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talking to him in the most friendly way, and this should be repeated several times over until it is evident that mild treatment does not produce the desired effect.
Certain men are both thick-skinned and coarse-grained, and these individuals are apt to mistake a mild manner and a kindly way of saying things for timidity or weakness. With such men the severity both of words and manner should be gradually increased until either the desired result has been attained or the possibilities of the English language have been exhausted.
Up to this point all systems of discipline should be alike. There will be found in all shops, however, a certain number of men with whom talk, either mild or severe, will have little or no effect, unless it produces the conviction that something more tangible and disagreeable will come next. The question is what this something shall be.
Discharging the men is, of course, effective as far as that individual is concerned, and this is in all cases the last step; but it is desirable to have several remedies between talking and discharging more severe than the one and less drastic than the other.
Usually one or more of the following expedients are adopted for this purpose:
First. Lowering the man's wages.
Second. Laying him off for a longer or shorter period of time.
Third. Fining him.
Fourth. Giving him a series of "bad marks," and when these sum up to more than a given number per week or month, applying one or the other of the first three remedies.
The general objections to the first and second expedients is that for a large number of offenses they are too severe, so that the disciplinarian hesitates to apply them. The men find this out, and some of them will take advantage of this and keep much of the time close to the limit. In laying a man off, also, the employer is apt to suffer as much in many cases as the man, through having machinery lying idle or work delayed. The fourth remedy is also objectionable because some men will deliberately take close to their maximum of "bad marks."
In the writer's experience, the fining system, if justly and properly applied, is more effective and much to be preferred to either of the others. He has applied this system of discipline in various works with uniform success over a long period of years, and so far as he knows, none of those who have tried it under his directions have abandoned it.
The success of the fining system depends upon two elements:
First. The impartiality, good judgment and justice with which it is applied.
Second. Every cent of the fines imposed should in some form be returned to the workmen. If any part of the fines is retained by the company, it is next to impossible to keep the workmen from believing that at least a part of the motive in fining them is to make money out of them; and this thought works so much harm as to more than overbalance the good effects of the system. If, however, all of the fines are in some way promptly returned to the men, they recognize it as purely a system of discipline, and it is so direct, effective and uniformly just that the best men soon appreciate its value and approve of it quite as much as the company.
In many cases the writer has first formed a mutual beneficial association among the employees, to which all of the men as well as the company contribute. An accident insurance association is much safer and less liable to be abused than a general sickness or life insurance association; so that, when practicable, an association of this sort should be formed and managed by the men. All of the fines can then be turned over each week to this association and so find their way directly back to the men. Like all other elements, the fining system should not be plunged into head first. It should be worked up to gradually and with judgment, choosing at first only the most flagrant cases for fining and those offenses which affect the welfare of some of the other workmen. It will not be properly and most effectively applied until small offenses as well as great receive their appropriate fine. The writer has fined men from one cent to as high as sixty dollars per fine. It is most important that the fines should be applied absolutely impartially to all employees, high and low. The writer has invariably fined himself just as he would the men under him for all offenses committed.
The fine is best applied in the form of a request to contribute a certain amount to the mutual beneficial association, with the understanding that unless this request is complied with the man will be discharged.
In certain cases the fining system may not produce the desired result, so that coupled with it as an additional means of disciplining the men should be the first and second expedients of "lowering wages" and "laying the men off for a longer or shorter time"
The writer does not at all depreciate the value of the many semi-philanthropic and paternal aids and improvements, such as comfortable lavatories, eating rooms, lecture halls, and free lectures, night schools, kindergartens, baseball and athletic grounds, village improvement societies, and mutual beneficial associations, unless done for advertising purposes. This kind of so-called welfare work all tends to improve and elevate the workmen and make life better worth living. Viewed from the managers' standpoint they are valuable aids in making more intelligent and better workmen, and in promoting a kindly feeling among the men for their employers. They are, however, of distinctly secondary importance, and should never be allowed to engross the attention of the superintendent to the detriment of the more important and fundamental elements of management. They should come in all establishments, but they should come only after the great problem of work and wages has been permanently settled to the satisfaction of both parties. The solution of this problem will take more than the entire time of the management in the average case for several years.
Mr. Patterson, of the National Cash Register Company, of Dayton, Ohio, has presented to the world a grand object lesson of the combination of many philanthropic schemes with, in many respects, a practical and efficient management. He stands out a pioneer in this work and an example of a kindhearted and truly successful man. Yet I feel that the recent strike in his works demonstrates all the more forcibly my contention that the establishment of the semi-philanthropic schemes should follow instead of preceding the solution of the wages question; unless, as is very rarely the case, there are brains, energy and money enough available in a company to establish both elements at the same time.
Unfortunately there is no school of management. There is no single establishment where a relatively large part of the details of management can be seen, which represent the best of their kinds. The finest developments are for the most part isolated, and in many cases almost buried with the mass of rubbish which surrounds them.
Among the many improvements for which the originators will probably never receive the credit which they deserve the following may be mentioned.
The remarkable system for analyzing all of the work upon new machines as the drawings arrived from the drafting-room and of directing the movement and grouping of the various parts as they progressed through the shop, which was developed and used for several years by Mr. Wm. II. Thorne, of Wm. Sellers & Co., of Philadelphia, while the company was under the general management of Mr. J. Sellers Bancroft. Unfortunately the full benefit of this method was never realized owing to the lack of the other functional elements which should have accompanied it.
And then the employment bureau which forms such an important element of the Western Electric Company in Chicago; the complete and effective system for managing the messenger boys introduced by Mr. Almon Emrie while superintendent of the Ingersoll Sargent Drill Company, of Easton, Pa.; the mnemonic system of order numbers invented by Mr. Oberlin Smith and amplified by Mr. Henry R. Towne, of The Yale & Towne Company, of Stamford, Conn.; and the system of inspection introduced by Mr. Chas. D. Rogers in the works of the American Screw Company, at Providence, R. I. and the many good points in the apprentice system developed by Mr. Vauclain, of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, of Philadelphia.
The card system of shop returns invented and introduced as a complete system by Captain Henry Metcalfe, U. S. A., in the government shops of the Frankford Arsenal represents another such distinct advance in the art of management. The writer appreciates the difficulty of this undertaking as he was at the same time engaged in the slow evolution of a similar system in the Midvale Steel Works, which, however, was the result of a gradual development instead of a complete, well thought out invention as was that of Captain Metcalfe.
The writer is indebted to most of these gentlemen and to many others, but most of all to the Midvale Steel Company, for elements of the system which he has described. The rapid and successful application of the general principles involved in any system will depend largely upon the adoption of those details which have been found in actual service to be most useful. There are many such elements which the writer feels should be described in minute detail. It would, however, be improper to burden this record with matters of such comparatively small importance.
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