F. W. Taylor’s Scientific Management Theory in Modern Day Workplace

Management can have the most remarkable effects on organization; that is why management has become an essential part of organization. According to Griffin (2001) Management may be defined as a set of activities (including planning, and decision making, organizing, leading and controlling) with the aim of achieving organizational goals in an efficient and effective manner. Management can also be defined as the process of designing and maintaining an environment in which individuals, working together in groups, efficiently accomplish selected aims (Koontz and Weihrich 1990).

From the time human beings began forming social organizations to accomplish aims and objectives they could not accomplish as individuals, managing has been essential to ensure the coordination of individual efforts. As society continuously relied on group effort, and as many organized groups have become large, the task of managers has been increasing in importance and complexity. Henceforth, management theory has become crucial in the way managers manage complex organizations. The first management theory is what is popularly referred to as Frederick Taylor’s Scientific Management (Stoner, Edward, Gilbert, 2003).

The central thesis of this paper is to discuss the relevance of Frederick Winslow Taylor’s Scientific Management Theory in the modern workplace. Frederick Taylor started the era of modern management. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, he was decrying the “awkward, inefficient, or ill-directed movements of men” as national loss.

Taylor consistently sought to overthrow management “by rule of thumb” and replace it with actual timed observations leading to “the one best” practice. He also advocated the systematic training of workers in “the one best practice” rather than allowing them personal discretion in their tasks. He further believed that the workload would be evenly shared between the workers and management with management performing the science and instruction and the workers performing the labor, each group doing “the work for which it was best suited” (Koontz 1990).

Taylor’s Scientific Management is not hard to recognize within the modern day workplace. The car and computer manufacturing plants, the work environments we go to everyday, the hospitals we are treated in and even some of the restaurants we might eat in, – almost all of them function more efficiently due to the application of Scientific Management. In fact, these methods of working seem so commonplace and so logical to a citizen of the modern world that it is almost impossible to accept that they were revolutionary only 100 years ago.

Taylor’s Scientific Management is based on four principles. According to Mindtool the four principles are as follows:

1. Replace working by “rule of thumb,” or simple habit and common sense, and instead use the scientific method to study work and determine the most efficient way to perform specific tasks.

2. Rather than simply assign workers to just any job, match workers to their jobs based on capability and motivation, and train them to work at maximum efficiency.

3. Monitor worker performance, and provide instructions and supervision to ensure that they’re using the most efficient ways of working.

4. Allocate the work between managers and workers so that the managers spend their time planning and training, allowing the workers to perform their tasks efficiently.

The first principle which is to replace “rule of thumb,” or simple habit and common sense, working methods with methods based on a scientific study of the tasks is still relevant in the modern workplace. Miller (2010), postulate that management first needs to break each job into individual tasks and determine which steps don’t contribute to the end product. While I was working for a small manufacturing company, management decided that our department was due for an overhaul to streamline the work process and increase production. Our main job each day was to fill 80-100 bins with various parts. We walked about 10 miles on average each day. So, management redesigned the layout of the warehouse racks to reduce our walking distance by about 66% and cut 2 hours from our work day”.

The second principle which basically stated that scientific selection of the worker of organization should be: select, train, teach and develop the most suitable person for each job scientifically, rather than passively leaving them to train themselves (Priestley 2005). The second principle of the Taylor’s Scientific Management can still be found in today’s world. In must organization mangers or senior employees are responsible for selecting the right people for each job and overseeing their training. This will ensures that the training is conducted correctly.

In majority of today’s workplaces after the workers and job processes are put in place, the managers of the company stay involved and provide supervision to each worker to ensure the job is done in the best way to suit the organization goal. This is very important. Just because a department is designed to be efficient does not prevent workers from falling back into bad work habits. The last principle of Taylor’s Scientific Management state that work should be divided between managers and workers. The mangers apply management principles to planning and supervising the work, and the workers carry out tasks. This theory has been utilize in most modern organization and has lead to an increase in production and also takes some of the pressure off the workforce, but allows managers to stay involved in the daily processes of the department (Miller, 2010).

Taylor also advanced a theory of motivation which is just the same as incentive theory – that is, the theory that workers are motivated by money. Hence, he advocated that productivity improvements should result in improved pay. Workers are paid according to the number of items they produce in a set period of time- piece-rate pay. As a result workers are encouraged to work hard and maximize their productivity (Priestley 2005). However this theory still exists in the modern workplace especially in factors and for truck drivers’. For example a sweet factor near to my house use this theory; employees’ get paid according to amount of sweet they can rap over a set period of time. Workers who are more efficient will always earn more money; however this will motivate or encouraged the inefficient worker to work harder.

According to Stoner (2003) Employers who pay workers more will get better, happier, more efficient workers who make better products in increasing quantity. But like most academic theory, reality never seems to behave as predicted on paper. If employers have more efficient workers, profit margins increase. Thus, according to Taylor, employers can pump some of this increased profit into worker’s paychecks in order to keep them happy and efficient.

In concluded Taylor proposed four great underlying principles of management. First, there is need to develop a ‘science of work’ to replace old rule-of-thumb methods: pay and other rewards linked to achievement of ‘optimum goals’ – measures of work performance and output; failure to achieve these would in contrast result in loss of earnings.

Second, workers to be ‘scientifically’ selected and developed: training each to be ‘first-class’ at some specific task. Three, the ‘science of work’ to be brought together with scientifically selected and trained people to achieve the best results. Finally, work and responsibility to be divided equally between workers and management cooperating together in close interdependence. However Taylor’s Scientific Management theories which have develop over a century is still relevant and found within the modern workplaces.

References

Koontz H. & Weihrich H. (1990). Essentials of management (5thed). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Miller, B. (2010). Frederick Winslow Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management – Still Valid in Today’s Workplace? Retrieved from, http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2913674/frederick_winslow_taylors_principles_pg3.html?cat=3.

Mindtool (n.d.). Frederick Taylor and scientific management. Retrieved from, http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_Taylor.htm

Priestley S. (2005). Scientific Management in 21st Century. Retrieved from, http://www.articlecity.com/articles/business_and_finance/article_4161.shtml.

Stoner J. A., Edward F. R., Gilbert, D. R. (2003). Management (6th ed). New Delhi: Prentice-Hall of India.

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