Factors influencing the span of supervision

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There are number of factors that influence or determine the span of supervision in a particular organisation, the most important of these are as follows:

 

  1. The capacity and ability of the executive: The characteristics and abilities such as leadership, administrative capabilities; ability to communicate, to judge, to listen, to guide and inspire, physical vigour, etc. differ from person to person. A person having better abilities can manage effectively a large number of subordinates as compared to the one who has lesser capabilities.
  2. Competence and training of subordinates: Subordinates who are skilled, efficient, knowledgeable, trained and competent require less supervision, and therefore, the supervisor may have a wider span in such cases as compared to inexperienced and untrained subordinates who requires greater supervision.
  3. Nature of Work: Nature and importance of work to be supervised is another factor that influences the span of supervision. The work involving routine, repetitive, unskilled and standardized operations will not call much attention and time on the part of the supervisor.
  4. Time available for supervision: The capacity of a person to supervise and control a large number of persons is also limited on account of time available at his disposal to supervise them. The span of control would be generally narrow at the higher level of management because top manager have to spend their major time on planning, organising, directing and controlling and the time available at their disposal for supervision will be less.
  5. Degree of Decentralisation and Extent of Delegation: If a manager clearly delegates authority to undertake a well-defined task, a well trained subordinate can do it with a minimum of supervisor’s time and attention.
  6. Effectiveness of communication system: Faulty communication puts a heavy burden on manager’s time and reduces the span of control.
  7. Quality of Planning: Effective planning helps to reduce frequent calls on the superior for explanation, instructions and guidance and thereby saves in time available at the disposal of the superior enabling him to have a wider span.
  8. Degree of Physical Dispersion: If all persons to be supervised are located at the same place and within the direct supervision of the manager, he can supervise relatively more people as compared to the one who has to supervise people located at different places.
  9. Assistance of Experts: the span of supervision may be wide where the services of experts are available to the subordinate on various aspects of work. In case such services are not provided in the organisation, the supervisor has to spend a lot of time in providing assistance to the workers himself and a such the span of control would be narrow.
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