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Departmentation and the Span of Management | Organisation

This article throws light upon the eight important factors of departmentation that affect span of management. The factors are: 1. Competence 2. Physical Dispersion 3. Non Supervisory Work 4. Required Interaction 5. Standardised Procedures 6. Similarity of Tasks 7. Frequency of New Problems 8. Preferences.

Factor # 1. Competence:

Prima facie, the more competent the manager and his (her) subordinates, the wider the span of management. If a manager is competent and well-trained, he (she) can supervise more subordinates. In a like manner, if the subordinates are also competent and well-trained, they require supervision and control.

Factor # 2. Physical Dispersion:

The more widely the subordinates are scattered, the narrower the span should be. If an organisation uses location departmentation, sales managers may be scat­tered across a large part of the country. An area sales manager or a regional manager could spend all of his (her) time travelling if the span were wide. A narrower span solves this problem. By contrast, if all the subordinates are in one location, the span can be somewhat wider.

Factor # 3. Non Supervisory Work:

In general, managers at the lower levels of an organisation spend most or all of their time supervising subordinates. Other managers spend a considerable amount of time doing paper work, filing and engaging in other managerial functions. The more such nonsupervisory duties a manager is supposed to perform, the narrow his (her) span should be.

Factor # 4. Required Interaction:

Certain jobs require a great deal of interaction between supervision and subordinates; other jobs require less. As a general rule, the more interaction that is required, the narrower the span a management should be.

Factor # 5. Standardised Procedures:

In those work situations where there is a fairly comprehensive set of standard procedures, a relatively wide span is possible. It is possible to handle most difficulties by following a standard procedure. If only a few standard procedures exist, however, the supervisor usually has to play a larger role in overseeing (supervising) day-to-day activities and may find a narrow span more appropriate.

Factor # 6. Similarity of Tasks:

If most of the jobs being supervised are similar, it is quite possible for a supervisor to handle a wider span. When each employee is performing a different task, the major portion of the supervisor’s time is spent on individual supervision.

Factor # 7. Frequency of New Problems:

If new problems requiring supervisory assistance arise very frequently a narrower span may be appropriate. If new problems are relatively same, it is desirable to establish a wider span.

Factor # 8. Preferences:

The optimal span is also affected by the preferences of both supervisor and subordinates. If the supervisor prefers to monitor his (her) subordinates closely or the subordinates prefer close supervision, a narrower span may be called for.

Some mangers prefer to spend less time actively supervising their employees, and many employees prefer to be more self-directed in their jobs. In such situations, a wider span may be possible.

The main factors affecting the span of management are listed in Table 9.3. Of course, the importance of such factors varies from organisation and time to time.

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