Management Articles


Increased Profits from Systematic Supervision

By: Robert H. Kent, Ph.D., CMC

President of The Mansis Development Corporation, Dr. Kent is a specialist in the structure and management of small and medium-sized organizations, and frequently serves as a personal coach and management consultant to executives for solving their management and employee performance problems. Before founding his consulting company, Bob held senior management and executive positions in federal and provincial government and private corporations. He has been a director of several health care and service organizations and a consulting member of private and government task forces in the areas of government finance, organization structure, personnel management and executive development. Since 1972 he has lectured in management at several Canadian and American universities in the faculties of Management, Administrative Studies, Medicine and Continuing Education where he has been an award winner for excellence in teaching and professional expertise; and he has published over 125 books and articles on management.

Controlling our business' supervision is one of our best strategies for improving performance because all the improvements go directly to the bottom line as profit. But is the quality of supervision in your business the result of a pre-determined process or just serendipity? Businesses should have a systematic process for managing people which can be audited and controlled.

The biggest potential source of improvement in productivity is usually found in our largest expense, and in most businesses that's employee wages and benefits. Most of us have been squeezing as much efficiency as we can from the other expenses we face. We manage inventories as carefully as possible, juggle our accounts payable, upgrade equipment, modernize, re-tool, recycle and re-use. But, there's only so much efficiency we'll ever realize from controlling telephone costs or rent or supplies.

Improving the return on investment in our resources usually involves spending more money for upgrading production processes, equipment or facilities. But the startling thing about improving the performance of our employees is that we can do it for no extra cost. We're already paying wages and benefits for our current productivity level. But if we get our employees more productive through better supervision, our investment in wages and benefits can stay the same.

Not only will any increase in employee productivity go directly to profit, but there's also a multiplier effect. For every 1% improvement in employee productivity, profits can increase by as much as 5% to 20%, depending upon the financial characteristics of our business!

A low-cost strategy to improve employee productivity is to improve supervision - how our employees are directed, motivated, coached and developed. But employee supervision should be a pre-determined and carefully managed process, and not just good luck or left to the judgement of each individual manager. Today, the most successful strategy for business success is to identify, improve and control the "processes" in our business, and employee supervision is one of the most important processes we have. If supervision is not systematically controlled, we've lost our opportunity to increase productivity.

Tragically, even in the 1990's, too many businesses have no systematic process for ensuring productive supervision, and in these businesses the way people are treated by managers and supervisors is out of control. The cost for this serious oversight severely impacts the bottom line.

© Copyright 2001 The Mansis Development Corporation

Other Articles by Robert H. Kent, Ph.D., CMC

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