Theories of Frederick Taylor Made Simple

Not many basic management books give a proper idea about Frederick Taylor's scientific management. They usually paraphrase his principles without giving much thought to details.

It is not that they are fully eluded. The problem is in dull wordings. Let's cut through them to learn what truly is in his scientific management. His biggest disappointment was inefficiency at work.

He believed scientific management principles could solve it. He was able to acquire them only after careful experiment and observation.

His findings can be found in his book The Principles of Scientific Management. He tried promoting his ideas, but his arrogance and temper did not allow people to agree with them. Actually the ideas became popular because of other intellectuals. They gave birth to what is known as Taylorism.

Father of Scientific Management

What is Scientific Management?

According to Taylor, it is the idea of being sure of what the workers are supposed to do. And when they do it, the manager must make sure that their methods are best as well as cheapest.

4 Principles of Scientific Management

Taylor observed that there was a huge gap between the managers and workers. In fact, workers were allowed to find their own way of doing work. This turned out be a benefit for them in the sense that they intentionally worked slower to make sure that the work was never completed. This way they kept their positions intact. Meanwhile, the managers did not care as to how much each worker was to perform. If there was a a requirement to change parts of the performance, they relied on the history of their prior production results. This was called rule of thumb method. He also noticed that the workers were using same shovels for multiple tasks. This method was inefficient. To handle something bigger, a bigger shovel was needed. The smaller version was not made to carry anything heavy. Yet the workers used them because neither them nor the managers thought they were hindrance to productivity.
Small shovel cannot carry something huge. This kind of simple element was ignored by early managers.
Taylor's principles of scientific management sought to replace them for the purpose of achieving efficiency in production. They are as follows:

1. Development of  management science:  This emphasizes the importance of studying the job of each worker. Effort is to be made in acquiring knowledge on every aspect of a worker's job so that management could manage their work effectively.

2. Selecting and training workers through scientific methods: This is linked to learning the abilities of each worker. Additionally, the managers are to study the performance of the worker to find his strengths and weaknesses. His strength should be rewarded through training and advancement of opportunities.

3. Good relationship between the management and workers: In other words, managers and workers should cooperate with one another. They must work as a team.

4. Fair and equal division of work between management and workers: This means that managers will scientifically find out how a job must be done and workers are to follow their instructions.

Time and Motion Study is the Way to Go

Back in Taylor's time, there were no management books on efficient production. But he had to come up with a way to show how his scientific management was to put to work. His engineer mind came up with what is known as time and motion study. This is how it goes:
  • Workers are to be given all the right tools and work environment.
  • The major work is to be examined and broken down into small parts by the management.
  • When the work begins management inspects is to find its weak and efficient movements. The weak ones are then to be dropped to boost performance of the workers.
  • Next is to find the fastest, yet efficient way of doing the work. For this, the management will use a stopwatch and observes the workers at work.In this situation, the physical movements are to be given priority. They must be inspected to find the appropriate motions. Also when the work is going on, workers are not to be allowed to take a sudden break. In brief, they must carry on working.
  • The basic movements found from the observation are to be then arranged in right order and put in a category with emphasis on how much time it takes to do the work.
  • Management is to make a report on all the efficient steps of the work, tagging them as instructions and performance standard that all workers are to follow. According to Taylor, this report should be also used in training new workers.

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