Saturday, August 3, 2013

Difference in Production Quantity between a first class man and an average man - F.W. Taylor

That there is a difference between the average and the first-class man
is known to all employers, but that the first-class man can do in most
cases from two to four times as much as is done by an average man is
known to but few, and is fully realized only by those who have made a
thorough and scientific study of the possibilities of men.

The writer has found this enormous difference between the first-class
and average man to exist in all of the trades and branches of labor
which he has investigated, and these cover a large field, as he,
together with several of his friends, has been engaged with more than
usual opportunities for thirty years past in carefully and
systematically studying this subject.

The difference in the output of first-class and average men is as little
realized by the workmen as by their employers. The first-class men know
that they can do more work than the average, but they have rarely made
any careful study of the matter. And the writer has over and over again
found them utterly incredulous when he informed them, after close
observation and study, how much they were able to do. In fact, in most
cases when first told that they are able to do two or three times as
much as they have done they take it as a joke and will not believe that
one is in earnest.

It must be distinctly understood that in referring to the possibilities
of a first-class man the writer does not mean what he can do when on a
spurt or when he is over-exerting himself, but what a good man can keep
up for a long term of years without injury to his health. It is a pace
under which men become happier and thrive.

The second and equally interesting fact upon which the possibility of
coupling high wages with low labor cost rests, is that first-class men
are not only willing but glad to work at their maximum speed, providing
they are paid from 30 to 100 per cent more than the average of their

The exact percentage by which the wages must be increased in order to
make them work to their maximum is not a subject to be theorized over,
settled by boards of directors sitting in solemn conclave, nor voted
upon by trades unions. It is a fact inherent in human nature and has
only been determined through the slow and difficult process of trial and

The writer has found, for example, after making many mistakes above and
below the proper mark, that to get the maximum output for ordinary shop
work requiring neither especial brains, very close application, skill,
nor extra hard work, such, for instance, as the more ordinary kinds of
routine machine shop work, it is necessary to pay about 30 per cent more
than the average. For ordinary day labor requiring little brains or
special skill, but calling for strength, severe bodily exertion, and
fatigue, it is necessary to pay from 50 per cent to 60 per cent above
the average. For work requiring especial skill or brains, coupled with
close application, but without severe bodily exertion, such as the more
difficult and delicate machinist's work, from 70 per cent to 80 per cent
beyond the average. And for work requiring skill, brains, close
application, strength, and severe bodily exertion, such, for instance,
as that involved in operating a well run steam hammer doing
miscellaneous work, from 80 per cent to 100 per cent beyond the average.

There are plenty of good men ready to do their best for the above
percentages of increase, but if the endeavor is made to get the right
men to work at this maximum for less than the above increase, it will be
found that most of them will prefer their old rate of speed with the
lower pay. After trying the high speed piece work for a while they will
one after another throw up their jobs and return to the old day work
conditions. Men will not work at their best unless assured a good
liberal increase, which must be permanent.

In referring to high wages and low labor cost as fundamental in good
management, the writer is most desirous not to be misunderstood.

By high wages he means wages which are high only with relation to the
average of the class to which the man belongs and which are paid only to
those who do much more or better work than the average of their class.
 It would seem to be the duty of employers, therefore, both in their own interest and
in that of their employees, to see that each workman is given as far as
possible the highest class of work for which his brains and physique fit

F.W. Taylor - Shop Management

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