Saturday, August 3, 2013

Need for Functional Foremanship or Functional Organization of Foremen - F.W. Taylor

It is this great difference in the type of the organization required
that so frequently renders managers who have been eminently successful
in one line utter failures when they undertake the direction of works of
a different kind. This is particularly true of men successful in tonnage
work who are placed in charge of shops involving much greater detail.

In selecting an organization for illustration, it would seem best to
choose one of the most elaborate. The manner in which this can be
simplified to suit a less intricate case will readily suggest itself to
any one interested in the subject. One of the most difficult works to
organize is that of a large engineering establishment building
miscellaneous machinery, and the writer has therefore chosen this for

Practically all of the shops of this class are organized upon what may
be called the military plan. The orders from the general are transmitted
through the colonels, majors, captains, lieutenants and noncommissioned
officers to the men. In the same way the orders in industrial
establishments go from the manager through superintendents, foremen of
shops, assistant foremen and gang bosses to the men. In an establishment
of this kind the duties of the foremen, gang bosses, etc., are so
varied, and call for an amount of special information coupled with such
a variety of natural ability, that only men of unusual qualities to
start with, and who have had years of special training, can perform them
in a satisfactory manner. It is because of the difficulty--almost the
impossibility of getting suitable foremen and gang bosses, more than for
any other reason, that we so seldom hear of a miscellaneous machine
works starting in on a large scale and meeting with much, if any,
success for the first few years. This difficulty is not fully realized
by the managers of the old well established companies, since their
superintendents and assistants have grown up with the business, and have
been gradually worked into and fitted for their especial duties through
years of training and the process of natural selection. Even in these
establishments, however, this difficulty has impressed itself upon the
managers so forcibly that most of them have of late years spent
thousands of dollars in re-grouping their machine tools for the purpose
of making their foremanship more effective. The planers have been placed
in one group, slotters in another, lathes in another, etc., so as to
demand a smaller range of experience and less diversity of knowledge
from their respective foremen.

For an establishment, then, of this kind, starting up on a large scale,
it may be said to be an impossibility to get suitable superintendents
and foremen.

The writer found this difficulty at first to be an almost insurmountable
obstacle to his work in organizing manufacturing establishments; and
after years of experience, overcoming the opposition of the heads of
departments and the foremen and gang bosses, and training them to their
new duties, still remains the greatest problem in organization. The
writer has had comparatively little trouble in inducing workmen to
change their ways and to increase their speed, providing the proper
object lessons are presented to them, and time enough is allowed for
these to produce their effect. It is rarely the case, however, that
superintendents and foremen can find any reasons for changing their
methods, which, as far as they can see, have been successful. And
having, as a rule, obtained their positions owing to their unusual force
of character, and being accustomed daily to rule other men, their
opposition is generally effective.

In the writer's experience, almost all shops are under-officered.
Invariably the number of leading men employed is not sufficient to do
the work economically. Under the military type of organization, the
foreman is held responsible for the successful running of the entire
shop, and when we measure his duties by the standard of the four leading
principles of management above referred to, it becomes apparent that in
his case these conditions are as far as possible from being fulfilled.
His duties may be briefly enumerated in the following way. He must lay
out the work for the whole shop, see that each piece of work goes in the
proper order to the right machine, and that the man at the machine knows
just what is to be done and how he is to do it. He must see that the
work is not slighted, and that it is done fast, and all the while he
must look ahead a month or so, either to provide more men to do the work
or more work for the men to do. He must constantly discipline the men
and readjust their wages, and in addition to this must fix piece work
prices and supervise the timekeeping.

The first of the four leading principles in management calls for a
clearly defined and circumscribed task.

F.W. Taylor, Shop Management

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