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Scientific Management Essay

Scientific Management was a new form of management that evolved in the late 1800’s that was based on a number of principles that analyzed the activities of individuals, which in turn, optimized efficiency and productivity. In this essay I will discuss the major advances that were pioneered by Frederick Winslow Taylor, Henry Gantt and Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. Frederick Winslow Taylor was thought of as the most influential business guru of the twentieth century. 154) Taylor was a well -educated man that started his work as a laborer and quickly moved up to a chief engineer at Midvale Steel Company.

Through his various positions and experience within this company he discovered many problems that were apparent between management and laborer. His first attempt in his creation of Scientific Management was to combat a process called “soldiering”. Taylor observed how the process of soldering led to low production because workers had intentionally worked slow, while making management believe they were working faster.

Taylor identified two types of soldiering that workers practiced: natural and systematic. Natural soldiering was referred to as the “the natural instinct and tendency of men to take it easy. ” Managers tried to overcome natural soldiering by forcing workers to be more productive. (123) Systematic soldiering was when workers all together would reason with one another to work slower. Taylor believed that workers systematically soldiered because of three main reasons. First, if workers completed their jobs faster, they believed they would be laid off.

Secondly, when workers were paid by piece rate, if their production increased, they believed management would cut the piece rate requiring them to do more work for the same amount of pay they were receiving at the time. Finally, workers were accustomed to old work habits that were handed down from generation to generation. (124) Taylor believed that systematic soldiering posed more concerns than natural soldering. He thought that the problems arose because of management’s lack of responsibility to create proper jobs that offered good incentives.

Taylor knew that a new industrial system would need to be created to correct the problems that were evident with management and laborer. Time Studies Taylor set out to develop a new system in an attempt to overcome the process of soldiering. Taylor believed he could determine how each job could be accomplished most efficiently and then establish performance standards based on his findings. (125) The first step in his system was defined as time studies, which was the beginning of Scientific Management.

Taylor believed that he could overcome soldiering by determining what workers ought to be able to achieve with equipment and materials by scientifically setting performance standards. According to the authors of The Evolution of Management Thought “Taylor used a stop watch, weight scale and tape to literally measure the distances that workers and materials traveled. ” (125) From his findings, Taylor discovered that workers used too much effort and materials to accomplish their tasks and believed this was mainly due to improper management.

Taylor classified his time studies into two phases: analysis and synthesis. Analysis meant that each job was broken down into movements then the movement was described and recorded along with enough time allowed for unavoidable delays. Synthesis was all the movements in the correct sequence to determine the time and exact method for performing a job. (126)Taylor’s time studies created improvements in all elements that surround a job, careful examination of individuals at work led to a more efficient approach to perform tasks which ultimately reduced effort and increased production.

Improved Incentives Taylor noticed that the traditional incentives for workers were discouraged in more ways than one. Taylor believed that management needed to create new incentive rates. Profit sharing and the old ways of paying positions instead of men, seemed to be inefficient methods. Taylor devised a three part plan that improved incentives which consisted of using time studies to set standards and pay rates, a differential piecework system that paid employees a higher rate per piece if they finished their work faster than specified, and lastly, paying the men instead of paying the positions.

He believed that performance standards should be set before piece rates and rest period should be given more often to decrease fatique. Additionally, Taylor saw a need for a mutuality of interests between manager and worker and devised a system that would benefit both sides. The belief held by people was that higher wages led to higher costs. In turn, Taylor proved that higher wages would lead to lower costs and increased production with less effort. Employers didn’t have to pay low wages in order to gain momentum in the industry.

Taylor also believed that some people are better suited for a position based on their will and ambition; he referred to these people as “first class workers. ” Taylor urged that performance standards should be based on a first class workers pace and believed that management was responsible for identifying these types of workers. Throughout the years people assumed that production was increased by people working longer and harder, but the truth was, production increased if people worked smarter not harder. People used their resources more wisely and learned the most efficient way to complete a job.

Task Management System Taylor’s task management system utilized the time studies to dictate how long a task should take to be completed and used careful planning with detailed written instructions to assign tasks to workers. Taylor thought to motivate workers based on how long it took them to complete their job. The workers that finished their job in the allotted time received higher wages compared to those who did not. Management was aided in their tasks by a new term Taylor referred to as “functional foremanship”.

Taylor felt that managers should have certain qualities in order for them to be efficient supervisors which include special and technical knowledge, tact, brains, energy, common sense and good health. Taylor used this selection process to determine what tasks managers should perform. This new system of planned performance allowed each person to be in charge of a different responsibility. Managers skills were specialized which resulted in a decrease in time it took to recruit and hire people who may not be a good fit.

This system dramatically changed the way tasks were planned, before this time workplace layout determined how tasks were performed. Taylor went on to put his ideas into writing with a book called The Principles of Scientific Management. This book was a significant advance of the times and made Taylor a national hero in just twenty four hours. His findings that were released in this book, sparked much controversy, but ultimately gained popularity. His book was translated into many different languages just two years after the publication. (141) Taylor was credited for leading the world towards efficiency in more ways than one.

Henry Gantt There were many people who followed Taylor’s scientific approach to management thought. One of these followers that had contributed greatly to management thought was Henry Gantt. Gantt was a man that recognized the demands of the world and knew he could have a better chance at making it in life by becoming educated. He obtained a mechanical engineer degree and began his work at the Midvale Steel Company alongside of Frederick Taylor. After working with Taylor, Gantt turned out to be strongly influenced by his ideas about how to manage industry.

Gantt became one of Taylor’s leading disciples and moved on to create his own ways to improve management methods and make an industry more efficient. Like Taylor, Gantt knew that there was a need for a mutuality of interest between management and worker. Gantt believed that this theory started with the worker, he argued that the workingman was the most important element in management. (159) He urged that a successful atmosphere in industry was eminent when the employer has the best worker for the position and the worker believes his work is sold at the highest price.

Task and Bonus System As Gantt began to examine the managers and workers more closely, he devised a task and bonus system, which was similar to Taylor’s differential piece rate system. Gantt experimented with his ideas before he found the system that was the best solution. He would offer bonuses to workers that completed a task in less than standard time, he offered bonuses to first line supervisors based on each workers performance to complete their task in the allotted time and offered an additional bonus to supervisors if all the workers completed their task in the time limit.

He found that this system encouraged supervisors to become better leaders by teaching and helping workers to achieve maximum performance. This was an important concept that shifted management from forcing workers to meet standards to leading them in a cooperative manner. After a while, workers and management started to resist the work methods Gantt created. The workers went on strike and Gantt eventually had to find and train replacements. This occurrence led Gantt to believe that management owned the role of training workers more thoroughly.

In addition, Gantt added more training that used industriousness and cooperation, which he referred to as the “habits of industry”. According to the authors of The Evolution of Management Thought, “Gantt felt that as a result of doing their work promptly and to the best of their ability, workers would experience pride that comes from quality as well as quantity to work. ” (161) Gantt believed that the management and laborer would be benefitted equally; employee would be paid higher wages leading to lower costs and the employer would have a greater output of production. Gantt Progress Chart

As Gantt attempted to conquer the problems associated with management and laborer with the task and bonus system, he set out to devise a system to aid management in planning and coordinating workloads. After several attempts, Gantt pioneered a bar chart which was known to be the most valuable contribution to management of the generation. (163) The Gantt Progress Chart showed how work should be scheduled or directed through numerous operations, to completion. This chart allowed managers to distinguish whether a job was ahead or behind schedule, then management could take whatever means were necessary to correct the issue.

The Gantt chart became a widely used efficient tool to support management in decision making and helped ensure that resources were being used proficiently. The Gilbreth’s Frank and Lillian Gilbreth were also followers of Frederick Taylor’s Scientific Management principles. Frank had greatly contributed to management thought with his invention of the motion studies. Frank began his studies while working as a bricklayer. He started examining the bricklaying process and began to eliminate the steps or motions from 18 to 6. He saw that people could do twice as much work with less effort if the job was done the right way.

Frank looked to remove the motions that were unnecessary in jobs, in order to reduce fatigue and increase productivity. After his invention of the motion studies, he moved to focus his work on the construction business. He used the same methods to build homes, dams, factories, skyscrapers and even whole towns. (168) As Frank gained increasing popularity, his wife persuaded him to put his work into writing. His work consisted of three systems: the field, concrete and bricklaying system. The field system was mainly used in construction as an accounting system.

This system showed costs, costs in relation to estimates and the total costs of each specific job. In addition, Frank used a suggestion program that enabled workers to obtain extra money for their suggestions on how to improve a job. This would ultimately lead to better service for the customers and additional jobs in the future. (169) Under the concrete system, Frank used competition to motivate the workers. He held contests to see how fast workers could complete a job. Lastly, was the bricklaying system, he used this system to effectively train the workers.

He believed apprentices should learn the best way to do a job before standards are set. He believed the earlier methods of instruction from the experienced workers were inefficient and created too much waste. These systems showed how Frank rationalized work methods, improved productivity and ensured efficiency by motivating and correctly training workers by transferring their skills. As Frank started to expand his interests, he looked for better ways to identify inefficient motions. Frank came up with the brilliant idea to use a camera to examine the motions of workers.

He then would eliminate the waste based on the analysis. Frank and Lillian also filmed workers attached with small electrical lights; when their movement was slowest they would see a bunch of dots, while they would see sporadic dots when their movement was at a faster pace. The use of camera to observe the movements of workers seemed to be more useful and accurate than Taylor’s use of the stopwatch. As time went by, Frank and Lillian started to detach from Taylor’s methods. Lillian went on to focus her thoughts on “The Psychology of Management.

She studied the effects that work has on humans and held that successful management was determined by the man, not the work. While Lillian tried to determine the most effective and efficient approach to management, she had to compare the three styles that were created: traditional, transitory and scientific. Traditional management created anxiety by relying on rewards and punishment to motivate workers and essentially there was no mutuality of interest between management and worker. Transitory management was the short term style that was incomplete and ill directed before scientific management emerged.

Essentially, According to the authors of The Evolution of Management Thought, Lillian believed that scientific management was the best style because it “promoted regular work, encouraged good personal habits, and fostered the physical, mental, moral, and financial development of workers. (174) Lillian recognized the human factor in work which led her to pioneer human resource management. This creation of human resource management was a significant advance of the times that led industries to obtain the best workers for the positions at hand by the scientific selection, training and placement of the workers.

Frederick Taylor, Henry Gantt and Frank and Lillian Gilbreth contributed greatly to the scientific management movement. Close examination of management and workers led to new concepts that improved work methods and incentives, motivated workers, eliminated motions, reduced fatigue and increased production. All of these factors allowed for industries to become more efficient than ever before. Managers gained the proper tools and knowledge that enabled them to train, select and place workers where they were best suited. These concepts that were put into practice in the late 1800’s are still widely used today in the workplace.

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