The concept of “span of control” also known as management ratio, refers to the number of subordinates controlled directly by a manager or a superior. The concept of span of management was developed in the United Kingdom in 1922 by Sir Ian Hamilton. It arose from the assumptions that managers have finite amounts of energy, time, and attention to devote. The management span can be narrow or wide. The narrow span means that there are many mid and top-level managers who each supervise a small number of employees reporting to them. In contrast, wide span of management means there are fewer mid and top-level managers who each supervise a large number of employees.
Companies usually prefer Narrow span of management. Some advantages of narrow span of management are:
- Close supervision of employee tasks
- Possibility for more upward growth of the employee
- Close relationship between employees and supervisor
- Feedback ideas from employees will be effective
But the narrow span of management also has some disadvantages.
- Greater levels of management mean greater operational costs
- Slower decision making
- Employees can be closely supervised which might demotivate them.