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.
F.W. Taylor - Shop Management