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UNIT 13

Span of Management
In a classroom, there is a limit to the number of students a teacher can manage. If there are too many students the teacher will not be able to do his/her work effectively. It will not be possible for him/her to give personal attention to individual students. Assessment of the performance of each student also becomes difficult. However efficient the teacher may be, an unwieldy classroom may make him/her ineffective. Most of the time may be spent on disciplining the students and as a result the time available for effective teaching may becomes less. If on the other hand, the number of students in the class is too low, the teachers potentials cannot be fully utilised. It is, therefore, necessary to have just the correct number of students in every classroom. A classroom strength of 40 is generally considered optimum/manageable. Parents who have many children may not be able to give personal attention to individual child. They may not be able to help the children personally in their studies even if the parents belong to the affluent class. Needless to say, if the parents are poor, they cannot give their children good food and proper education. A family with the two children is generally considered afford to have more than one child. The concept of manageable number of persons is very much relevant in any work place. Management experts have given the concept the name Span of Management. This chapter is devoted for the discussion of the various aspects pertaining to span of management.

Meaning
Span of Management refers to the number of subordinates a manager can effectively manage. Span of management is also known by certain other names like Span of Control, Span of supervision etc. A manager will be able to perform his basic work of

guiding his subordinates and making them work only if he has the right number of such subordinates under him.

What if too may subordinates are placed under a manager?


The following consequences are bound to arise if a manager is asked to manage a large number of subordinates:

1. It may result in loss of control. The manager cannot make a correct assessment of
the performance of each of his subordinates. In the same way, the subordinates also may not get the right type of guidance from the manager.

2. It may affect the communication relationship between the manager and his
subordinates. The manager may not be able to convey his ideas individually to his subordinated. Likewise, the subordinate also may not be able to talk to the manager personally.

3. The number of subjects to which the manager can give his attention is limited.
Each subordinate may approach the manager with a particular problem. The manager, thus, may have to recollect many things in a limited time so as to guide a number of subordinates.

4. A wide span will frustrate the manager. He may even decide to be indifferent to
the needs of his subordinates.

5. Managing too many subordinates may also affect the physical and mental health of
the manager. To start with, he may become tried physically and mentally. In due course of time he may also be prone to such problems as throat pain, sleeplessness, hypertension and so on.

6. Conflicts may also arise between the manager and his subordinates. The manager
may find some of his subordinated incompetent and not picking up thins fast. The subordinate may also feel that the manager is not of much help to him in his work.

What if the number of subordinates is too low?

If the number of subordinates placed under a manager is too low, the following consequences are bound to arise:

1. The managers potentials cannot be fully utilised. 2. The goal of the organisation cannot be effectively accomplished. 3. More assistant or deputy managers may have to be employed, in the case of a
narrow span, if the organisation has a number of subordinate staff. This will result in increase in administration expenses. From the above discussion, it is very clear that the number of subordinates placed under a manager should neither be more nor less. It should just be the right number. Determining the right and appropriate span of management, however, is difficult. The proper span of control will vary from organisation to organisation. It is not possible to determine a span that can be applied to all situations. Different management experts have given different proposals regarding the number of subordinates that should directly report to a manager for the span to be ideal. The optimum number varies between 4 to 6 or 8 to 20 subordinates depending on the levels of management. At the level of workers, a number of six is considered ideal, i.e., a foreman may effectively manage six workers at a time. Some management thinkers have recommended even 8 to 20 at the lower levels. On the other hand, at the higher levels of management the right number may be between 4 and 6. The production manager may, for example, effectively deal with four foremen at a time.

Assumptions in determining Span of Management


The following assumptions are invariably made while prescribing the number of subordinates a manager can effectively handle: 1. The capabilities of the different managers are the same. In other words, it is assumed that the managers do not differ in their potentials. This is an unrealistic assumption. Some managers have tremendous potentials to guide and control many subordinates at a time.

2. It is further assumed that all the managers perform identical jobs. This, again, cannot be true. The job of a factory manager and that of a sales manager are not the same. The factory manager stays in the factory and directly supervises the workers. On the other hand, the sales manager does not supervise the salesmen under him directly. He assesses the performance of the salesmen based on their sales reports. 3. The type of supervision or guidance required for the different subordinates in the same. This is also not correct. Some subordinates are conscious of their accountability. They know what is expected of them and when they should report to their managers. 4. Subordinates, in general, approach their superiors often for guidance and help. This may not always happen. Many subordinates are capable of accomplishing their tasks without having to approach their superiors often. In addition to these points, it must further be noted that the nature of work done in different organisations is not same. The work done in a manufacturing organisation and that done in a trading concern are not the same.

V.A.Graicunas Theory of Span of Management


Graicunas was a French management expert. He made a significant contribution to the theory of span of management. He identified three types of superior subordinate relationships which are as follows: (i) (ii) (iii) Direct single relationships Direct group relationships Cross relationships

Direct single relationships


Such relationships arise when a superior establishes contacts with his subordinated individuals. For example, if superior X has two subordinates Y and Z, two direct single relationships may be established as follows:

X with Y and X with Z

Direct group relationships


These relationships arise between a superior and his subordinated in all possible combinations. In the above example, two such group relationships will come to be established between X and his subordinates Y and Z as given below: X with Y in Zs presence and X with Z in Ys presence

Cross relationships
Cross relationships arise when the subordinates, working under the same superior, find it necessary to meet and interact. Continuing with the above example, two cross relationships will arise between Y and Z as shown below: Y with Z and Z with Y Graicunas has developed a formula to determine the number of superior subordinate relationships which is given below: n (2n/2 + n 1) n in the above formula stands for the number of subordinates. Applying the above formula, the number of superior subordinate relationships for different number of subordinates will be as shown below:

Number of Subordinates
1 2 3 4 5 6

Number of Relationships
1 6 18 44 100 222

Factors influencing Span of Supervision


The following are some of the important factors that determine the span of supervision: 1. Ability of the manager If the superior is capable, he can manage more number of subordinates. The capability of the manager is determined by such qualities as his ability to command and communicate, solve problems, make decisions and guide his subordinated. A manager who lacks these qualities, obviously, will be able to manage only a few subordinates. 2. Capabilities of the subordinates If the subordinated are all capable, they may not require much help from their superior. The capability of the subordinates is determined by such factors as their capability to grasp the subject and work independently, prepare and submit periodical reports to the superior and so on. If all the subordinates in the organisation possess such traits, the superior can manage many subordinates. He can, therefore, have a wider span. 3. Nature of work If the nature of the work done by the subordinated is simple and repetitive, they may not require much help from their superior. This allows the manager to supervise the work of a number of subordinates. But if the work is unique each time or non-repetitive, the subordinate may have to depend on his/her superior. In such a case, the superior may have to have only a narrow span. 4. Facilities available If the organisation can provide such facilities to the staff as fax, computer, cell phone, pager, Internet, etc., it becomes easy to send or receive any kind of information at any time. This avoids delay in the execution of work. In such a case, the superior may be able to handle many subordinated. On the other hand, if the organisation follows only the conventional approach to work, the superior may be able to handle only a limited number of subordinates. 5. Extent of delegation The subordinate approaches the superior often not only when he requires the latters help but also when the authority given to him is inadequate. If the authority given to a subordinate is not sufficient, he may have to contact the superior often to get the latters consent for certain decisions. It,

therefore, becomes clear that if the subordinates are given the required authority to make decision, they may not depend much on their superior. In such a case the superior can manage many subordinates. 6. Quality of plans If the organisation has definite objectives, policies, procedures and rules, it becomes easy for the subordinate to carry out his tasks without having to trouble his superior officer. This allows the superior to supervise many subordinates. 7. Geographical dispersal of subordinates This is particularly true in the case of the sales staff of an enterprise. It is possible that the sales representatives, working under a sales officer, may be doing their work in different towns, districts or states. In such a case, it is difficult to control their activities from the headquarters. As a result, each sales officer can have only a limited number of subordinates.