The term "wide span of control," as a ratio between manager and direct reports, refers to a manager's authority over a large number of subordinates. A manager with a narrow span of control has direct authority over a fewer number of staff members, according to Inc. Magazine.
Optimal span of control is determined in part by the nature of the work being done and the stability of the business. Workers with routine duties typically have less need for managerial input, and a wide span of control may be the most efficient form of management. Complex jobs that routinely require manager approval or assistance are best managed with a narrow span of control.