How Many People Can A Manager Supervise?

Whilst managing a small team should not cause too many problems, if your team is too big then you may struggle to manage them effectively. However, the maximum size of team that a competent manager can manage, known as the span of control, is not a fixed entity - it depends on a number of interacting factors.

In this blog we look at the seven factors that influence how many people you can successfully manage.

The seven factors to consider when deciding on the optimum size of team a manager can effectively supervise are:

1. Geographical dispersion.
If team members are widely dispersed, then the manager will find it difficult to supervise each of them. As such the span on control for Sales Managers and managers of remote teams will be smaller than for those with a co-located office based team.

2. Capability of workers
If team members are highly capable and can be left on their own they do not need as much management time as they are motivated and take the initiative to work. In such situations the span of control can be wider.

3. Managers Capability
An experienced manager with a good understanding of the tasks to be done, a good knowledge of his/her team members and good relationships with them, will be able to manage a lager team than an inexperienced manager.

4. Manager as Trainer
If the manager is expected to add value by training and developing new skills in his/her team members they will be able need a narrower span of control than a manager who only needs to performance manage their team.

5. Task Complexity
If the tasks each team member is performing are identical or very similar in nature to those done by other team members, then the span of control can be wider as the manager can supervise them all at the same time.

6. Non-managerial Workload
If the manager has other responsibilities, such as involvement in other projects, their own sales targets to achieve etc. then the number of direct reports they manage will need to be reduced.

7. Company HR policy
If the manager is required to have regular face-to-face review meetings, complete appraisal and development plans, discuss remuneration benefits, write job descriptions and employment contracts, explain employment policy changes and other HR administrative tasks then the span of control should be reduced.

Whatever size of team is optimum for you, our management courses can help manage them effectively.