Leaders! Your People Matter


Your organization will live and die by the people you choose to be a part of it. This is why not only considering the people you choose but also the structure you choose and the placement of those people is so critical. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Consider Span of Control in your Organization

Span of control” refers to the number of subordinates controlled directly by a superior (Harrison, 2014). This is something that should be considered ahead of time and something that should not be just mapped out without knowing your people. With a narrow span of management, people reporting to a manager is comparatively low. In a wide span of management, people reporting to managers are comparatively high (Agrawala, 2009).

Administrative theorists concluded many decades ago that the most effective organizations have a narrow span of control. Yet some of today’s top-performing organizations have a wide span of control. I believe this is possible because of “experience” and money. First, it should be noted that a wide span of control is more beneficial from a monetary standpoint because it is less expensive as compared to a narrow span of control. This is because there are fewer superiors, and therefore there are fewer communication problems between various levels of management (Juneja, 2014). This equates to reduced redundancies.

Second, it is safe to assume that top-performing organizations have experienced and well-trained people. Experienced and well-trained people require less supervision, allowing for wider spans of control. This also equates to fewer quality control issues, mistakes, etc. It is better for large organizations, so they figured out how to make it work.

Circumstances, where organizations should have a narrow span of control might include situations where supervisors are either inexperienced and/or untrained, and workers are either inexperienced and/or untrained. The fact is that the less one knows about the operation or the task at hand, the more supervision one will require. This is why choosing quality people for specific roles is so important.

Choose Good People

I would rather have ten highly competent and motivated individuals than 100 incompetent and unmotivated people any day of the week. Competencies are the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. This takes skills, knowledge, and talent. However, these can be relative in nature. This is especially true when you consider the individual person and the individual task at hand. It can be a substantial problem, too, though, especially if a specific competency is identified, and the organization does not know how to either fully develop it or how to utilize it fully. Still, being that skills can be improved, knowledge can be gained, and given talents can be developed, perhaps the selection of people should come by deciding if the person is competent, capable, and of good character.

BEWARE of Self-Serving Bias

A self-serving bias is basically when a person or organization takes personal credit for success while, at the same time, blaming outside sources for failures. This is obviously a bad thing if progress is critical because you cannot fix what you refuse to see is broken. This would be apparent if the pattern of reports presented by leadership followed this model. I will demonstrate this with a scenario and two examples for clarification.

Scenario: Economic times are hard. The CPI shows a current rate of about 2%. Based on more real and tangible standards, the actual rate can be gauged at almost 6%. This equates to the dollar simply not going as far as it used to. This is because the inflation is compounded by the inflation that came before it, to the tune of roughly 2,284% since 1914.

As a result, consumers are not able to buy as much. Meanwhile, policymakers continue to chase down what to do about it. But this doesn’t mean that retailers must stop trying to make a profit, and it doesn’t mean they stop answering to their corporate leaders.

Examples of Self-Serving Bias

  1. Sales are down. Profit is down. The retailer will likely suggest that the economic climate is to blame for poor performance.
  2. Sales are up. Profit is flat or maybe even increased. This is a victory, and the retailer will likely attribute this victory to processes or leadership for good performance in the face of economic hardship.

What factors influence a person’s organizational loyalty?

I mentioned before that I would rather have ten highly competent and motivated individuals than 100 incompetent and unmotivated people any day of the week. This is partly due to the idea of loyalty. The 100 incompetent and unmotivated people will simply not be loyal to the organization or the mission.

There are numerous factors that influence a person’s organizational loyalty. I believe that the factors that influence a person’s organizational loyalty are provided and ranked (from least to greatest) as follows: organizational comprehension, involvement, shared values, trust, justice and support, and compensation (McShane, Von Glinow, 2013).

I rank it this way because a person does not need to understand everything about the organization to be loyal. Sure it helps, but it’s not necessary. Total involvement is also not entirely necessary, at least not for all workers. Shared values begin to rank because it becomes a lot more personal at this point. The same can be said for trust. Ultimately, the bigger key factors would undoubtedly come down to how they are treated personally and what they are getting out of it.

Just remember, how you structure your organization matters. The type of people you recruit matters. How you address your victories and losses matters. And when your formula is right, loyalty to the organization increases. However, it all starts with you… the leader.

Be sure to read my article “Team Development – Stages.


McShane, S. L., & Von, G. M. A. Y. (2013). Organizational behavior: [emerging knowledge, global reality]. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Agrawala, K. (2009, October 12). What are the advantages and disadvantages of narrow span in management? – Homework Help – eNotes.com. enotes.com. Retrieved , from http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/advantages-disadvantages-narrow-span-management-107123
Harrison, S. (2014, January 1). Span of Control. Inc.com. Retrieved , from http://www.inc.com/encyclopedia/span-of-control.html
Juneja, H. (2014, January 1). Span of Control in an Organization. Span of Control in an Organization. Retrieved , from http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Span_of_Control_in_an_Organization.html