If you are a people manager, how many direct reports should you have? I had an Executive VP who thought it should never be more than 6. Other companies set guidelines by management level (e.g. a Manager should have 15-20, a Director less, etc.)
Is there a good way to establish this number?
I’m partway in a new book, Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World, by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. These are three separate quotes from the chapter about the second lie I found especially interesting:
- “So, each and every week these leaders have a brief check-in with each team member, during which they ask two simple questions: What are your priorities this week? How can I help?”
- “This leads us to one of the most important insights shared by the best team leaders: frequency trumps quality.”
- “But by pinpointing the weekly check-in as the single most powerful ritual of the world’s best team leaders, we can now know the exact span of control that’s right for every single team leader: it’s the number of people that you, and only you, can check in with every week.”
When there are questions about how many direct reports a given Manager/Director/etc. should have, this may be a perfect test. Ultimately, if we cannot properly support your employees, we have too many.