Saturday, August 3, 2013

Functional Foremanship - F.W. Taylor

Evidently the foreman's duties
are in no way clearly circumscribed. It is left each day entirely to his
judgment what small part of the mass of duties before him it is most
important for him to attend to, and he staggers along under this
fraction of the work for which he is responsible, leaving the balance to
be done in many cases as the gang bosses and workmen see fit. The second
principle calls for such conditions that the daily task can always be
accomplished. The conditions in his case are always such that it is
impossible for him to do it all, and he never even makes pretence of
fulfilling his entire task. The third and fourth principles call for
high pay in case the task is successfully done, and low pay in case of
failure. The failure to realize the first two conditions, however,
renders the application of the last two out of the question.

The foreman usually endeavors to lighten his burdens by delegating his
duties to the various assistant foremen or gang bosses in charge of
lathes, planers, milling machines, vise work, etc. Each of these men is
then called upon to perform duties of almost as great variety as those
of the foreman himself. The difficulty in obtaining in one man the
variety of special information and the different mental and moral
qualities necessary to perform all of the duties demanded of those men
has been clearly summarized in the following list of the nine qualities
which go to make up a well rounded man:



Special or technical knowledge; manual dexterity or strength.





Judgment or common sense and

Good health.

Plenty of men who possess only three of the above qualities can be hired
at any time for laborers' wages. Add four of these qualities together
and you get a higher priced man. The man combining five of these
qualities begins to be hard to find, and those with six, seven, and
eight are almost impossible to get. Having this fact in mind, let us go
over the duties which a gang boss in charge, say, of lathes or planers,
is called upon to perform, and note the knowledge and qualities which
they call for. First. He must be a good machinist--and this alone calls
for years of special training, and limits the choice to a comparatively
small class of men.

Second. He must be able to read drawings readily, and have sufficient
imagination to see the work in its finished state clearly before him.
This calls for at least a certain amount of brains and education.

Third. He must plan ahead and see that the right jigs, clamps, and
appliances, as well as proper cutting tools, are on hand, and are used
to set the work correctly in the machine and cut the metal at the right
speed and feed. This calls for the ability to concentrate the mind upon
a multitude of small details, and take pains with little, uninteresting

Fourth. He must see that each man keeps his machine clean and in good
order. This calls for the example of a man who is naturally neat and
orderly himself.

Fifth. He must see that each man turns out work of the proper quality.
This calls for the conservative judgment and the honesty which are the
qualities of a good inspector.

Sixth. He must see that the men under him work steadily and fast. To
accomplish this he should himself be a hustler, a man of energy, ready
to pitch in and infuse life into his men by working faster than they do,
and this quality is rarely combined with the painstaking care, the
neatness and the conservative judgment demanded as the third, fourth,
and fifth requirements of a gang boss.

Seventh. He must constantly look ahead over the whole field of work and
see that the parts go to the machines in their proper sequence, and that
the right job gets to each machine.

Eighth. He must, at least in a general way, supervise the timekeeping
and fix piece work rates. Both the seventh and eighth duties call for a
certain amount of clerical work and ability, and this class of work is
almost always repugnant to the man suited to active executive work, and
difficult for him to do; and the rate-fixing alone requires the whole
time and careful study of a man especially suited to its minute detail.

Ninth. He must discipline the men under him, and readjust their wages;
and these duties call for judgment, tact, and judicial fairness.

It is evident, then, that the duties which the ordinary gang boss is
called upon to perform would demand of him a large proportion of the
nine attributes mentioned above; and if such a man could be found he
should be made manager or superintendent of a works instead of gang
boss. However, bearing in mind the fact that plenty of men can be had
who combine four or five of these attributes, it becomes evident that
the work of management should be so subdivided that the various
positions can be filled by men of this caliber, and a great part of the
art of management undoubtedly lies in planning the work in this way.
This can, in the judgment of the writer, be best accomplished by
abandoning the military type of organization and introducing two broad
and sweeping changes in the art of management:

(a) As far as possible the workmen, as well as the gang bosses and
foremen, should be entirely relieved of the work of planning, and of all
work which is more or less clerical in its nature. All possible brain
work should be removed from the shop and centered in the planning or
laying-out department, leaving for the foremen and gang bosses work
strictly executive in its nature. Their duties should be to see that the
operations planned and directed from the planning room are promptly
carried out in the shop. Their time should be spent with the men,
teaching them to think ahead, and leading and instructing them in their

(b) Throughout the whole field of management the military type of
organization should be abandoned, and what may be called the'
"functional type" substituted in its place. "Functional management"
consists in so dividing the work of management that each man from the
assistant superintendent down shall have as few functions as possible to
perform. If practicable the work of each man in the management should be
confined to the performance of a single leading function. Under the
ordinary or military type, the workmen are divided into groups. The men
in each group receive their orders from one man only, the foreman or
gang boss of that group. This man is the single agent through which the
various functions of the management are brought into contact with the
men. Certainly the most marked outward characteristic of functional
management lies in the fact that each workman, instead of coming in
direct contact with the management at one point only, namely, through
his gang boss, receives his daily orders and help directly from eight
different bosses, each of whom performs his own particular function.
Four of these bosses are in the planning room and of these three send
their orders to and receive their returns from the men, usually in
writing. Four others are in the shop and personally help the men in
their work, each boss helping in his own particular `line or function
only. Some of these bosses come in contact with each man only once or
twice a day and then for a few minutes perhaps, while others are with
the men all the time, and help each man frequently. The functions of one
or two of these bosses require them to come in contact with each workman
for so short a time each day that they can perform their particular
duties perhaps for all of the men in the shop, and in their line they
manage the entire shop. Other bosses are called upon to help their men
so much and so often that each boss can perform his function for but a
few men, and in this particular line a number of bosses are required,
all performing the same function but each having his particular group of
men to help. Thus the grouping of the men in the shop is entirely
changed, each workman belonging to eight different groups according to
the particular functional boss whom he happens to be working under at
the moment.

The following is a brief description of the duties of the four types of
executive functional bosses which the writer has found it profitable to
use in the active work of the shop: (1) gang bosses, (2) speed bosses,
(3) inspectors, and (4) repair bosses.

The gang boss has charge of the preparation of all work up to the time
that the piece is set in the machine. It is his duty to see that every
man under him has at all times at least one piece of work ahead at his
machine, with all the jigs, templates, drawings, driving mechanism,
sling chains, etc., ready to go into his machine as soon as the piece he
is actually working on is done. The gang boss must show his men how to
set their work in their machines in the quickest time, and see that they
do it. He is responsible for the work being accurately and quickly set,
and should be not only able but willing to pitch in himself and show the
men how to set the work in record time.

The speed boss must see that the proper cutting tools are used for each
piece of work, that the work is properly driven, that the cuts are
started in the right part of the piece, and that the best speeds and
feeds and depth of cut are used. His work begins only after the piece is
in the lathe or planer, and ends when the actual machining ends. The
speed boss must not only advise his men how best to do this work, but he
must see that they do it in the quickest time, and that they use the
speeds and feeds and depth of cut as directed on the instruction card In
many cases he is called upon to demonstrate that the work can be done in
the specified time by doing it himself in the presence of his men.

The inspector is responsible for the quality of the work, and both the
workmen and speed bosses must see that the work is all finished to suit
him. This man can, of course, do his work best if he is a master of the
art of finishing work both well and quickly.

The repair boss sees that each workman keeps his machine clean, free
from rust and scratches, and that he oils and treats it properly, and
that all of the standards established for the care and maintenance of
the machines and their accessories are rigidly maintained, such as care
of belts and shifters, cleanliness of floor around machines, and orderly
piling and disposition of work.

The following is an outline of the duties of the four functional bosses
who are located in the planning room, and who in their various functions
represent the department in its connection with the men. The first three
of these send their directions to and receive their returns from the
men, mainly in writing. These four representatives of the planning
department are, the (1) order of work and route clerk, (2) instruction
card clerk, (3) time and cost clerk, and (4) shop disciplinarian.

Order of Work and Route Clerk. After the route clerk in the planning
department has laid out the exact route which each piece of work is to
travel through the shop from machine to machine in order that it may be
finished at the time it is needed for assembling, and the work done in
the most economical way, the order of work clerk daily writes lists
instructing the workmen and also all of the executive shop bosses as to
the exact order in which the work is to be done by each class of
machines or men, and these lists constitute the chief means for
directing the workmen in this particular function.

Instruction Card Clerks. The "instruction card," as its name indicates,
is the chief means employed by the planning department for instructing
both the executive bosses and the men in all of the details of their
work. It tells them briefly the general and detail drawing to refer to,
the piece number and the cost order number to charge the work to, the
special jigs, fixtures, or tools to use, where to start each cut, the
exact depth of each cut, and how many cuts to take, the speed and feed
to be used for each cut, and the time within which each operation must
be finished. It also informs them as to the piece rate, the differential
rate, or the premium to be paid for completing the task within the
specified time (according to the system employed); and further, when
necessary, refers them by name to the man who will give them especial
directions. This instruction card is filled in by one or more members of
the planning department, according to the nature and complication of the
instructions, and bears the same relation to the planning room that the
drawing does to the drafting room. The man who sends it into the shop
and who, in case difficulties are met with in carrying out the
instructions, sees that the proper man sweeps these difficulties away,
is called the instruction card foreman.

Time and Cost Clerk. This man sends to the men through the "time ticket"
all the information they need for recording their time and the cost of
the work, and secures proper returns from them. He refers these for
entry to the cost and time record clerks in the planning room.

Shop Disciplinarian. In case of insubordination or impudence, repeated
failure to do their duty, lateness or unexcused absence, the shop
disciplinarian takes the workman or bosses in hand and applies the
proper remedy. He sees that a complete record of each man's virtues and
defects is kept. This man should also have much to do with readjusting
the wages of the workmen. At the very least, he should invariably be
consulted before any change is made. One of his important functions
should be that of peace-maker.

Thus, under functional foremanship, we see that the work which, under
the military type of organization, was done by the single gang boss, is
subdivided among eight men: (1) route clerks, (2) instruction card
clerks, (3) cost and time clerks, who plan and give directions from the
planning room; (4) gang bosses, (5) speed bosses, (6) inspectors, (7)
repair bosses, who show the men how to carry out their instructions, and
see that the work is done at the proper speed; and (8) the shop
disciplinarian, who performs this function for the entire establishment.

The greatest good resulting from this change is that it becomes possible
in a comparatively short time to train bosses who can really and fully
perform the functions demanded of them, while under the old system it
took years to train men who were after all able to thoroughly perform
only a portion of their duties. A glance at the nine qualities needed
for a well rounded man and then at the duties of these functional
foremen will show that each of these men requires but a limited number
of the nine qualities in order to successfully fill his position; and
that the special knowledge which he must acquire forms only a small part
of that needed by the old style gang boss. The writer has seen men taken
(some of them from the ranks of the workmen, others from the old style
bosses and others from among the graduates of industrial schools,
technical schools and colleges) and trained to become efficient
functional foremen in from six to eighteen months. Thus it becomes
possible with functional foremanship to thoroughly and completely equip
even a new company starting on a large scale with competent officers in
a reasonable time, which is entirely out of the question under the old
system. Another great advantage resulting from functional or divided
foremanship is that it becomes entirely practicable to apply the four
leading principles of management to the bosses as well as to the
workmen. Each foreman can have a task assigned him which is so
accurately measured that he will be kept fully occupied and still will
daily be able to perform his entire function. This renders it possible
to pay him high wages when he is successful by giving him a premium
similar to that offered the men and leave him with low pay when he

The full possibilities of functional foremanship, however, will not have
been realized until almost all of the machines in the shop are run by
men who are of smaller calibre and attainments, and who are therefore
cheaper than those required under the old system. The adoption of
standard tools, appliances, and methods throughout the shop, the
planning done in the planning room and the detailed instructions sent
them from this department, added to the direct help received from the
four executive bosses, permit the use of comparatively cheap men even on
complicated work. Of the men in the machine shop of the Bethlehem Steel
Company engaged in running the roughing machines, and who were working
under the bonus system when the writer left them, about 95 per cent were
handy men trained up from laborers. And on the finishing machines,
working on bonus, about 25 per cent were handy men.

To fully understand the importance of the work which was being done by
these former laborers, it must be borne in mind that a considerable part
of their work was very large and expensive. The forgings which they were
engaged in roughing and finishing weighed frequently many tons. Of
course they were paid more than laborer's wages, though not as much as
skilled machinists. The work in this shop was most miscellaneous in its

Functional foremanship is already in limited use in many of the best
managed shops. A number of managers have seen the practical good that
arises from allowing two or three men especially trained in their
particular lines to deal directly with the men instead of at second hand
through the old style gang boss as a mouthpiece. So deep rooted,
however, is the conviction that the very foundation of management rests
in the military type as represented by the principle that no workman can
work under two bosses at the same time, that all of the managers who are
making limited use of the functional plan seem to feel it necessary to
apologize for or explain away their use of it; as not really in this
particular case being a violation of that principle. The writer has
never yet found one, except among the works which he had assisted in
organizing, who came out squarely and acknowledged that he was using
functional foremanship because it was the right principle.

The writer introduced five of the elements of functional foremanship
into the management of the small machine shop of the Midvale Steel
Company of Philadelphia while he was foreman of that shop in 1882-1883:
(1) the instruction card clerk, (2) the time clerk, (3) the inspector,
(4) the gang boss, and (5) the shop disciplinarian. Each of these
functional foremen dealt directly with the workmen instead of giving
their orders through the gang boss. The dealings of the instruction card
clerk and time clerk with the workmen were mostly in writing, and the
writer himself performed the functions of shop disciplinarian, so that
it was not until he introduced the inspector, with orders to go straight
to the men instead of to the gang boss, that he appreciated the
desirability of functional foremanship as a distinct principle in
management. The prepossession in favor of the military type was so
strong with the managers and owners of Midvale that it was not until
years after functional foremanship was in continual use in this shop
that he dared to advocate it to his superior officers as the correct

Until very recently in his organization of works he has found it best to
first introduce five or six of the elements of functional foremanship
quietly, and get them running smoothly in a shop before calling
attention to the principle involved. When the time for this announcement
comes, it invariably acts as the proverbial red rag on the bull. It was
some years later that the writer subdivided the duties of the "old gang
boss" who spent his whole time with the men into the four functions of
(1) speed boss, (2) repair boss, (3) inspector, and (4) gang boss, and
it is the introduction of these four shop bosses directly helping the
men (particularly that of the speed boss) in place of the single old
boss, that has produced the greatest improvement in the shop.

When functional foremanship is introduced in a large shop, it is
desirable that all of the bosses who are performing the same function
should have their own foreman over them; for instance, the speed bosses
should have a speed foreman over them, the gang bosses, a head gang
boss; the inspectors, a chief inspector, etc., etc. The functions of
these over-foremen are twofold. The first part of their work is to teach
each of the bosses under them the exact nature of his duties, and at the
start, also to nerve and brace them up to the point of insisting that
the workmen shall carry out the orders exactly as specified on the
instruction cards. This is a difficult task at first, as the workmen
have been accustomed for years to do the details of the work to suit
themselves, and many of them are intimate friends of the bosses and
believe they know quite as much about their business as the latter. The
second function of the over-foreman is to smooth out the difficulties
which arise between the different types of bosses who in turn directly
help the men. The speed boss, for instance, always follows after the
gang boss on any particular job in taking charge of the workmen. In this
way their respective duties come in contact edgeways, as it were, for a
short time, and at the start there is sure to be more or less friction
between the two. If two of these bosses meet with a difficulty which
they cannot settle, they send for their respective over-foremen, who are
usually able to straighten it out. In case the latter are unable to
agree on the remedy, the case is referred by them to the assistant
superintendent, whose duties, for a certain time at least, may consist
largely in arbitrating such difficulties and thus establishing the
unwritten code of laws by which the shop is governed. This serves as one
example of what is called the "exception principle" in management, which
is referred to later.

Before leaving this portion of the subject the writer wishes to call
attention to the analogy which functional foremanship bears to the
management of a large, up-to-date school. In such a school the children
are each day successively taken in hand by one teacher after another who
is trained in his particular specialty, and they are in many cases
disciplined by a man particularly trained in this function. The old
style, one teacher to a class plan is entirely out of date.

F.W. Taylor, Shop Management

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