• Project Title:
  • Supervisory Span of Control - Southern Area
  • Start Date:
  • Thursday, February 2, 2017
  • Estimated Report Release Date:
  • July 2017

Managers and supervisors provide oversight at post offices and stations. Title 39, U.S.C. §101 Part 1, Chapter 1, states; the Postal Service “. . . shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas . . .” 

In addition, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 highlights the need for the Postal Service to increase its efficiency and reduce its costs, including infrastructure costs, to help maintain a high quality, affordable organization. Span of control is an important factor to consider in the Postal Service cost reduction efforts.

Span of control is defined as the number of subordinates in an organization who report directly to one supervisor. A small number of direct reports will create a narrow span of control, which can allow managers more time with direct reports, and tends to spark professional growth and advancement. It can also have a negative impact, because managers can become too involved with direct reports, which can reduce innovation and morale.

In contrast, a large number of direct reports will create a wide span of control. This approach forces managers to develop clear goals, delegate effectively and increase the number of interactions between managers. Employees may take on more responsibilities and have higher morale with a wider span of control. However, managers can become overwhelmed, because they become overloaded with work, have trouble making decisions and lose control over their subordinates.

The Postal Service does not have a defined span of control for delivery operations. Span of control for delivery operations is analyzed using a Supervisor Workload Credit (SWC) Worksheet. SWCs identify the number of supervisors, Customer Service Executive Administration and Schedule (EAS-17) authorized at each post office and carrier station and are measured on a facility by facility basis.

The primary measure used is the number and type of employees supervised. The calculation of SWCs includes only those employees on the rolls of the post office, including temporary employees occupying a position authorized to be filled. Vacant positions that are authorized to be filled should also be included in the SWC calculation, if they are not covered by temporary employees.  

  • Should the Postal Service have a defined span of control for delivery operations?
  • What factors should determine the number of subordinates that can be effectively managed by one supervisor? 
  • What are other advantages or disadvantages of having a defined span of control within an organization?

Comments (7)

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  • anon

    This review is limited in scope "delivery operations" and hopefully in its initial analysis, excluded any other potential customer service activity at an office, station, branch, such as any retail, passport, bulk mail acceptance, customer interactions in the facility, etc. as these functions requires additional supervisory responsibility that if not properly accounted, will skew delivery operation-only SWC data. Therefore, if solely looking at the span of control of the supervision of delivery operations in that vacuum; yes, I would expect data can be used to define such a ratio from where to begin. However, supervision of delivery operations cannot and should not be confined to the walls of the facility. Street management is an important element of delivery operations supervision that is not easily calculated (time is not always controlled by the supervisor), but needs to be included in the final determination of a facility management team. Without it's inclusion, and doing so through careful and extensive data analysis of the varied delivery operations nation-wide; large city to remote rural, I believe we will see the continuation of short-handed supervision in many offices.

    Mar 20, 2017
  • anon

    This is ridiculous. The USPS wants more Supervisors?? They don't use the ones properly now. Every day Supervisors and PM's in Level 18/20 offices are pulled to perform 1838's and 99's. Clerks then run those offices. Obviously those Supervisors aren't needed for Delivery or Window Operations in their offices. Lets add 1 critical point. Offices are run from the District Office. DOIS and the DM run the show. Conference calls and reports don't need more attendees. Carriers are tracked more closely than the parcels. Take the money and buy some decent computers. #nonewsupervisorpositions

    Mar 20, 2017
  • anon

    "Do delivery units have the correct Supervisory Span of Control?" Considering I've spoken with 4 people at my local post office, 2 at the corporate office, filed 3 claims, and left 5 voicemail messages with my local USPS consumer affairs office which remain unreturned - I would say no way! All calls and claims are related to my carrier CONTINUING to deliver my packages to the wrong address and other's mail to my address. Something is definitely broken with the system and needs to be fixed.

    Mar 17, 2017
  • anon

    The practice of rounding down must be stopped. If an office has points that equate to earning 4.9 supervisors HQ only allocates $ to the office, what happens to the 1900 hours of work then. ALSO if you do a field survey stop picking offices that are 20 minutes from the plant. My level 22is an hour and half away. Majority of mail arrived between 630 and 830 AM. This is very difficult to manage. Sort plans were to be reconfigured as part of network optimization to have the furthest offices run first this was not accomplished nationwide

    Mar 16, 2017
  • anon

    Amen! My level 20 office is one of the only city delivery offices in my POOM group without a supervisor. My SWCs has been sitting a mere fraction away from the position forever. Then I finally get the personnel to qualify and HR director decides to not to fill my retirement vacancies and eliminate positions so I remain under the mark. Way to keep your managers "actively engaged". #nothappy

    May 17, 2017
  • anon

    Good points by Robert....Local managers know that mail has been messed up since "network destabilization". Mail arrives late especially at farther out locations....You can't manage what you can't fix. First line managers know the system is not working. Managers up the line seem to not want to rock the boat. They seem to not listen to the people they manage. "I stop being a leader when my people stop bringing me their problems".....Colin Powell.

    Mar 20, 2017
  • anon

    Yes there needs to be a defined standard. We have units with 1 supervisor and 40 + people reporting to them. It is too hard for 1 person in a delivery unit to address attendance, performance issues, set expectations for the day and be dealing with customer issues at the same time. The time they have with the carriers in the office has reduced so much that it does not allow for the supervisor to address/deal with any issues in a complete manner. Someone needs to really shadow a supervisor/ manager/ PM to see what the expectations for those positions really are and the time used to complete the requirements.

    Mar 16, 2017

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