By Henry Gantt

9: DEMOCRACY IN THE SHOP (Man Records)

In the chapter on “An Extension of the Credit System,” we referred only to financial credit.

The term credit, of course, has a much broader meaning. For instance, when a man has proved his knowledge on a certain subject, we “give him credit” for that knowledge; when he has proved his ability to do things, we “give him credit” for that ability. In other words, we have confidence that he will make good. The credit which we give a man, or the confidence which we place in him, is usually based on his record. We placed confidence in General Pershing because of his record. We gave him credit for being able to handle the biggest job we had, and our faith was not misplaced. If we had an exact record of the doings of every man, we should have a very comprehensive guide for the placing of confidence and the extending of credit—even financial credit. Inasmuch, however, as our record of individuals is exceedingly meager and our information concerning them is usually derived from interested parties, we have very little substantial basis for placing confidence in or extending credit to people in general. It is therefore hardly to be expected that a business system will risk investment without a more substantial guarantee for the financial credit it extends. It would seem, then, that if we really wish to establish such a credit system as is described in Chapter VI, we must keep such a record of the activities of individuals as will furnish the information needed to give a proper guarantee.

 

All records, however, are comparative, and the record of a man ‘s performance is comparatively valueless unless we are able to compare what he has done with what he should have one. The possibilities in the modem industrial system are so great that there is scarcely any conception of them by people in general. In fact, many accomplishments which have been heralded as quite extraordinary, are shown on careful examination to have been quite the reverse, when a comparison is made with the possibilities. In the past if a man has accomplished a desirable result, we have been pretty apt to let it go on its face value, and have seldom inquired into how it was done. We have no criticism of this as a habit of the past, but the war has brought an entirely different viewpoint into the world, and shown others besides Americans how inefficiently the world is conducting its civilization. Other peoples have realized that the real asset of a nation is its human power, and undoubtedly will soon begin to adopt means of measuring this power to the end that they may use it more effectively.

 

Some of us have made a start in this work by keeping individual records of operatives, showing as nearly as possible what they have done in comparison with what they might have done, with the reasons for their failing to accomplish the full amount. By systematically attempting to remove the obstacles which stood in the way of complete accomplishment, we have secured a remarkable degree of cooperation,
and developed in workmen possibilities which had been unsuspected. Further, we have developed the fact that nearly all workers welcome any assistance which may be given them by the foreman in removing the obstacles which confront them, and teaching them to become better workers. Chart No. 8 is an actual chart of this type from a factory and covers a period of two weeks. Each working day was ten hours, except Saturday, which was five. The charts are ruled accordingly. If a worker did all that was expected of him in a day the thin line goes clear across the space representing that day, and if he did more or less, the number of such thin lines or the length of the line indicate the amount. The number of days’ work he did in a week is represented by the heavy line. Wherever a dotted line is shown, it indicates that during that time the man worked on a job for which we had no estimated time. The letters are symbols indicating the cause of failure to perform the full amount of work. A key to these symbols follows Chart No. 8. Inasmuch as, according to our idea of management, it is a foreman’s function to remove the obstacles confronting the workmen, and to teach them how to do their work, an average of the performance of the workmen is a very fair measure of the efficiency of the foreman. This is shown by the line at the top of the chart. It may readily be seen that such a chart system gives a very fair means of fixing the compensation of workers and foremen, and a series of such charts kept up week after week will give us a measure of the amount of confidence which we may place in the individual foreman and workman, for if all obstacles are removed by the foreman the workman’s line is a measure of his effectiveness. Just as the line representing the average of all the workers is a measure of the foreman, so a line representing the average of all the foremen is in some degree at least a measure of the superintendent.

 

The improvement which has been made by workers under our teaching and record-keeping systems involves more than is at first apparent. For instance, it has clearly been proven that poor workmen are much more apt to migrate than good workmen. The natural conclusion from this is that if we wish to make workmen permanent, our first step must be to make better workmen of them. Our experience proves this conclusion to be correct. Many of our large industrial concerns have estimated that the cost of breaking in a new employee is very high—running from about $35.00 up. We have already satisfied ourselves that if only a fraction of this amount is expended in training the inferior workman, we
can reduce migration very materially. In other words, money spent in proper teaching and training of workmen is a highly profitable investment for any industrial concern, provided there is some means of measuring and recording the result. So beneficial have our training methods proved that we are inclined to believe that the practice of stealing good workmen from one’s competitor will ultimately prove to be as unprofitable as stealing his property.

 

Fig. 8 – Key for Man Record Chart

 

Before the rise of modern industry the world was controlled largely by predatory nations who held their own by exploiting and taking by force of arms from their less powerful neighbors. With the rise of modern industrialism, productive capacity has been proven so much stronger than military power that we believe the last grand scale attempt to practice the latter method of attaining wealth or power has been made. In this great war it was clearly proven that not what we have but what we can do is the more important. It clearly follows, then, that the workers we have are not so important as our ability to train others; again illustrating the fact that our productive capacity is more important than our possessions.

 

That the methods which I have here so inadequately described are of broad applicability, has been proven by the fact that they have received enthusiastic support of the workmen wherever they have been tried. As previously said, it is undoubtedly true that the “efficiency” methods which have been so much in vogue for the past twenty years in this country, have failed to produce what was expected of them. The reason seems to be that we have to a large extent ignored the human factor and failed to take advantage of the ability and desire of the ordinary man to learn and to improve his position. Moreover, these “efficiency” methods have been applied in a manner that was highly autocratic. This alone would be sufficient to condemn them, even if they had been highly effective, which they have not. In this connection it has been clearly prove that better results can be accomplished if the man who instructs the workman also inspects the work and not only shows the workman where he is wrong, but how to correct his errors, than if the inspection is left to a comparatively ignorant man, who is governed by rules. The attempt to combine instruction and inspection in one man has met with the highest approval among the workmen, with the result of better work and less loss. This method is contrary to the usual practice, inasmuch as instruction and inspection have been considered two functions, the former requiring an expert and the latter a much less capable, and hence cheaper, man. We are satisfied that this analysis is defective; the inspector who can show the workman how to avoid his errors is usually worth far more than the extra compensation required to secure his services. It may be impossible to measure the exact material value of these methods individually, but the total effect is reflected in an improved and increased product at a lower cost. Inasmuch as there is no necessity for any coercion in applying these methods when we have an instructor who is capable of being a leader, we rapidly attain a high degree of democracy in the shop. On the other hand, if the instructor chosen fails to measure up to the standard of leadership, it is never long before his shortcomings are exposed, for through the medium of our charts available facts are easily comprehended by all. By these methods we automatically select as leader the man who knows what to do and how to do it, and when he has been found and installed, progress is rapid and sure.

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