Prior to 1900, there was no systematic way of managing work. Management was highly individualistic, adhoc, autocratic and not at all standardized. The classical era, to which the scientific management belongs, marked the first attempt at developing and documenting guidelines to help managers move away from this approach.
FW Taylor is regarded as the father of scientific management. To discover better ways of management, he conducted a wide variety of experiments most of which involved time and motion studies.
Taylor wanted to:
(i) Know how long it should take a worker or a machine to perform a given task.
(ii) Develop uniform standards of work.
(iii) Find a method of matching workers to jobs
(iv) Learn better ways to supervise and motivate personnel.
Taylor’s main contributions:
• Determining one best way of performing tasks: managers should study work scientifically and determine one best way of performing the ob using Time and Motion Studies. This measures all tasks movements made by a worker and eliminates those that do not lead to activity.
• Scientific method of selecting personnel: workers must be scientifically selected and trained so that they can be more productive on their jobs. Taylor knew some workers were more suited to a job than others.
• Financial incentives: workers should be given financial motivation to increase production efficiency. At that time, the most common type of wages were hourly rates. Taylor felt that motivation would be enhanced by piece-rate, a financial rate whereby workers would be paid according to what they produce other than the number of hours worked.
• Functional foremanship: Taylor advocated that responsibility be divided between managers and worker. Managers should plan, direct and control the work process while workers should be responsible for performing actual tasks.
• Each task must be scientifically designed so that it can replace the old ‘Rule of thumb’ method.
• Encourage friendly interaction between management and employees but a clear separation of duties remain.
Taylor however faces the following criticisms
• He assumed workers are primarily motivated by money.
• He regarded an organization as a machine and workers as part of it.
• He failed to consider informal relationships in organizations characterized by social activities, rise of informal group leaders e.t.c.
• He relied too much on his own experience and it is dangerous to generalize from just one experience. Current organizations are faced with rapid change and competition.
Henry L Gantt:
Gantt is one of the leading contributors to the scientific management theory.
He believed that the piece rate system developed by Taylor was not having the desired level of impact and focused his attention on techniques that would further motivate workers.
His main contributions are:
(i) Bonus: He developed the idea of bonus wage system. Production goals were set for workers and if the worker achieved the goals, a bonus in addition to the day’s wage was provided. The bonus was extended to the manager in charge of the subordinate.
(ii) Gantt Chart: This is a technique which shows on a graph, the scheduling of work to be done during any given period e.g. a chart might show which machine will be used or has been used for various tasks over time. The chart is especially used today in many organizations especially manufacturing firms for production control and scheduling.
A team of husband and wife, Frank and Lilian Gilbreths.
Lilian focused on ways of promoting the welfare of the individual worker. To her, the ultimate aim of scientific management was to help the workers reach their full potential as human beings.
Frank studied motion and fatigue. He found out that for every motion that was eliminated, fatigue was reduced.
a) Three position plan of promotion: This was intended to serve as an employee morale booster and also for development. According to the plan, the worker carried out his present job, prepared for the next higher one and trained his successor, all at the same time. Thus the worker is always a doer, learner and teacher.
b) Job rotation: Employees can be developed though rotating them in various tasks to improve performance.
c) Training and development of workers: This will improve worker productivity.