Becoming THE Best Supervisor–4 Steps to Increasing Your Team’s Output by 16 Times

What one thing would make you the THE Best Supervisor in Your Company?

Would increasing your team’s output by 16 times do it? I’d bet on it! In fact, it’s likely to get you noticed and promoted.

Actually it’s simple. This is something I do when I’m called into a company to improve performance of groups of employees.

First, let’s start by understanding a little about the 80/20 rule, and then we’ll tweak that so that it helps your team’s output increase by something around 16 times.

The 80/20 Rule– the Concept

You may have heard of the 80/20 rule, but you are going to learn how to make use of it in a way that most people have not understood . . . before this.

What’s not usually understood is that if this rule is applied in a strict manner, in other words, if 80% of the people truly produce only 20% of your companies products or income, and 20% of the people produce 80% of your company’s products and income, then it’s simple . . . the high performers are producing 16 times as much as the low performers.

When I say that, at first I get some disbelief around 2 concepts:

  • Disbelief that the 80/20 rule applies to them.
  • Disbelief that it’s really that much of a spread between the high performers and low performers.

First, I’ve rarely found any company where the 80/20 rules doens’t apply. And, don’t allow the fact that your company is coming in at 70/30 on some projects get in the way of this principle. Over time I’d bet that it’s closer to 80/20, and frankly, when applying THE PRINCIPLE that we’re going to deal with it still applies whether it’s 70/30, 80/20, or 60/40. The impact is huge.

Let’s take a look at some numbers. I made some assumptions just to develop this example, but it applies to almost any variation.

I assumed a company of 100 employees that had $10,000,000 of sales, and $32,000 paid to each employee. (Note; Make sure to include the actual cost of the employee, including benefits).

At the top you can see what the average numbers are per employee for the whole company, and then, using the 80/20 rule you can see how much is contributed by each employee. One thing that quickly shows is that the high performers are generating 16 times more revenue than the low performers (don’t get hung up on whether your company really has an exact 80/20 spread. It’s likely to be somewhere around that, but, even if it isn’t the principles still apply . . . there is a big spread between the higher performers and the low performers. Then learning what the high performers do and transforming the low performers into the high performers will increase your overall results by a LOT.

80/20 Rule Study

Starting Point

Number of employees = 100
Total Company Income = $10 million
Yearly pay for each employee = $32,000
Avg of company income generated per employee = $100,000
Avg ROI contributed per employee = 312.5%

Now if we assume the 80/20 rule, then

  • The high performers — 20% of the employees (20 employees) are producing 80% of of the income ($8 million). They are producing $400,000 per employee.
  • The low performers (80 of them) are producing 20% of the company income, ($2M), which is only $25,000 per employee.

Now pay close attention. Not only are the high performers producing 16 times more than the low performers, but the low performers are only generating $25,000 each while they are paid $32,000 each. In other words they are costing the company more than they produce.

  Income Produced   # People Income generated per employee ROI / Employee    
Avg of all employees $10,000,000 total income 100 $100,000 312.5%    
High performers $8,000,000   20 $400,000 1,250% `16 times more productive than lowest producing employee
Low performers $2,000,000   80 $25,000 78.1%    

Now, we have two choices, eliminate the low performers, and although we’ll be behind on deliveries, the company profitability with go way up.  Or teach the lower performers to perform just like the high performers. Frankly, give them the training and the option, and separate those that can and will from that that can’t or won’t.  Replace those that can’t learn the new skills, or move them to another job.

And the result can be seen below.

Now we’ve got 100 employees each producing $400,000 each and we’ve increased the total company income and output by 4 times, from $10M to $40M.

  Income Produced   # People Income generated per employee ROI / Employee    
All Employees producing $400,000 each $40,000,000 total income 100 $400,000 1,250% 4 times more productive than the average company output before we identified and fixed the problem

Wouldn’t you like to be known for increasing your team’s results by 8-16 times? Or having increase the total company income by 4 times? An additional $30M.

And frankly, whether you are a strong believer in the 80/20 rule or not, it pretty much says that doubling, tripling, or possibly even more the output of your team is certainly very possible. So don’t get hung up on whether the 80/20 rule is exact, or whether it’s  60/40 or whatever. the principle still applies, learn from the best and get the lowest performers doing it.

So, What’s the Biggest Difference Between the High Performers and Low Performers?

There are ONLY three things

  • Knowledge –What they know, about the process, what they do and how they do it that”s different from the low performers.
  • Skills — That’s how good they have become at doing what they do.
  • Mindset — That’s what they believe and how motivated they are to become the best.


Your first step is to: Learn what the high performers know. In some cases it might simply be that they have learned what you’ve told them better than others, and in some cases, they may actually know something you don’t know, or that others in the team don’t know.

Learn what they know and then help others on the team to learn it to.

In some cases, these high performers may not even know what they know that is so valuable, so “just asking them” might work, and it might not. If they don’t know how valuable their knowledge is, then they won’t even be able to answer some of your questions. It’s up to you, as the supervisor, to learn that knowledge from them.


Ity’s VERY IMPORTANT for you to realize the difference between KNOWLEDGE and SKILLS.

Knowledge is like book learning. You can read all about what to do, how to do it, but you won’t become GOOD at the DOING IT until you’ve practiced and practiced and practiced. And, in some cases, different people will reach different levels of skill based on some natural basic motor skills, and in some cases, they just haven’t developed some one little part of that skill because they haven’t experienced it the way someone else has.

I love to use this analogy in my supervisor training programs.

You can’t learn to ride a bicycle in a seminar!

What that says is simply that you can read all of the books you can on the subject of riding a bicycle, but when you get onto that bicycle “you WILL fall off.” And it takes time to build a skill of “staying on”. You will fall off a lot, and skin your kneeds, until you finally

  • Learn to stay on,
  • Become comfortable at staying on
  • Start to win a few races
  • And finally, may even, eventually become an Olympic bike rider

Each of those levels require more time, and developing a higher skill. And, when you started you may have already read every book you could lay your hands on, but you still fell off, skinned your knees, and little by little became comfortable at staying on, and worked your way up that ladder of different skills to whatever level you may be at this point.

As a supervisor, your job is to run along side of that bike as they fall off and skin their knees. You are like your dad was when you fell off your bike and skinned your knees, running alongside of the bike, and helping them get back on. Your skill as the supervisor to help them develop that skill, determines how fast they move from falling off to reaching some level of skill.


Mindset is based on a belief about how you do something, or the RIGHT way to do something, or whether you should do it at all.

So, if you, as a supervisor, have told someone to do it “this way” and if from some previous experience they’ve had, they believe that your way “isn’t the RIGHT way” what do you think happens?

Of course, you EXPECT them to do it your way, but they don’t believe in it. That can result in actually two different outcomes, neither will make you happy.

  1. They may walk away saying to themselves, “I’ll show him. I know an even better way to do this.” If they are right maybe they can show you something. But, if you have been doing this well for a long time, it’s likely that you do know your stuff, and you can’ understand why they aren’t getting the results you wanted. It’s because that person is off doing his own thing even when you told him to do it another.
  2. OR, because he doesn’t believe in it, and because he’s the kind of person who will do exactly what you say, he might have walked away mumbling, “Stupid! That’s never work, but I’ll do it the way he told me, and I’ll show him that it won’t work.” Their heart isn’t into it, they aren’t motivated to become the best. They just “do what they are told” without motivation.
  3. Of course, we HOPE that even if they disagree, that they’ll give it an honest try and then will be convinced once they see the results, but not everyone is this ideal of a worker.

Knowledge –> Skills –> Mindset

Those are the three issues that will determine a higher performer, and will also determine a low performer. So, supervisor, it’s your job to

  • Identify the differences in the high performers and low performers so that you can get the low performers
    • Learning what the high performers are doing (knowledge)
    • Developing the skills of becoming as good as the high performers (skills)
    • Looking for the mindsets that make the high performers what they are, and motivated the way they are –> and help the low performers develop those mindsets to the best of your ability.
  • You will discover that passing along that knowledge, developing the skills, and mindsets will only work with some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.
  • The next step is to determine who’s trainable and who’s not. Some of this will be the ability to gather the knowledge, and develop the skills. And in some cases, the mindsets are too deeply imbedded and some of the people will not be willing to make the transition. And some just can’t gather the knowledge, nor develop the skills.
  • Sort them out by knowledge, skills, and mindsets. Help those that can make the transition. A GREAT employee doesn’t necessarily have to be good at skill 1, but if he is MOTIVATED to become the best of the best, he’ll become a GREAT employee in another skill set. Find it, transfer him around.
  • But finally, there will be some who just will not develop the knowledge, nor skills, no matter how much training you have provided. Sort those that can out and find where they belong. Sort those that can’t out and replace them quickly with those that can. It'[s that simple.

One problem that most supervisors get caught in is that they “have to live with the team they were dealt.” ‘As the supervisor your job is to make this team the high performers, so do it. If the boss tells you you have to live with them, make your recommendations to the boss, along with the WHY we’ve discussed above. “A good boss will appreciate your knowledge of how to run your team the most efficiently.

Alan Boyer

High Performance Supervisor Training,

Kansas City area (and around the world).

One Response to Becoming THE Best Supervisor–4 Steps to Increasing Your Team’s Output by 16 Times

  • Alan – Your analysis seems to be in alignment with national productivity research that suggests only 1 in 4 employees are working 8 hours for 8 hours of pay. 50% are probably giving around 6 for 8 and 25% are giving 4 or less hours. By just improving 10% of those in the middle and couple this with removing as many in the 25% range, any organization would receive dramatic benefit. People leave people (managers) because of poor communication, poor leadership and frustration with the 75% who are not providing 8 for 8. This is truly a management problem due to gaps in strategy, structure, systems, rewards and people.

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