Anytime someone asks me a personnel-related question, my answer is always the same: it depends. Many factors affect the ideal manager-to-technician ratio, and all these factors need to be considered for each individual business to find the right answer. That said, here are some questions you can think about when making this decision for your organization.
What is the experience level of my technicians?
The more experienced your technicians, the less management they will require. If you team is well-trained and has years of experience with your organization or with their skill set, they probably won’t need a lot of oversight. Simply touching base with a manager at the beginning of a shift or even at the start of a week may be enough to set priorities and direction. In this case, one manager for 20 technicians would be workable.
If, on the other hand, you have a young, inexperienced staff of technicians or are facing a great deal of turnover, you probably need a lower manager-to-technician ratio. You may need to train new technicians as well as double-check their work and answer questions throughout the day. If you have the bandwidth to incorporate an additional layer of maintenance supervisors to mentor new technicians, you can keep your manager-to-technician ratio a bit higher.
How difficult or complicated is your maintenance work?
This question is somewhat related to the first because highly trained technicians may be able to tackle complex work just as easily as new technicians can manage lower level work. However, a maintenance manager may have more planning, strategy setting, and data analysis responsibilities when working in more complex environments. In this case, the manager would have less time to oversee technicians. You may want to have four managers for 20 technicians to allow them to have time for other big-picture work.
What level of control do your managers need to have?
If you are a rapidly growing business, you may want your managers to have more control over your maintenance program. Instead of churning through the same type of work orders each day, your maintenance staff may have to deal with growing pains that would require more management oversight and decisions making. In this case, you’d want fewer technicians per manager so that decisions can be made, changed, and implemented more quickly.