Taylor's Principles of Scientific Management

Before we head straight into the techniques of scientific management, we should make an effort to find out about the fundamentals of scientific management in brief. 

Typically, scientific management can be considered as the art of delegation or as Fredrick Winslow Taylor stated: “Scientific management means knowing exactly what you want men to do and seeing that they do it in the best and the cheapest way.”

Such a concept is mostly concerned about using effective scientific techniques to recruit, select, and train labour. Additionally, the concept is equally responsible for finding suitable solutions to deal with different types of problems concerning a specific industry.

Fun Fact: The term ‘Scientific Management’ was coined in 1911 by Fredrick Winslow Taylor. He is acknowledged as the Founder of the Scientific Management Movement and formulated principles for effective work allocation. 

Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management 

These following are F.W Taylor’s fundamental principles of scientific management -

  1. To replace the ‘Rule of Thumb’ in work with the scientific method to analyse work and determine the best way to perform them efficiently.

  2. To delegate work based on workers’ capability and motivation. Additionally, to provide them with the required training to maximise their work efficiency.

  3. Allocation of work to both manager and workers, wherein, the managers would be entrusted with planning work schedules and training workers. 

  4. Assessment and supervision of workers’ performance. Also, providing them with suitable instructions to maximise their performance.

With that, let’s proceed to find out the techniques of scientific management by F.W Taylor and while at it let’s also check out related concepts. It will not only help to understand the concept better but will also enable us to gauge their practicality and efficiency in an organisational setup.

 In a broad sense, techniques of scientific management are as follows. 

  1. Functional foremanship

  2. Standardisation of work

  3. Simplification of work

  4. Work-study

  5. Differential piece of wage rates

  6. Mental Revolution

Read along to find all about techniques of scientific management by F.W Taylor!

What is Functional Foremanship?

Functional foremanship is essentially an administration system that is somewhat based on the principle – ‘Division of Labour’, to establish specialisation in an organisational setup. Typically, in a functional organisation, the available work is divided into different parts and are delegated to workers who are somewhat specialised in them. 

As per techniques of scientific management, FW Taylor had suggested that an organisation must be divided into sub-departments to enhance the quality and efficiency of both the planning and production department. 

In a broad sense, an organisation is divided into two sub-departments with four experts in each department –

  1. Planning department

  2. Production department

In a functional organisational setup, the planning department is headed by a planning manager. Other workers and their functions are as follows –

a) Route Clerk

This person is in charge of deciding a day’s work and is also responsible for ensuring the work sequence is maintained and completed properly.

b) Instruction Clerk

Instruction clerk is accountable for preparing instruction cards containing information pertaining to the kind of work, procedures to apply and equipment and raw materials to be used. Subsequently, the data compiled is handed to a gang boss.

c) Time and Cost Clerk

This clerk is mostly responsible for deciding the entire time-frame of the designated work. Also, the cost of producing a product is decided by them.

d) Discipline Officer

This officer ensures that delegated tasks are performed in a disciplined manner.

Now, let’s check out the components of a production department and their functions –

a) Gang Boss

He/she serves as the leader of a gang of workers. A gang boss is mostly responsible for ensuring that equipment and workers are suitable for producing the required units of products. Also, it is under his supervision to check if raw materials have been made available to workers.

b) Speed Boss

His/her primary task is to make sure that workers are on par with the work schedule. The speed boss is also responsible for identifying the reasons that tend to slow down work productivity and formulate suitable solutions to remedy them.

c) Repair Boss

He/she is responsible for keeping all equipment in good working condition and solves problems pertaining to that promptly.

d) Inspector

An inspector checks the quality of goods produced and compares them with the standard quality. Also, an inspector has the power to initiate corrective measures if there is a lag in quality. 

Test Your Knowledge: Which of these techniques violates the Unity of Command?

  1. Fatigue study

  2. simplification of work

  3. functional foremanship

  4. differential piece wage system

With that, let’s proceed to find out more about FW Taylor techniques of scientific management pertaining to standardisation and simplification of production. 

What is Standardisation and Simplification of Work? 

Standardisation and simplification of work can be looked at as a means to establish efficiency standards for every activity in an industrial setup. Elements like time, production manner, machinery, raw material, product and its processing can be standardised under this method. For instance, the number of products that need to be produced on a single day or the work that is expected from a worker. 

Here’s a brief overview of standardisation and simplification of work –

1. Standardisation of Work

a) Standardisation of Raw Material

It means that the materials used should be on par with the quality of finished products one intends to manufacture.  For instance, to produce AA+ quality of apparels 5+ quality of textile would be required. 

It can be said that for AA+ quality of garments 5+ quality of raw material, i.e. textile, has been standardised. Subsequently, when an organisation would again be required to produce AA+ quality materials, they would use 5+ quality materials without any hesitation and in relatively less time.

b) Standardisation of Equipment

Similarly, standardisation of machines would ensure that manual errors are reduced significantly. In turn, it would ensure completion of work faster and with negligible errors.

c) Standardisation of Methods Applied

Standardising the techniques of work would make the production process less cumbersome and relatively quick. Notably, methods devised to complete a particular work are put to use every time similar work is performed.

d) Standardisation of Working Conditions

Workers tend to perform more efficiently under favourable working conditions. When the working conditions, including safety, ventilation, hygiene, temperature, lighting, etc. are improved or standardised, it enhances productivity significantly. 

2. Simplification of Work

The primary objective behind simplification is to eliminate things, methods and practices that make the work complex and cumbersome.  

What is the Study of Work?

One of the techniques of scientific management – the study of work is mostly concerned with the analysis of organisational activities to produce high products cost-effectively.

Typically, scientific techniques of Taylor pertaining to the study of work can further be divided into four types –

1. Method Study

It tends to help producers to pick the most suitable method to finish a particular organisational activity. For instance, this study helps to figure out the most cost-effective way of procuring the required raw materials for production. Also, the objective of this study is to lower the cost of production and to increase customer satisfaction.

2. Motion Study

It is concerned with the analysis of movements of both workers and machines through the course of a production. It helps to analyse if adding or subtracting an activity would make the work faster and better in terms of quality or not. 

3. Time Study 

It helps to compute the standard time that would be required to finish a specific activity. In simple words it can be said, the major objective of this study is to estimate –

  1. Cost of labour

  2. Number of workers required for a task

  3. Suitable incentive plan

4. Fatigue study

It helps to find out the acceptable rest intervals that can be given to prevent the onset of mental fatigue among workers. However, the prospect to complete work on time is also the main priority of this study. 

Test Your Knowledge: Which of these techniques helps to determine the number of labours that need to be employed and also helps to determine labour cost?

  1. Simplification of work 

  2. Time study 

  3. Differential piece wage system 

  4. Functional foremanship

Test Your Knowledge: Which is the most common cause of fatigue among workers? Choose the correct option –

  1. Long working works

  2. Unsuitable working conditions 

  3. Non-cordial relations between employer and employee 

  4. All the above

What is the Differential Piece of Wage System?  

It is one of the techniques of scientific management that encourages the application of a piece wage system as a means to motivate employees. As per this system, payment is based on the amount of work done and not the time spent to complete it. 

Typically two different wage rates are put to use, namely, high wage rate and low wage rate. Workers who are adept at producing standard units within a given duration are entitled to receive payment as per the high wage rate. On the other hand, workers who fail to produce a specific number of units within the given time are paid as per the lower wage rate. 

For instance, the standard output for a day is 25 units, and the wage rates are 4 per unit and 6 per unit, respectively. Now, Sheldon produces 25 units in a day and subsequently earns 150 (25 units x 6).  Contrarily, Missy can produce only 20 units in a day and resultantly would make 80 (20 x 4). Even though there is only a 5 unit difference between Sheldon and Missy’s produce, there is a significant difference between their wages. 

As payment is based on efficiency here, workers would be motivated to increase their work efficiency. In turn, it would benefit both an organisation and its workers.

What is the Mental Revolution?

Mental Revolution is one of the techniques of scientific management that demands a change in employer’s and employees’ mindset. As per this management technique, a positive mindset is quite crucial for promoting the feeling of cooperation and in boosting proficiency. In its absence, conflicts pertaining to the division of labour and delegation of responsibility are bound to arise in an organisation.

Consequently, both employers and their workers should make an effort to increase the overall productivity of their firm through cooperation and by harbouring a positive outlook towards business operations.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Explain the Techniques of Scientific Management.

Ans. Techniques of scientific management can be defined as the means to implement principles of scientific management in practice. The primary motive of such methods is to simplify the production process in a way that boosts efficiency and improves production capacity. 

2. Why did Taylor Devise the Technique of Functional Foremanship? 

Ans. Taylor devised the technique of functional foremanship to optimise and simplify the process of production through a division of labour. The primary motive was to increase productivity efficiently. 

3. What are the Techniques of Scientific Management by FW Taylor?

Ans. These are the techniques of scientific management – functional foremanship, standardisation and simplification of work, work-study, differential piece wage system, and mental revolution.