Saturday, August 15, 2015

Role of Top Management in Managing Change to High Productive Shop - F.W. Taylor

Before starting to make any radical changes leading toward an improvement in the system of management, it is desirable, and for ultimate success in most cases necessary, that the directors and the important owners of an enterprise shall be made to understand, at least in a general way, what is involved in the change. They should be informed of the leading objects which the new system aims at, such, for instance, as rendering mutual the interests of employer and employee through "high wages and low labor cost," the gradual selection and development of a body of first class picked workmen who will work extra hard and receive extra high wages and be dealt with individually instead of in masses.

They should thoroughly understand that this can only be accomplished through the adoption of precise and exact methods, and having each smallest detail, both as to methods and appliances, carefully selected so as to be the best of its kind. They should understand the general philosophy of the system and should see that, as a whole, it must be in harmony with its few leading ideas, and that principles and details which are admirable in one type of management have no place whatever in another.

They should be shown that it pays to employ an especial corps to introduce a new system just as it pays to
employ especial designers and workmen to build a new plant; that, while a new system is being introduced, almost twice the number of foremen are required as are needed to run it after it is in; that all of this costs
money, but that, unlike a new plant, returns begin to come in almost from the start from improved methods and appliances as they are introduced, and that in most cases the new system more than pays for
itself as it goes along; that time, and a great deal of time, is involved in a radical change in management, and that in the case of a large works if they are incapable of looking ahead and patiently waiting for from two to four years, they had better leave things just as they are, since a change of system involves a change in the ideas, point of view and habits of many men with strong convictions and prejudices, and that this can only be brought about slowly and chiefly through a series of object lessons, each of which takes time, and through continued reasoning; and that for this reason, after deciding to adopt a given type, the necessary steps should be taken as fast as possible, one after another, for its introduction. The directors should be convinced that an
increase m the proportion of non-producers to producers means increased economy and not red tape, providing the non-producers are kept busy at their respective functions.

They should be prepared to lose some of their valuable men who cannot stand the change and also for the
continued indignant protest of many of their old and trusted employees who can see nothing but extravagance in the new ways and ruin ahead.

It is a matter of the first importance that, in addition to the directors of the company, all of those connected with the management should be given a broad and comprehensive view of the general objects to be
attained and the means which will be employed. They should fully realize before starting on their work and should never lose sight of the fact that the great object of the new organization is to bring about two
momentous changes in the men:

First. A complete revolution in their mental attitude toward their employers and their work.

Second. As a result of this change of feeling such an increase in their determination and physical activity, and such an improvement in the conditions under which the work is done as will result in many cases in
their turning out from two to three times as much work as they have done in the past.

First, then, the men must be brought to see that the new system changes their employers from antagonists to friends who are working as hard as possible side by side with them, all pushing in the same direction and
all helping to bring about such an increase in the output and to so cheapen the cost of production that the men will be paid permanently from thirty to one hundred per cent more than they have earned in the
past, and that there will still be a good profit left over for the company.

At first workmen cannot see why, if they do twice as much work as they have done, they should not receive twice the wages. When the matter is properly explained to them and they have time to think it over, they will see that in most cases the increase in output is quite as much due to the improved appliances and methods, to the maintenance of standards and to the great help which they receive from the men over them as to their own harder work. They will realize that the company must pay for the introduction of the improved system, which costs thousands of dollars, and also the salaries of the additional foremen and of the clerks, etc., in the planning room as well as tool room and other expenses and that, in addition, the company is entitled to an
increased profit quite as much as the men are. All but a few of them will come to understand in a general way that under the new order of things they are cooperating with their employers to make as great a saving as possible and that they will receive permanently their fair share of this gain.

Then after the men acquiesce in the new order of things and are willing to do their part toward cheapening production, it will take time for them to change from their old easy-going ways to a higher rate of speed,
and to learn to stay steadily at their work, think ahead and make every minute count. A certain percentage of them, with the best of intentions, will fail in this and find that they have no place in the new organization, while still others, and among them some of the best workers who are, however, either stupid or stubborn, can never be made to see that the new system is as good as the old; and these, too, must drop out. Let no one imagine, however, that this great change in the mental attitude of the men and the increase in their activity can be brought about by merely talking to them. Talking will be most useful--in fact indispensable--and no opportunity should be lost of explaining matters to them patiently, one man at a time, and giving them every
chance to express their views.

Their real instruction, however, must come through a series of object lessons. They must be convinced that a great increase in speed is possible by seeing here and there a man among them increase his pace and
double or treble his output. They must see this pace maintained until they are convinced that it is not a mere spurt; and, most important of all, they must see the men who "get there" in this way receive a proper
increase in wages and become satisfied. It is only with these object lessons in plain sight that the new theories can be made to stick. It will be in presenting these object lessons and in smoothing away the difficulties so that the high speed can be maintained, and in assisting to form public opinion in the shop, that the great efficiency of functional foremanship under the direction of the planning room will first become apparent.

In reaching the final high rate of speed which shall be steadily maintained, the broad fact should be realized that the men must pass through several distinct phases, rising from one plane of efficiency to another until the final level is reached. First they must be taught to work under an improved system of day work. Each man must learn how to give up his own particular way of doing things, adapt his methods to the many new standards, and grow accustomed to receiving and obeying directions covering details, large and small, which in the past have been left to his individual judgment. At first the workmen can see nothing in all of this but red tape and impertinent interference, and time must be allowed them to recover from their irritation, not only at
this, but at every stage in their upward march. If they have been classed together and paid uniform wages for each class, the better men should be singled out and given higher wages so that they shall distinctly recognize the fact that each man is to be paid according to his individual worth. After becoming accustomed to direction in minor matters, they must gradually learn to obey instructions as to the pace at which they are to work, and grasp the idea, first, that the planning department knows accurately how long each operation should take; and second, that sooner or later they will have to work at the required speed if they expect to prosper. After they are used to following the speed instructions given them, then one at a time they can be raised to the level of maintaining a rapid pace throughout the day. And it is not until this final step has been taken that the full measure of the value of the new system will be felt by the men through daily receiving larger
wages, and by the company through a materially larger output and lower cost of production. It is evident, of course, that all of the workmen in the shop will not rise together from one level to another. Those engaged
in certain lines of work will have reached their final high speed while others have barely taken the first step. The efforts of the new management should not be spread out thin over the whole shop. They should rather be focused upon a few points, leaving the ninety and nine under the care of their former shepherds. After the efficiency of the men who are receiving special assistance and training has been raised to the desired level, the means for holding them there should be perfected, and they should never be allowed to lapse into their old ways. This will, of course, be accomplished in the most permanent way and rendered almost automatic, either through introducing task work with a bonus or the differential rate.

F.W. Taylor, Shop Management

Updated 15 August 2015, 3 August 2013


  1. Interesting to note that in 1870, Schuylkill County, there were 91 collieries. There were only 273 bosses, three for each mine. One mine boss, one assistant mine boss and one breaker boss were there for each mine. 273 engineers were also employed. 14,759 miners, laborers and boys were employed. Therefore miners underground worked with little supervision.

  2. The reference for the above information Page 60.