Saturday, August 3, 2013

Don't be in a hurry - It Takes Time to Manage Change to High Productivity - F.W. Taylor

Another important factor is the question of time. If any one expects
large results in six months or a year in a very large works he is
looking for the impossible. If any one expects to convert union men to a
higher rate of production, coupled with high wages, in six months or a
year, he is expecting next to an impossibility. But if he is patient
enough to wait for two or three years, he can go among almost any set of
workmen in the country and get results.

Some method of disciplining the men is unfortunately a necessary element
of all systems of management. It is important that a consistent,
carefully considered plan should be adopted for this as for all other
details of the art. No system of discipline is at all complete which is
not sufficiently broad to cover the great variety in the character and
disposition of the various men to be found in a shop.

There is a large class of men who require really no discipline in the
ordinary acceptance of the term; men who are so sensitive, conscientious
and desirous of doing just what is right that a suggestion, a few words
of explanation, or at most a brotherly admonition is all that they
require. In all cases, therefore, one should begin with every new man by
talking to him in the most friendly way, and this should be repeated
several times over until it is evident that mild treatment does not
produce the desired effect.

Certain men are both thick-skinned and coarse-grained, and these
individuals are apt to mistake a mild manner and a kindly way of saying
things for timidity or weakness. With such men the severity both of
words and manner should be gradually increased until either the desired
result has been attained or the possibilities of the English language
have been exhausted.

Up to this point all systems of discipline should be alike. There will
be found in all shops, however, a certain number of men with whom talk,
either mild or severe, will have little or no effect, unless it produces
the conviction that something more tangible and disagreeable will come
next. The question is what this something shall be.

Discharging the men is, of course, effective as far as that individual
is concerned, and this is in all cases the last step; but it is
desirable to have several remedies between talking and discharging more
severe than the one and less drastic than the other.

Usually one or more of the following expedients are adopted for this

First. Lowering the man's wages.

Second. Laying him off for a longer or shorter period of time.

Third. Fining him.

Fourth. Giving him a series of "bad marks," and when these sum up to
more than a given number per week or month, applying one or the other of
the first three remedies.

The general objections to the first and second expedients is that for a
large number of offenses they are too severe, so that the disciplinarian
hesitates to apply them. The men find this out, and some of them will
take advantage of this and keep much of the time close to the limit. In
laying a man off, also, the employer is apt to suffer as much in many
cases as the man, through having machinery lying idle or work delayed.
The fourth remedy is also objectionable because some men will
deliberately take close to their maximum of "bad marks."

Fining system

In the writer's experience, the fining system, if justly and properly
applied, is more effective and much to be preferred to either of the
others. He has applied this system of discipline in various works with
uniform success over a long period of years, and so far as he knows,
none of those who have tried it under his directions have abandoned it.

The success of the fining system depends upon two elements:

First. The impartiality, good judgment and justice with which it is

Second. Every cent of the fines imposed should in some form be returned
to the workmen. If any part of the fines is retained by the company, it
is next to impossible to keep the workmen from believing that at least a
part of the motive in fining them is to make money out of them; and this
thought works so much harm as to more than overbalance the good effects
of the system. If, however, all of the fines are in some way promptly
returned to the men, they recognize it as purely a system of discipline,
and it is so direct, effective and uniformly just that the best men soon
appreciate its value and approve of it quite as much as the company.

In many cases the writer has first formed a mutual beneficial
association among the employees, to which all of the men as well as the
company contribute. An accident insurance association is much safer and
less liable to be abused than a general sickness or life insurance
association; so that, when practicable, an association of this sort
should be formed and managed by the men. All of the fines can then be
turned over each week to this association and so find their way directly
back to the men. Like all other elements, the fining system should not
be plunged into head first. It should be worked up to gradually and with
judgment, choosing at first only the most flagrant cases for fining and
those offenses which affect the welfare of some of the other workmen. It
will not be properly and most effectively applied until small offenses
as well as great receive their appropriate fine. The writer has fined
men from one cent to as high as sixty dollars per fine. It is most
important that the fines should be applied absolutely impartially to all
employees, high and low. The writer has invariably fined himself just as
he would the men under him for all offenses committed.

The fine is best applied in the form of a request to contribute a
certain amount to the mutual beneficial association, with the
understanding that unless this request is complied with the man will be

In certain cases the fining system may not produce the desired result,
so that coupled with it as an additional means of disciplining the men
should be the first and second expedients of "lowering wages" and
"laying the men off for a longer or shorter time"

The writer does not at all depreciate the value of the many
semi-philanthropic and paternal aids and improvements, such as
comfortable lavatories, eating rooms, lecture halls, and free lectures,
night schools, kindergartens, baseball and athletic grounds, village
improvement societies, and mutual beneficial associations, unless done
for advertising purposes. This kind of so-called welfare work all tends
to improve and elevate the workmen and make life better worth living.
Viewed from the managers' standpoint they are valuable aids in making
more intelligent and better workmen, and in promoting a kindly feeling
among the men for their employers. They are, however, of distinctly
secondary importance, and should never be allowed to engross the
attention of the superintendent to the detriment of the more important
and fundamental elements of management. They should come in all
establishments, but they should come only after the great problem of
work and wages has been permanently settled to the satisfaction of both
parties. The solution of this problem will take more than the entire
time of the management in the average case for several years.

Mr. Patterson, of the National Cash Register Company, of Dayton, Ohio,
has presented to the world a grand object lesson of the combination of
many philanthropic schemes with, in many respects, a practical and
efficient management. He stands out a pioneer in this work and an
example of a kindhearted and truly successful man. Yet I feel that the
recent strike in his works demonstrates all the more forcibly my
contention that the establishment of the semi-philanthropic schemes
should follow instead of preceding the solution of the wages question;
unless, as is very rarely the case, there are brains, energy and money
enough available in a company to establish both elements at the same

F.W. Taylor, Shop Management

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