Human Resource Management Methods

profilerebdeow24
valueofscientificmanagement.pdf

55

teaching present-day employees the value of scientific management Reginald L. Bell, Ph.D.

R e m n a n t s o f s c i e n t i f i cmanagement endure even t h o u g h F r e d e r i c k W i n s l o w Taylor’s essay was first published in 1911. In many contemporar y p r o f i t s e e k i n g o r g a n i z a t i o n s a healthy bottom line depends on employees’ being machine-like in certain aspects of the jobs they do; efficiency is directly related to profitability. Unfortunately, not ever y manager understands the v a l u e o f t i m e a n d m o t i o n i n relation to what their employees are doing. In this article, I show m a n a g e r s h o w t o t e a c h t h e i r present-day employees the value of scientific management.

The Legacy of Scientific Management

Pioneering business philosopher Frederick Winslow Taylor began t h i n k i n g a b o u t a n d , m o r e i m p o r t a n t l y , w r i t i n g d o w n h i s observations of people working in e a r l y t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y o r g a n i z a t i o n s . S c i e n t i f i c management was a radically new idea in the early 1900s. Taylor’s essay The Principles of Scientific Management turned 100-years-old in 2011. Fragments of Taylor’s ideas s u r v i v e d e s p i t e s c r u t i ny b y examination and remain relevant to e ver y d ay b u s i n e s s o p e r a t i o n s . Taylor, in an edition published by

D ove r P u b l i c a t i o n s i n 19 9 8 , argues that:

“We can see and feel the waste of material things. Awkward, inefficient, or ill-directed movements of men, h o wever, l e ave n ot h i n g v i s i b l e o r t a n g i b l e b e h i n d t h e m . T h e i r a p p r e c i a t i o n c a l l s f o r a n a c t o f memory, an effort of the imagination. And for this reason, even though our daily loss from this source is greater than from our waste of material things, the one has stirred us deeply, while the other has moved us but little.”

6

In Taylor’s era labor did not t r u s t m a n a g e m e n t a n d management did not trust labor. Despite this drawback, Taylor’s keen obser vations on the time and motions it took for workers to do an operation, his analysis of work related materials they used, i.e., optimizing the heads o f s h o v e l s , l a b o r s ’ w o r k sequences, and his advocacy for d i v i s i o n o f l a b o r, c l e a r l y b e n e f i t t e d , a n d c o n t i n u e s t o b e n e f i t , e m p l o y e r s a n d employees. Taylor recorded his observations and was the first to begin writing down more efficient w a y s t o d o o p e r a t i o n s ; h e f o r m a l i z e d a p r o c e s s f o r recording the time and motion i t t o o k t o p e r f o r m j o b s . J o b analysis and design has its roots in scientific management and is now a common human resources practice in most of the world’s largest corporations. For example, when I was a college undergraduate in 1985, I worked for a Wendy’s restaurant. The “crew” was trained to use a prescribed method of applying mustard, mayo, and ketchup to a hamburger with a square patty— mustard directly on meat patty, mayo always on top bun and ketchup always over mayo with veggies on top. This procedure w a s t a k e n s o s e r i o u s l y b y m a n a g e m e n t t h a t w h e n employees were caught violating t h e p r o c e d u r e t h e y w e r e immediately reprimanded; repeat offenders were often shown the door. The Wendy’s managers believed that where sauces were

placed on the hamburger affected i t s t a s t e ! To t h e m , “ Ta s t e i s directly related to sales!” Scientific management is present w h e n w o r k e r s a s s e m b l e a McDonald’s hamburger, when food is ser ved to hungr y Sonic Restaurant customers by teenagers wearing roller skates or when a technical support representative answers a call in a large call center t o r e s o l v e a p r o b l e m f r o m a business customer. The legacy of scientific management is found wherever machine-like precision in a n o p e r a t i o n i s r e q u i r e d t o improve profitability. Employees do not automatically understand w h y b e i n g e f f i c i e n t w h i l e m a i n t a i n i n g q u a l i t y l e a d s t o greater profits. And in many cases neither does their bosses.

Scientific Management to Secure Prosperity

Taylor was of the frame of mind that the “principle objective of m a n a g e m e n t ” i s t o s e c u r e prosperity for both the employer and the employee. He believed that his scientific approach would e n a b l e b o t h e m p l o y e r a n d e m p l o y e e t o m a x i m i z e t h e i r p r o s p e r i t y , c o n t r i b u t i n g t o g r e a t e r s u r p l u s f o r t h e o r g a n i z a t i o n . H ow e ve r, t h e notion owners would share their surpluses with labor was the most distrusted part of his scientific management principles. Andrea Gabor in her book The C a p i t a l i s t P h i l o s o p h e r s : T h e Geniuses of Modern Business - Their Lives, Times, and Ideas offers a riveting short biography

of Taylor’s life and work. Gabor ( 2 0 0 0 ) r e f e r s t o d e t r a c t o r s ’ backlash against Taylor’s principles a s “ Tay l o r i s m ” w h i c h s h e a t t r i b u t e s a s o n e o f t h e m a i n c a t a l y s t s s p a r k i n g t h e l a b o r m o v e m e n t i n A m e r i c a n manufacturing. When emotions were at their peak, Taylor needed armed security to escort him to and from work; labor believed Tay l o r ’ s p r i n c i p l e s wo u l d c o s t t h e m j o b s a n d d e s t r o y t h e i r livelihoods. Soldiering was a way l a b o r c o u l d r e d u c e o u t p u t , collectively, and thwart Taylor’s methods. N e v e r t h e l e s s , s o m e o f t h e managerial problems then still r e m a i n . M a n y m a n a g e r s d o n ’ t k n o w h o w t o t e a c h t h e i r e m p l o y e e s t h e v a l u e o f d o i n g specific operations with machine- like precision. Most minimally- s k i l l e d e m p l o y e e s w i l l n o t b e thinking about their time and motion in relation to the bottom line unless they are taught. The best way to demonstrate how to teach present-day employees to value scientific management is to p r e s e n t t h e c a s e o f L o n e l y Burgers—a fast-food restaurant franchise whose sales are down.

The Case of Lonely Burgers Restaurant

Mr. Leroy Williams is the owner o f a h a m b u r g e r r e s t a u r a n t franchise. His restaurant is one of 1,000 stores nationally. The total average gross revenue per franchise store is $1.5 million annually. Burgers account for two-thirds of gross sales and breakfast, desserts, and beverages account for the rest.

7

Leroy’s store is less than average in sales; he just cannot figure out why his sales are slightly under $1.0 million and not $1.5 million, as compared to the other stores in his zip code with similar size and locations. Leroy attended Lonely Burger University and believes he s y s t e m a t i c a l l y f o l l o w s a l l t h e guidelines and rules the franchisor suggested. Nonetheless, his annual sales are hurting. He decided to hire a sales consultant known for her good work in the industry. Ms. Jennifer George comes highly recommended by the president of High Time Restaurants, Inc., the parent company. For the first three days all Jennifer does is watch the line workers assemble burgers and takes notes. She is there for all three shifts because the restaurant i s o p e n f r o m 6 : 0 0 a . m . u n t i l 11:00 p.m. She carefully listens to employees working the drive thru window to gauge that aspect of t h e i r b e h a v i o r s . O n d ay f o u r, J e n n i f e r t e l l s L e r o y s h e h a s completed her work and would like to have a sit-down to discuss her findings. Jennifer is not cheap! In fact, the $20,000 fee for four days work Leroy hopes is worth it. Jennifer tells Leroy she has very good news; she says, “I believe I know what the problem is and, m o r e i m p o r t a n t , I h a v e a solution.” She continues, “ The main problem is your workers are unsystematic in how they engage customers in up-selling when they complete an order.” Leroy replies: “Oh, really?” Jennifer then says, “Yes. What you probably did not do is to

c a l c u l a t e t h e t r u e c o s t o f t h e inconsistency in your workers’ habits in not up-selling to each customer every time—I mean, the t r u e c o s t i s n o t o n l y y o u a r e missing a potential new sale but g u e s t s w i l l b e l e a v i n g t h e restaurant with your profits still in their pockets.” Leroy asks Jennifer, “How much am I losing, by your estimate?” J e n n i f e r r e p l i e s , “ I e s t i m a t e a p p r o x i m a t e l y $ 3 6 5 , 0 0 0 , conservatively speaking!” Lacking feeling in his head by the news, Leroy asks, “How! And, Why?” Jennifer provides a convenient example to Leroy by saying: “The p r o b l e m i s y o u r e m p l o y e e s ’ processing food orders do not follow the Lonely Burgers policy. THEY ARE NOT ATTEMPTING TO UP-SALE EACH TIME AND E V E RY T I M E T H E Y COMPLETE AN ORDER. Each time this policy is violated it must be construed as a lost sale! What’s worse, your employees don’t seem to understand why up-selling is crucial when they complete an order. Because your employees are i n c o n s i s t e n t w i t h o f f e r i n g additional items when closing the sale, your sales are down by as m u c h a s $ 3 6 5 , 0 0 0 . W h e n I m u l t i p l y 3 6 5 d a y s , t i m e s 5 0 0 burgers per day, times an average of $5.00 per burger, I get gross revenue of $912,500 annually, just for burgers. What’s more, when I calculate minus $2.00 each time an employee fails to make an up- sale attempt I calculate $365,000 i n h u n d r e d s o f l o s t s a l e s opportunities!

Leroy exclaims, loudly, “What can I do?” Jennifer tells him, “ Train and retrain your employees so they will u n d e r s t a n d t h e i m p o r t a n c e o f offering additional products to paying customers each time they close a sale. This is for the drive thru as well as for the cashiers t a k i n g o r d e r s f r o m d i n e - i n c u s t o m e r s . G e t r i d o f r e p e a t offenders who don’t seem to care a b o u t t h e p o l i c y . T h e b i g g e s t problem is your entire staff lacks a machine-like precision in taking o rd e r s t h i s w ay. Yo u l a c k a scientific management approach in c r e a t i n g i n c e n t i v e s t h a t w o u l d assure your employees adhere to the Lonely Burgers up-sale policy, even when you are not in the restaurant, every time they complete an order t h e y s h o u l d b e u p - s e l l i n g . O t h e r w i s e , e mp l o ye e s t a k i n g orders are allowing customers to l e a v e t h e r e s t a u r a n t w i t h y o u r profits still in their pockets.” W i t h i n s i x m o n t h s , L o n e l y Burgers’ annual sales were projected to be on par with the national aver a g e o f $ 1. 5 m i l l i o n . T h e conversation between Leroy and J e n n i f e r s h o w s t h a t s c i e n t i f i c management was a very important solution for one aspect of the job L o n e l y B u r g e r e m p l o y e e s d o . Shown in Figure 1 is what can occur when employees’ attempt to up-sale each time, using a scientific m a n a g e m e n t a p p r o a c h : b e i n g machine-like in following a ver y simple sales policy lead to greater profits. However, when employees were unsystematic there were fewer profits and less prosperity for all.

8

Bags of money were literally being lost. The Lonely Burger employees did not understand the level of profits linked to their behaviors until they were taught to value these principles.

Concluding Remarks Even though Taylor’s views are somewhat dated, there is evidence t h a t t e a c h i n g e m p l o y e e s t o b e machine-like in some aspects of t h e i r j o b s i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h i m p r o v e d p r o f i t s . T h i s i s t h e r e a s o n r e m n a n t s o f s c i e n t i f i c management endure. Scientific management was a radically new i d e a i n t h e e a r l y 19 0 0 s . E ve n t h o u g h s h i f t s i n m a n a g e m e n t p e r s p e c t i v e s m a d e “ m a n a s m a c h i n e ” s o m e w h a t o b s o l e t e , present-day employees still need to adhere to a few of the principles of scientific management in their daily operations. When Leroy’s employees’ began taking orders with a machine-like dedication to following the up-sales policy sales dramatically improved. L e r o y u s e d a p o r t i o n o f t h e a d d i t i o n a l p r o f i t s ( s h a r i n g t h e surplus) to devise special incentives for employees’ adhering to the up- s a l e s p o l i c y w i t h m a c h i n e - l i k e p r e c i s i o n . F u r t h e r m o r e , t h e s e incentives lead to more prosperity for the employer and employees. These basic elements of scientific m a n a g e m e n t h a v e p r o v i d e d solutions to business problems for 100 years and will likely endure for another 100 years, or more.

R e g i n a l d L . B e l l i s a t e n u r e d associate professor in the college of business at Prairie View A&M University. Bell received his Ph.D. in Business Education from the U n i v e r s i t y o f M i s s o u r i a t Columbia. He is an active member of the Association for Business Communication, and serves on its Publications Board. Bell has more than four dozen articles published in peer reviewed journals. His r e s e a r c h h a s a p p e a r e d i n t h e B u s i n e s s C o m m u n i c a t i o n Quarterly, Journal of Business and Leadership: Research, Practice and Te a c h i n g , J o u r n a l o f C o l l e g e Teaching and Learning, Academy o f E d u c a t i o n a l L e a d e r s h i p Journal, Academy of Marketing S t u d i e s J o u r n a l , S u p e r v i s i o n Magazine, Southwestern Business Administration Journal, and the J o u r n a l o f L e a d e r s h i p , Accountability, and Ethics. Bell, along with Jeanette S. Martin, is c o a u t h o r o f “ M a n a g e r i a l Communication,” a graduate level t e x t b o o k b y Pe a r s o n H i g h e r Education, with an “in stock” date scheduled for January, 2013.

SV

Copyright of Supervision is the property of National Research Bureau and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.