The art of management has been defined, "as knowing exactly what you want men to do, and then seeing that they do it in the best and cheapest way.'" No concise definition can fully describe an art, but the relations between employers and men form without question the most important part of this art. In considering the subject, therefore, until this part of the problem has been fully discussed, the other phases of the art may be left in the background.
It is safe to say that no system or scheme of management should be considered which does not in the long run give satisfaction to both employer and employee, which does not make it apparent that their best interests are mutual, and which does not bring about such thorough and hearty cooperation that they can pull together instead of apart.
What the workmen want from their employers beyond anything else is high wages, and what employers want from their workmen most of all is a low labor cost of manufacture.
These two conditions are not diametrically opposed to one another as would appear at first glance. On the contrary, they can be made to go together in all classes of work, without exception, and in the writer's judgment the existence or absence of these two elements forms the best index to either good or bad management.
This book is written mainly with the object of advocating high wages and low labor cost as the foundation of the best management, of pointing out the general principles which render it possible to maintain these conditions even under the most trying circumstances, and of indicating the various steps which the writer thinks should be taken in changing from a poor system to a better type of management.
The condition of high wages and low labor cost is far from being accepted either by the average manager or the average workman as a practical working basis. It is safe to say that the majority of
employers have a feeling of satisfaction when their workmen are receiving lower wages than those of their competitors. On the other hand very many workmen feel contented if they find themselves doing the same amount of work per day as other similar workmen do and yet are getting more pay for it. Employers and workmen alike should look upon both of these conditions with apprehension, as either of them are sure, in the long run, to lead to trouble and loss for both parties.
Through unusual personal influence and energy, or more frequently through especial conditions which are but temporary, such as dull times when there is a surplus of labor, a superintendent may succeed in getting men to work extra hard for ordinary wages. After the men, however, realize that this is the case and an opportunity comes for them to change these conditions, in their reaction against what they believe unjust treatment they are almost sure to lean so far in the other
direction as to do an equally great injustice to their employer.
On the other hand, the men who use the opportunity offered by a scarcity of labor to exact wages higher than the average of their class, without doing more than the average work in return, are merely laying up trouble for themselves in the long run. They grow accustomed to a high rate of living and expenditure, and when the inevitable turn comes and they are either thrown out of employment or forced to accept low wages, they are the losers by the whole transaction.
The only condition which contains the elements of stability and permanent satisfaction is that in which both employer and employees are doing as well or better than their competitors are likely to do, and this in nine cases out of ten means high wages and low labor cost, and both parties should be equally anxious for these conditions to prevail. With them the employer can hold his own with his competitors at all times and secure sufficient work to keep his men busy even in dull times. Without them both parties may do well enough in busy times, but both parties are likely to suffer when work becomes scarce.
The possibility of coupling high wages with a low labor cost rests mainly upon the enormous difference between the amount of work which a first-class man can do under favorable circumstances and the work which is actually done by the average man.
Difference in Production Quantity between a first class man and an average man - F.W. Taylor
F.W. Taylor - Shop Management
Updated on 9 January 2019
Pub on 3 August 2013