needs more executives, thus making the organization more costly. Therefore, if its executives have a big span of command, it is helpful for an organization..

Two dimensions

There are always two dimensions to the Span of Control:

Horizontal dimension

This is the amount of direct subordinates effectively supervised by a manager. Also known as the Span of Control

Vertical dimension

This is the amount of concentrations (in)managed directly. It relates to the extent to which the desires of the manager trickle down to the organization's smallest concentrations. This is also referred to as Control Depth. It is primarily aimed at the extent to which a manager and his subordinates communicate in the levels he is responsible for. Without a good leader, it is possible to impair downward communication.


Part of good management has to do with the inherent skills of a manager. Moreover, there are a number of other variables playing a part. One instance would be the size and amount of subordinates of the Span of Control.

It's also about: the experience and knowledge of a manager.
  • The personality of a manager and the abilities of individuals.
  • The experience, knowledge and behavior of employees towards each other.
  • The work's nature and the complexity of the duties allocated.
  • The organizational nature and level of communication, delegation and interaction.

Assigned tasks

Initially, duties, power and duties are assigned. The greater an employee's power and accountability, the greater his position in the organization's hierarchy. However, there is no impact on their hierarchical position on the amount of duties an worker has. Differentiating between compound duties and unique tasks is essential.

Compound tasks are designed mainly for just starting out inexperienced staff. They still need a lot of guidance and training, and their executives need to monitor them commonly.

While the worker strives to accomplish a particular outcome within the allocated moment, there are sub-tasks (compound) that must be finished along the manner. The manager is spending a great deal of time guiding the worker. The more in a team there are these inexperienced workers, the harder the work becomes for a supervisor.

The unique assignment is intended for experienced staff. He understands the goal when the assignment has to be finished and he is accountable for the whole process as well. His superior needs little or no oversight.

At most, he could profit from some preliminary training and an interim and final assessment. Supervising a big group of such staff is simpler for a supervisor because everyone understands what is expected of them.


Span of Control is an indication of management performance. It is also a well-known fact that there are a lot of individuals under him in a manager with a big Span of Control. The lower the span of control of a manager, the less subordinates that he can lead.

Therefore, being in harmony with each other is very essential for Span of Control and control scope. When one is bigger or lower than the other, issues occur with the technique of management, training of employees and teamwork.

Increasing Span of Control

When a manager oversees a big amount of staff, he often has little time to align operations and track the quality of the execution of operations.

Each condition requires to be separately evaluated on the basis of variables that determine the control span. If there is a situation where too many staff are managed by a manager, there are several methods to find a solution to improve the control span:

  • Training the manager, teaching him abilities in leadership such as delegating and clear communication.
  • Train staff, teach them to operate separately and use their time better.
  • The manager's delegation, reducing his workload and improving labor division.
  • Improving processes and systems; finding effective alternatives with the assistance of the management team is a good idea when processes take a lot of time.
  • Involving HR, who will unburden the manager by assuming some specialist duties such as the HR policy of the department.
  • Assign a personal assistant who can take over daily operations and reduce the workload of the manager.

Span of Control example

Here are two instances of how the Scope of Control and Span of Control harmonize.

First is a situation with a manager leading a team of about 40 individuals with years of experience. Problems occur when cutbacks reduce his team to 20 individuals. Everything still seems to be all right at first. Everyone understands what is expected of them, but the manager begins to feel uncomfortable as time goes by. He needs more control and he wants things to go his way.

Employees are beginning to feel that the manager is constantly looking over their shoulder and seeing his presence as an obstacle. The manager is likely to begin getting bored and not be able to discover inherent motivation in his job anymore. Conflicts can occur and tiny issues can very readily become big ones. The manager may feel insufficiently stimulated in some instances, which can have very adverse effects.

The second scenario includes a manager who is used to lead a team of approximately five staff. When he is made accountable for a group of 20 individuals, he will face pressure. If the staff can work on their own, at first things may be al-right. But the manager requires to be there for all 20 of his subordinates when issues or disputes occur. He will find it hard to delegate duties because with only about five staff he is used to working one-on - one.

For the manager, the scenario becomes more complex when most of the 20 staff are unable to operate separately. The manager faces his own lack of delegating abilities. Identifying the issue and offering practical alternatives is crucial in both instances.

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