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How many direct reports do you have?

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On Wednesday, I asked readers of SmartBrief on Leadership the following question in our daily e-mail newsletter:

How many direct reports do you have?

  • 7 or more: 30.83%
  • 1-3: 24.90%
  • 4-6: 23.72%
  • Zero: 20.55%

How many is too many? This poll serves only as a first inquiry into the work lives of managers, but we at least know that nearly 80% of respondents are responsible for managing at least one person at their job. There is a lot written — for good reason — about people who move from being star performers to being stars who also must be accountable for developing others. However, having too many direct reports can be a problem of its own; to give just one example, this story of the revival of General Motors by former CEO and Chairman Ed Whitacre reveals his shock that his predecessor could have 15 to 20 senior-level direct reports. Our respondents are not quite as burdened, but nearly one-third of them have at least seven people under them.

How many direct reports is too many, and how do you find the time? Share in the comments.

James daSilva is a senior editor at SmartBrief and managing editor of SmartBlog on Leadership.