Optimizing Spans of Control

Some managers have too many direct reports, some have too few, and some are just right. The number of direct reports each manager has (also called the manager’s “span of control”) drives the number of managers and management layers required in the organization. By managing spans of control, companies have directly impacted their cost, organization effectiveness, communications, employee engagement, manager-employee relationships, and more.

Optimal spans don’t just happen. Unless organizations actively manage spans of control, they are likely to find more that are either too broad or too narrow and fewer that are just right.

Fast growth and de-layering both lead naturally to stretching spans of control. Stable organizations tend to produce narrower spans of control over time, either to develop employees or to offset managerial deficiencies. Organizations also tend to narrow spans of control in downturns when they lay off individual contributors but keep supervisors.

We work with clients to help managers and executives achieve optimal spans of control in their organizations and improve organization effectiveness.