I would like to ask great MT community for an advice on how many layers of management would you recommend for construction company I'm running .

At the moment we hire aprox 60 people. This number includes aprox 45 workers (4 foreman), 8 supervise engineers, 3 sales, 4 administration staff. Our accounting department is outsourced.

I'm founder and CEO abd the only member of board. I'm starting to feel that even thou I've been following MT Trinity recommendations, our fast developing company needs new model of management for taking next step into higher performance.

I hope that I managed to express my question and background in clear way because English isn't my first language.

Thanks in advance for any replies.


afmoffa's picture

 Hi Maciej:

I think a manager should not have more than 10 people working under him/her. 10 employees are a lot to keep track of. By the time a supervisor has 15 or 20 people under him, he might forget conversations or assignments. I had 60 direct employees one time, and every day at work I felt as though I were at an awkward party where I didn't know anyone. Since then, I've found 8 is the magic number for me.

Are the 4 foremen the managers of the 41 workers? (45-4 = 41)? That means you have a 10:1 ratio of workers to foremen, which means I recommend you consider promoting a worker to foreman sometime soon.

Or do the workers report to the supervising engineers? 8 engineers is plenty to oversee 45 workers.

Who reports to you? Do you personally manage 8 engineers, 3 salespeople, 4 administrative staff, and 1 contact person at the accounting office? If so, that's 8 + 3 + 4 + 1 = 16 people reporting to you. I don't know you and your abilities, but most managers would struggle to keep track of 16 direct employees.

As a guess, I'd say supervise all 3 sales people directly, supervise 1 senior administrative staff person, the accounting contact person, and 1 or 2 of the supervising engineers. But really, you started the company and you'll know the specifics of your needs better than I will.


stephenbooth_uk's picture


there are a number of factors that would impact on the spans of control a manager would have and therefore the number of managers and number of levels. 


  • If a manager is managing people who all have identical duties then they can usually handle more directs than if there is a diversity of duties
  • If work is steady day to day and rarely changing (e.g. production line) then a manager can usually handle more directs than if work is variable in both volume and type (e.g. project environment)
  • If a manager is only doing management work then they can usually handle more directs than if they are also working as Individual Contributors
  • If the manager is expected to train (as distinct from coach, MT definition) their staff then they can usually handle fewer directs than if they are not
  • If the team is fairly static then a manager can usually handle more directs than if turnover is high or dealing with restructures)

I've known managers handle 30 direct reports fine (all doing the same job, same day to day, no IC work, very low turn over, department hasn't been restructured for 30 years and training handled by a dedicated training team; basically just did performance management and Time & Attendance management most of the time), I've known managers struggle with 5 direct reports (massive diversity of roles, project enviroment, also worked as IC, department in constant state of restructure).  Both of these managers were in the same employer, a local council.




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