When the world moved to the industrial revolution there arose a process called soldering.
And it was both intentional and unconscious!
Soldering happens when workers slow the operations. During the industrial era, factory workers tried to intentionally reduce their productivity by not achieving their target and sending out a message that this is all they can do.
But there were times this slowing of operations was unconscious. As most factory workers were new and only getting used to the large machinery it slowed their performance.
It is at this stage that Frederick W Taylor tried to resolve the situation with his Theory of Scientific Management.
Scroll down to know how the theory resolves the productivity question.
What is Scientific Management Theory
As a perfectionist, Taylor was not happy with the low performance of the factory workers and thought about what improvements can be brought when the right tool is given to the right employee.
That is how he formulated the Scientific Management Theory or the movement later came to be known as Taylorism
Scientific management is the application of science in management to increase workplace efficiency and staff productivity. By science, we mean using analysis and measurement in the workplace.
Taylor is honored as the Father of Scientific Management as he was one of the initial people who campaigned for adopting science-backed ways to manage people effectively.
Scientific Management research has shown critical approaches to improving workplace culture including improved communication between employees and employers.
The four Principles of Scientific Management Theory include:
Science, not the rule-of-thumb technique!
The rule of thumb is when something is done according to practical experience rather than theoretical backing. Taylor was of the opinion however small a job it must be done based on scientific knowledge to save human time and energy.
Harmony, Not Discord
This idea states that the work environment should cultivate harmony between the employee and the employer. Taylor encouraged good interactions that would establish better understanding causing fewer disagreements and more efficiency.
Cooperation, Not Individualism
A principle that is an extension of the Harmony, Not Discord principle, here, Taylor stated that both management and workers must understand their mutual obligations. They must work with cooperation and strive to refrain from unnecessary competition.
Development of workers to their greatest efficiency and prosperity
Taylor encouraged the practice of a scientific approach in the selection of employees. Following such a method helps them understand their physical and mental capabilities thereby providing them the required training to enhance efficiency.
Hence, scientifically approaching work opens a lot of possibilities for the efficiency that the employee and the workspace can achieve.
Let's see what these are.
Scientific Management in the Workplace
Scientific management as the name suggests is the application of science in the management of organizations. In his study, Taylor was mainly focusing on workers and ways to improve their efficiency.
Here are some of the contributions of scientific management theory in the workspace.
- He brought an intense study as to how workers’ productivity can be improved. He studied work in terms of time and motion.
- Time study records and analyzes the time taken to perform any particular task.
- Motion study observes the motion of the employee and machinery to understand and improve efficiency.
- It formulates a scientific selection of employees where the physical skills and mental capabilities are considered to hire the most suitable candidate.
- Scientific management also draws a scientific approach to designing tools and equipment to improve the rate of work done using them.
- The scientific management approach also lays the path to creating a good relationship between the management and the workers and encourages cooperation and collaboration.
- It calls for a mental revolution where both the employees and management change their thought processes about work and work culture to bring about better understanding and collaboration among them for mutual benefit.
With many practical applications in the workspace, the theory opens a lot of advantages in business operations. Let's see what they are.
Advantages of Scientific Management
- Improved Efficiency
The crux of the scientific management theory is the application of science in improving the efficiency of the workers. A standardization of doing things will help workers to understand the best practices that will get the work done in optimal time.
- Quantify Productivity
The greatest revolution of Taylor’s work was that he tried to quantify performance and productivity. For example, by applying the piece rate basis he suggested that the number of work done must be paid rather than the time spent. An employee finishing 10 shirts per day must determine their income than the time they took to finish those 10 shirts.
- Trained Workforce
Taylor was of the opinion that the workforce must be trained in their work than be left on their own to understand what to do. A trained workforce will be fast and efficient in their work as they have a clear idea of what has to be done.
- Healthy Workspace
Scientific management encourages better communication between the employee and the employer. Such healthy practices make the workspace better where the management has clarity on the needs of the employees and the employees know how their contribution matters in the business operations.
- Utilization of Resources
A scientific and standardized way of doing work ensures optimal utilization of resources with minimal wastage. Scientific management lays the path to such an operation in the workspace thereby ensuring optimal results.
But before adopting such a scientifically driven theory into operations, organizations must realize the drawbacks it causes as well.
Disadvantages of Scientific Management
- Inadequate attention to the human
Scientific management has an extra focus on productivity that it sometimes loses sight of the human factor. For example, by quantifying productivity it falls short in understanding the human factor and puts everyone in a common mold. It does not see each human being as unique and different and emphasizes a standard way of getting things done.
- Only One Best Way Of Getting Work Done
When management focuses solely on the best way of getting work done through management by objectives, it misses the creative and alternative approaches by which the work can be accomplished. Each worker, as an individual, perceives work and the factors around it differently. Expecting all workers to approach the work similarly and anticipating uniform results removes the enjoyable aspect of the job, rendering it dull and repetitive.
- Discourage Initiative
When all employees are expected to work in a standard way following uniform rhythm and movement, it eventually discourages workers from initiating any new or creative input. This passive involvement makes the job dull and monotonous, only leading to a decrease in interest and performance.
- Impair Higher Intellectual Life
When employees are always told what to do and encouraged to follow a standard scientific way of doing things, it puts their creative and intellectual approach to work at stake. It is the personal touch that workers bring to the work that makes the job at hand interesting and fun for them.
Despite the drawbacks, the birth of the Scientific Management Theory was a necessity of the times. When the work culture was moving from a small-scale business to mechanized factory jobs, a system had to come that would help both the employer and employee traverse through the new workplace.
Irrespective of industries, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals or retail, Taylor’s scientific management remains the foundation of all later productivity enhancement techniques. As the world moved from the mechanical to the digital world, quantifying performance has also taken a huge leap.
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