How many people can one person effectively manage?
Ironically enough, on the flight to Chicago for the Effective Managers Conference, I read a piece in the WSJ entitled "Overseeing More Employees - With Fewer Managers". The article discussed a European trend to have more subordinates per manager. The article quoted Michael Hammer, who is a well-known advocate of corporate restructuring ("Reengineering the Corporation").
What struck me about the article is that they never asked if the managers who are taking on 30+ direct reports are doing it well! Since the operative term this week is "effective" - how effective can you be with 30 DRs and is there a maximum above which seriously diminishes our ability to be effective managers? One manager quoted in the article said " I don't really manage them in a typical way. They largely run themselves." Hey now...this seems to go against everything I have listened to on this site.
So...what are other people's experiences with large numbers of direct reports? I know that I feel pretty good about the size of my team, but 30+ makes me want to pass out!