How many Peas in a Pod? – “City Hall Undergoes Makeover”: Daily News, May 4, 2010
While waiting for additional information from Ms. Hartley, the City’s Director of Human Resources, which can clarify several issues raised by the “City Hall Makeover” story in today’s Daily News, I would make a couple of general observations about organizations and their success.
Let me begin with the matter of Span of Control. Span of Control refers generally to the number of people who report to a single superior. While there is, of course, no set rule, the literature generally indicates that a manager will have between 4 and 22 people reporting to them.
For a discussion of organizational structure go to:
The width of that span has connotations for the organization which have been outlined in the above document which notes generally that a narrow span of control may be associated with: close supervision, high management costs, less independence for subordinates and poor executive communication. A broader span of control may be associated with overloaded supervisors, better operational costs, delegation of authority, and better communication between employees and top management.
It is my intuition that the span of control in the City is very close. I note that there are only three people for whom the City Manager is directly responsible and one of them is the newly appointed Assistant City Manager. I await an organization chart to see what the new top rungs look like and whether the old close supervision pattern holds true on a broader scale.
It seems that our Council decided that they had to appoint an Assistant City Manager to handle things when the City Manager is absent. There may be some logic to this as given holidays and sick days he could be absent for up to 45 weeks a year, i.e. up to 9 weeks in holidays and up to 36 weeks in short term sick days. Take away statutory holidays and a year is pretty well shot. But rather than hiring an old boy from the lineup, I have seen places where possible future leaders are rotated through the substitutions and thus everybody learns what it takes and a pool of possible replacements is created. This structure seemed to work well to me. We seem to be pretty rigid in Nanaimo. Is it serving us well? Your opinions are solicited.
Two words seem to have stealthily crept into the common lexicon of our fearful society: “control” and “security”.
And now the phrase: “span of control”.
“Control”! How well I remember the occasion of being aggressively shut-up by the clearly out-of-control Mr. Gary Noble, with the alien (to me) phrase, “this meeting is over” as he demonstrated his lack of experience, talent and qualifications when confronted by a seasoned professional who has all those attributes and more!
Within what “span of control” jurisdiction does he fall?
But he is not alone!
Add to that a council with the gatekeeper influence of a ponderous councilor Unger who is, to say the least, of limited civic intellect.
Clr. Unger manifests his limited understanding of his role as he is led, burnt umber proboscis at the fore, to the slaughter by a grotesquely over paid and inexplicably overconfident Nanaimo civic administration.
What “span of control” allows a Councilor Holdom to insult the responsible public dismissing them with the phrase “sprawl is not a zero sum game”. What pray Clr. Holdom does that mean? What “span of control” allows you such nauseating conceit?
Well, now the world of local media has changed!
I don’t have the watchdog expertise of Ron or Fred but I respect their vigilance: albeit, their access to media was pretty limited. But no more: they have Nanaimo City Hall blog. USE IT!
The Daily and the Bully have, as we all know abused its lack-luster selves for decades. With the editorial dullards Unger and Bellaart what else would we expect?
“Span of control”! What a offensive phrase! Control by and for whom? Huh: It says everything about the snake pit at city hall.
PS let me make clear. All the above excludes Clr. Patjje.
If we have any sense of civic responsibility we must dismiss the tarnished old guard and elect a new administration headed by Mayor Patjje! (Hope you don’t mind Fred).
In my introduction to this topic, I indicated that I would update readers with a better idea of the City of Nanaimo’s organizational structure and that I was awaiting input from the city.
Today I received a response from Ms. Hartley, Director of Human Resources that it is anticipated that “it will be a couple of weeks before the updates will be completed…” I will let you know when this information is available for examination.