Thursday, February 5, 2009

option 1- Bacon

The main idea behind Scientific Management is to provide maximum prosperity for the employer and maximum prosperity for the employee and that maximum prosperity stems from maximum productivity. The most critical component needed to make this method work is for the employer to be working with his employees, in-so-far-as he is making sure they are doing their work correctly and making sure they are enjoying and driven to do their work.

Being in the military, Air Force ROTC, I am constantly under the wings of scientific management. Indeed, while training for a commission a cadet is being subliminally taught the scientific method all four years of his stay at college. One particular passage that caught my eye was, "Under the management of 'initiative and incentive' practically the whole problem is 'up to the workman,' while under scientific management fully one-half of the problem is 'up to the management,'" (29). The relationship between employer and employee ought to be symbiotic.

In the first two years of ROTC we are taught to do our job so that our boss looks good (in his boss' eyes). This doesn't mean that we want to put on a front, just giving the appearance that the boss looks good. Rather, it means that we should be doing our work so effectively and without reluctance that the only possible result is that the boss looks good, like he's doing his job well. In the latter two years of ROTC we are taught more about the boss' side of things. We should be making sure that our employees are doing their job correctly and that they are doing it in the most efficient way possible. Not only that, but we need to be concerned about their morale (something often neglected in large industries). One of the best ways to make sure that your employees are motivated is to make sure that they are enjoying their job. If the employee enjoys his job he will be more likely to want to do it and do it well, and therefore productivity is increased. The boss needs to do his best to give his employee a job that he not only enjoys and is qualified for, but also a job that wont disrupt the needs of the Air Force. In this way the employer/boss is making the employee as comfortable as he can be without detracting from the quality and quantity of the work.

Now, as an example, a captain is in charge of, say, 20 enlisted personnel. A lieutenant colonel is in charge of said captain. From the colonel's perspective, if the enlisted personnel aren't performing their jobs well or efficiently, or if they aren't enjoying their work at all, then the colonel will put the blame on the captain saying that the captain isn't doing his job well because "one half of the problem is up to the management". Poor performance from the enlisted personnel is equally a reflection of the captain's poor performance.

In a few years I will get to fill out my 'Dream Sheet'. I get to put down my preference for my job and my top three preferences for where I'll be stationed in the US or somewhere in the world. The Air Force wants to make sure I'll be happy with my job and location but they will assign me according to its current needs. After I get assigned instead of immediately going off to work, I will first go somewhere else to receive specific training for my job so that I can do my job in the most efficient manner, then I will go to my assigned job.

The long and short of it is that if employees fail their employer, the company fails. And if the employer fails his employees, the company will probably fail, or at least not perform at its best. A company will be most productive when the employer has both his and his employees' prosperity in mind.

2 comments:

Nathaniel Bacon said...

The main idea behind Scientific Management is to provide maximum prosperity for the employer and maximum prosperity for the employee and said maximum prosperity stems from maximum productivity. The most critical component needed to make this method work is for the employer to be working with his employees (and to some extent, for his employees), in-so-far-as he is making sure they are doing their work correctly and making sure they are enjoying and driven to do their work.

Being in the military, Air Force ROTC, I am constantly under the wings of scientific management. Indeed, while training for a commission, a cadet is being subliminally taught the scientific method all four years of his stay at college. One particular passage of The Principles of Scientific Management that caught my eye was, "Under the management of 'initiative and incentive' practically the whole problem is 'up to the workman,' while under scientific management fully one-half of the problem is 'up to the management,'" (29). The relationship between employer and employee ought to be symbiotic. But only the employer, or boss, can make this happen.

In the first two years of ROTC we are taught to do our job so that our boss looks good (in his boss' eyes). This doesn't mean that we want to put on a front, just giving the appearance that the boss looks good. Rather, it means that we should be doing our work so effectively and without reluctance that the only possible result is that the boss looks good, like he's doing his job well. In the latter two years of ROTC we are taught more about the boss' side of things. We should be making sure that our employees are doing their job correctly and that they are doing it in the most efficient way possible. Not only that, but we need to be concerned about their morale (something often neglected in large industries). One of the best ways to make sure that your employees are motivated is to make sure that they are enjoying their job. If the employee enjoys his job he will be more likely to want to do it and do it well, and therefore productivity is increased. The boss needs to do his best to give his employee a job that he enjoys and is qualified for, but he also needs to give him a job that won’t disrupt the needs of the Air Force. In this way the employer/boss is making the employee as comfortable as he can be without detracting from the quality and quantity of the work.

Now, as an example, a captain is in charge of, say, 20 enlisted personnel. A lieutenant colonel is in charge of said captain. From the colonel's perspective, if the enlisted personnel aren't performing their jobs well or efficiently, or if they aren't enjoying their work at all, then the colonel will put the blame on the captain saying that the captain isn't doing his job well because "one half of the problem is up to the management". Poor performance from the enlisted personnel is equally a reflection of the captain's poor performance as it is a reflection on themselves. In order to ensure maximum (and quality) production, an employer must do his best to make sure that his employees are trained for their job and enjoying it. If he does not, then maximum production, and thus prosperity, is but a dream.

In a few years I will get to fill out my 'Dream Sheet'. I get to put down my preference for my job and my top three preferences for where I'll be stationed in the US or somewhere else in the world. The Air Force wants to make sure I'll be happy with my job and location but in the end they will assign me according to its current needs whilst trying to accommodate my own needs the best they can. After I get assigned, instead of immediately going off to work, I will first go somewhere else to receive specific training for my job so that I can do my job in the most efficient manner, then I will go to my assigned job.

The long and short of it is that if employees fail their employer, the company fails. And if the employer fails his employees, the company will probably fail, or at least not perform at its best. A company will be most productive when the employer has both his and his employees' prosperity in mind.

Adam Johns said...

Your introduction worries me. There's no indication of your argument or point of view, and while it's not that you're wrong about any of this (you more or less accurately summarize things that Taylor says) its unclear why you're focusing on these particular details.

Your second paragraph is another introduction. There's too much introductory material here, but the second one is better, at least.

Through the rest of the paper, you give an interesting (if somewhat vague - no actual personal details, no narrative) account of management in the air force. This is reasonably interesting, but the connection to Taylor is tenuous at best; for one thing, you're talking mostly about the relationship of low-ranking to higher-rankking officers -- that is *not* the same thing as the relationship between conventional management and casual labor (hiring and firing, after all, is a rather involved and specialized process in the military).

So, there are two overall issues here.
1) You aren't really making an argument about Taylorism and the military; you are connecting one small element of Taylorism, removed from its context, to the military.
2) There's no narrative here - no sense of what your experience of military, Tayloresque (at least according to you) management is like.

To view this paper as being successful, I would have liked to see at least a strong narrative or a strong, detailed response to Taylor - ideally both.