trained as an engineer and played a prominent role

FREDRICK TAYLOR’S SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENTIn 1913, Frederick Taylor published Principles of Scientific Management, ushering in acompletely new way of understanding the modern organization. Frederick Taylor wastrained as an engineer and played a prominent role in the idea of scientificmanagement. Scientific management is a management-oriented and productioncentered perspective of organizational communication. Taylor believed that the reasonmost organizations failed was because they lacked successful systematic management.He wrote that “the best management is true science resting upon clearly defined laws,rules, and principles, as a foundation.” He further noted that “under scientificmanagement, arbitrary power, arbitrary dictation ceases, and every single subject, largeand small, becomes a question for scientific investigation, for reduction to law.” Taylorbelieved that any job could be performed better if it were investigated scientifically.Taylor developed time and motion studies that helped improve organizational efficiency.Working as a foreman for the Bethlehem Steel Works in the 1900s, Taylorobserved how workers could do more with less time. He analyzed coalshoveling at the factory and noticed that several workers brought differentsizes of shovels from home. Workers who brought small shovels could domore but it took them longer, and workers who brought big shovels could doless but it was faster. He observed that the best size shovel was oneweighing about twenty pounds. As a result, he directed the organization toprovide all the workers with the same size shovel. He also provided payincentives for workers who could shovel more coal. By making thesechanges, the organization dramatically increased its production.[1][2][3][4]Taylor believed that several steps must be taken in order to create a moreproductive organization. First, one must examine the job or task. Second, oneneeds to determine the best way to complete the job or task. Third, one mustchoose the most appropriate person for the task while at the same timeproviding proper compensation. Last, one must be able to train the person todo the task efficiently. Taylor believed that by using these scientific stepsorganizations gain efficiencies.Taylor’s idea of scientific management originated during a time when mostworker training was based on apprenticeship models. In an apprenticeship, aperson would be taught by a more skilled and experienced person, whowould demonstrate the task so the inexperienced person could model thebehavior. Taylor believed that this was a very ineffective way of trainingbecause he felt that workers would differ in terms of the tasksthey performed, and the quality or efficiency of task completion woulddepend on the kind of training they received. Taylor argued that there shouldbe only one way to explain the job and one way to execute the task. Hedidn’t think the training of apprentices should be left to individual “experts.”Overall, Taylor felt that employees are lazy and need constant supervision.He posited that “the tendency of the average [employee] is toward workingat a slow easy gait.” He called this tendency “natural soldiering”(“soldiering” is another word for “taking it easy”). One’s natural tendency totake it easy on the job can also be affected by “systematic soldiering,” whichoccurs when when employees decrease their work production based on inputor communications from others or if they feel that working harder will notresult in greater compensation. When employees are paid by the hour, thereis an additional incentive to slow down—it’s better to “soldier” and show thattasks take longer than might really be necessary. On account of what he tookto be workers’ inherent laziness, Taylor understood the impact of workers onproduction rates and the need for more efficient work practices.Taylor is known for developing time and motion studies of work. These weremethods for calculating production efficiency by recording outcomes and thetime it takes to produce those outcomes. Taylor believed that if each taskwere scientifically designed and the workers could be trained, thenproduction could be measured by timing the labor the workers performed.The idea was to create quantified benchmarks for work in order to improveefficiency and production outcomes. Taylor’s time and motion studies werefurthered by Frank Gilbreth, who used film to capture workers in action togain a better understanding of physical movements. In the following video,you can see the work of Frank Gilbreth, along with his wife Lilian, as theyattempted to use time and motion techniques to make bricklaying moreeffective, productive, and profitable.In the first half of the video, the initial configuration of the scaffoldingrequired the bricklayers to do a lot of bending. The bending motion not onlytook more time but also increased the workers’ fatigue as the day wore on,making them less effective and productive. In the second half of the video,after the time and motion study, you saw the solution: a new scaffoldingarrangement that no longer required bending over to pick up the bricks. Itwas time and motion studies like these that enabled researchers (andemployers) to investigate the mechanics of doing work—which, in manycases, led to genuine improvements in worker conditions and worktechniques.Taylor’s mechanistic vision applied to organizations as a whole: ideally, worktasks would be clearcut and simple, and the sum total of employeesefficiently performing their tasks would be a company that runs like a wellfunctioning machine.[5]Taylor’s ideas do not leave much room for flexibility, creativity, or originalityon the worker’s part. In his view, there is a strong and necessary divisionbetween managers, who do the thinking, and workers, who do the laboring.Nor do Taylor’s scientific principles address the messier, more human side oforganizational management—things like interpersonal relationships, workmotivation, and turbulence in organizations. Taylor didn’t think it wasimportant to build rapport with workers. Managers ought to communicate ina straightforward manner; employees don’t need to give input—they justneed to know how to do their jobs.Though Taylor’s ideas were wildly popular in their day, they had detractorseven then. As early as 1912, the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relationsexpressed skepticism about scientific management (what many were calling“Taylorism”):To sum up, scientific management in practice generally tends to weaken thecompetitive power of the individual worker and thwarts the formation ofshop groups and weakens group solidarity; moreover, generally scientificmanagement is lacking in the arrangements and machinery necessary forthe actual voicing of the workers ideas and complaints and for thedemocratic consideration and adjustment of grievances.[6]RESULTS OF THE HAWTHORNE STUDIESThe Hawthorne studies were conducted on workers at the Hawthorne plant of theWestern Electric Company by Elton Mayo and Fritz Roethlisberger in the 1920s. TheHawthorne studies were part of a refocus on managerial strategy incorporating thesocio-psychological aspects of human behavior in organizations.The following video from the AT&T archives contains interviews with individuals whoparticipated in these studies. It provides additional insight into the way the studies wereconducted and how they changed employers’ views on worker motivation.The studies originally looked into whether workers were more responsive and workedmore efficiently under certain environmental conditions, such as improved lighting. Theresults were surprising: Mayo and Roethlisberger found that workers were moreresponsive to social factors—such as the people they worked with on a team and theamount of interest their manager had in their work—than the factors (lighting, etc.) theresearchers had gone in to inspect.The Hawthorne studies discovered that workers were highly responsive to additionalattention from their managers and the feeling that their managers actually cared about,and were interested in, their work. The studies also found that although financialmotives are important, social issues are equally important factors in worker productivity.There were a number of other experiments conducted in the Hawthorne studies,including one in which two women were chosen as test subjects and were then asked tochoose four other workers to join the test group. Together, the women workedassembling telephone relays in a separate room over the course of five years (1927–1932). Their output was measured during this time—at first, in secret. It started twoweeks before moving the women to an experiment room and continued throughout thestudy. In the experiment room, they had a supervisor who discussed changes with themand, at times, used the women’s suggestions. The researchers then spent five yearsmeasuring how different variables impacted both the group’s and the individuals’productivity. Some of the variables included giving two five-minute breaks (after adiscussion with the group on the best length of time), and then changing to two 10minute breaks (not the preference of the group).INTANGIBLE MOTIVATORSChanging a variable usually increased productivity, even if the variable was just achange back to the original condition. Researchers concluded that the employeesworked harder because they thought they were being monitored individually.Researchers hypothesized that choosing one’s own coworkers, working as a group,being treated as special (as evidenced by working in a separate room), and having asympathetic supervisor were the real reasons for the productivity increase.The Hawthorne studies showed that people’s work performance is dependent on socialissues and job satisfaction, and that monetary incentives and good working conditionsare generally less important in improving employee productivity than meetingindividuals’ need and desire to belong to a group and be included in decision makingand work.Need-Based Motivation TheoriesMASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDSAbraham Maslow is among the most prominent psychologists of thetwentieth century, and the hierarchy of needs, accompanied by the pyramidrepresenting how human needs are ranked (see Figure 1, below), is anidea familiar to most business students and managers. Maslow’s theory isbased on a simple premise: Human beings have needs that are hierarchicallyranked. Some needs are basic to all human beings, and in their absence,nothing else matters. As we satisfy these basic needs, we start looking tosatisfy higher-order needs. Once a lower-level need is satisfied, it no longerserves as a motivator.The most basic of Maslow’s needs are physiological needs. Physiologicalneeds refer to the need for air, food, and water. Imagine being very hungry.At that point, all your behavior will probably be directed at finding food. Onceyou eat, though, the search for food ceases and the promise of food nolonger serves as a motivator. Once physiological needs are satisfied, peopletend to become concerned about safety. Are they safe from danger, pain, oran uncertain future? One level up, social needs refer to the need to bondwith other human beings, to be loved, and to form lasting attachments. Infact, having no attachments can negatively affect health and well-being.The satisfaction of social needs makes esteem needs more salient. Esteem[1][2]needs refer to the desire to be respected by one’s peers, feeling important,and being appreciated. Finally, at the highest level of the hierarchy, the needfor self-actualization refers to “becoming all you are capable of becoming.”This need manifests itself by acquiring new skills, taking on new challenges,and behaving in a way that will lead to the satisfaction of one’s life goals.Figure 1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of NeedsMaslow’s hierarchy is a systematic way of thinking about the different needsemployees may have at any given point and explains different reactions theymay have to similar treatment. An employee who is trying to satisfy heresteem needs may feel gratified when her supervisor praises her. However,another employee who is trying to satisfy his social needs may resent beingpraised by upper management in front of peers if the praise sets him apartfrom the rest of the group.So, how can organizations satisfy their employees’ various needs? Byleveraging the various facets of the planning-organizing-leading-controlling(P-O-L-C) functions. In the long run, physiological needs may be satisfied bythe person’s paycheck, but it is important to remember that pay may satisfyother needs such as safety and esteem as well. Providing generous benefits,including health insurance and company-sponsored retirement plans, as wellas offering a measure of job security, will help satisfy safety needs. Socialneeds may be satisfied by having a friendly environment, providing aworkplace conducive to collaboration and communication with others.Company picnics and other social get-togethers may also be helpful if themajority of employees are motivated primarily by social needs (but maycause resentment if they are not and if they have to sacrifice a Sundayafternoon for a company picnic). Providing promotion opportunities at work,recognizing a person’s accomplishments verbally or through more formalreward systems, job titles that communicate to the employee that one hasachieved high status within the organization are among the ways ofsatisfying esteem needs. Finally, self-actualization needs may be satisfied byproviding development and growth opportunities on or off the job, as well asby assigning interesting and challenging work. By making the effort to satisfythe different needs each employee may have at a given time, organizationsmay ensure a more highly motivated workforce.ERG THEORYThe ERG theory of Clayton Alderfer is a modification of Maslow’s hierarchy ofneeds. Instead of the five needs that are hierarchically organized, Alderferproposed that basic human needs may be grouped under three categories:Existence, Relatedness, and Growth (see Figure 2, below). Existence needcorresponds to Maslow’s physiological and safety needs, relatednesscorresponds to social needs, and growth need refers to Maslow’s esteem andself-actualization.[3]Figure 2. ERG Theory of NeedsERG theory’s main contribution to the literature is its relaxation of Maslow’sassumptions. For example, ERG theory does not rank needs in any particularorder and explicitly recognizes that more than one need may operate at agiven time. Moreover, the theory has a “frustration-regression” hypothesis,suggesting that individuals who are frustrated in their attempts to satisfy oneneed may regress to another one. For example, someone who is frustratedby the lack of growth opportunities in his job and slow progress towardcareer goals may regress to relatedness needs and start spending more timesocializing with one’s coworkers. The implication of this theory is that weneed to recognize the multiple needs that may be driving an individual at agiven point to understand his behavior and to motivate him.TWO-FACTOR THEORYFrederick Herzberg approached the question of motivation in a different way.By asking individuals what satisfies them on the job and what dissatisfiesthem, Herzberg came to the conclusion that aspects of the work environmentthat satisfy employees are very different from aspects that dissatisfythem. Herzberg labeled factors causing dissatisfaction of workers as“hygiene” factors because these factors were part of the context in whichthe job was performed, as opposed to the job itself. Hygiene factors includedcompany policies, supervision, working conditions, salary, safety, andsecurity on the job. To illustrate, imagine that you are working in anunpleasant work environment. Your office is too hot in the summer and toocold in the winter. You are being harassed and mistreated. You wouldcertainly be miserable in such a work environment. However, if theseproblems were solved (your office temperature is just right and you are notharassed at all), would you be motivated? Most likely you would take thesituation for granted. In fact, many factors in our work environment arethings that we miss when they are absent but take for granted if they arepresent.In contrast, motivators are factors that are intrinsic to the job, such asachievement, recognition, interesting work, increased responsibilities,advancement, and growth opportunities. According to Herzberg’s research,motivators are the conditions that truly encourage employees to try harder.[4]Figure 3. Two-Factor Theory of MotivationHerzberg’s research, which is summarized in Figure 3, above, has received itsshare of criticism. One criticism relates to the classification of the factors ashygiene or motivator. For example, pay is viewed as a hygiene factor.However, pay is not necessarily a contextual factor and may have symbolic[5]value by showing employees that they are being recognized for theircontributions as well as communicating to them that they are advancingwithin the company. Similarly, quality of supervision or relationshipsemployees form with their supervisors may determine whether they areassigned interesting work, whether they are recognized for their potential,and whether they take on more responsibilities. Despite its limitations, thetwo-factor theory can be a valuable aid to managers because it points outthat improving the environment in which the job is performed goes only sofar in motivating employees.ACQUIRED-NEEDS THEORYAmong the need-based approaches to motivation, Douglas McClelland’sacquired-needs theory is the one that has received the greatest amount ofsupport. According to this theory, individuals acquire three types of needs asa result of their life experiences. These needs are need for achievement,need for affiliation, and need for power. All individuals possess a combinationof these needs.Those who have a high need for achievement have a strong need to besuccessful. A worker who derives great satisfaction from meeting deadlines,coming up with brilliant ideas, and planning his or her next career move maybe high in need for achievement. Individuals high on need for achievementare well suited to positions such as sales, where there are explicit goals,feedback is immediately available, and their effort often leads to success.Because of their success in lower-level jobs, those in high need forachievement are often promoted to higher-level positions. However, a highneed for achievement has important disadvantages in management.Management involves getting work done by motivating others. When asalesperson is promoted to be a sales manager, the job description changesfrom actively selling to recruiting, motivating, and training salespeople.Those who are high in need for achievement may view managerial activitiessuch as coaching, communicating, and meeting with subordinates as a wasteof time. Moreover, they enjoy doing things themselves and may find itdifficult to delegate authority. They may become overbearing ormicromanaging bosses, expecting everyone to be as dedicated to work asthey are, and expecting subordinates to do things exactly the way they areused to doing.Individuals who have a high need for affiliation want to be liked and acceptedby others. When given a choice, they prefer to interact with others and bewith friends. Their emphasis on harmonious interpersonal relationshipsmay be an advantage in jobs and occupations requiring frequentinterpersonal interaction, such as social worker or teacher. In managerialpositions, a high need for affiliation may again serve as a disadvantage[6][7][8][9]because these individuals tend to be overly concerned about how they areperceived by others. Thus, they may find it difficult to perform some aspectsof a manager’s job such as giving employees critical feedback or discipliningpoor performers.Finally, those with high need for power want to influence others and controltheir environment. Need for power may be destructive of one’s relationshipsif it takes the form of seeking and using power for one’s own good andprestige. However, when it manifests itself in more altruistic forms, such aschanging the way things are done so that the work environment is morepositive or negotiating more resources for one’s department, it tends to leadto positive outcomes. In fact, need for power is viewed as important foreffectiveness in managerial and leadership positions.McClelland’s theory of acquired needs has important implications formotivating employees. While someone who has high need for achievementmay respond to goals, those with high need for affiliation may be motivatedto gain the approval of their peers and supervisors, whereas those who havehigh need for power may value gaining influence over the supervisor oracquiring a position that has decision-making authority. And, when it comesto succeeding in managerial positions, individuals who are aware of thedrawbacks of their need orientation can take steps to overcome thesedrawbacks.[10]Process-Based TheoriesEQUITY THEORYImagine that your friend Marie is paid $10 an hour working as an officeassistant. She has held this job for six months. She is very good at what shedoes, she comes up with creative ways to make things easier in theworkplace, and she is a good colleague who is willing to help others. Shestays late when necessary and is flexible if asked to rearrange her prioritiesor her work hours. Now imagine that Marie finds out her manager is hiringanother employee, Spencer, who is going to work with her, who will hold thesame job title and will perform the same type of tasks. Spencer has moreadvanced computer skills, but it is unclear whether these will be used on thejob. The starting pay for Spencer will be $14 an hour. How would Marie feel?Would she be as motivated as before, going above and beyond her duties?If your reaction to this scenario was along the lines of “Marie would think it’sunfair,” your feelings may be explained using equity theory. According to thistheory, individuals are motivated by a sense of fairness in their interactions.Moreover, our sense of fairness is a result of the social comparisons wemake. Specifically, we compare our inputs and outputs with someone else’sinputs and outputs. We perceive fairness if we believe that the input-tooutput ratio we are bringing into the situation is similar to the input/outputratio of a comparison person, or a referent. Perceptions of inequity createtension within us and drive us to action that will reduce perceived inequity.This process is illustrated in the Equity Formula.[1]Figure 1. The Equity FormulaWHAT ARE INPUTS AND OUTPUTS?Inputs are the contributions the person feels he or she is making to theenvironment. In the previous example, the hard work Marie was providing,loyalty to the organization, the number of months she has worked there,level of education, training, and her skills may have been relevant inputs.Outputs are the rewards the person feels he or she is receiving from thesituation. The $10 an hour Marie is receiving was a salient output. There maybe other outputs, such as the benefits received or the treatment one getsfrom the boss. In the prior example, Marie may reason as follows: “I havebeen working here for six months. I am loyal and I perform well (inputs). I ampaid $10 an hour for this (outputs). The new guy, Spencer, does not haveany experience here (referent’s inputs) but will be paid $14 (referent’soutcomes). This situation is unfair.”We should emphasize that equity perceptions develop as a result of asubjective process. Different people may look at exactly the same situationand perceive different levels of equity. For example, another person may lookat the same scenario and decide that the situation is fair because Spencerhas computer skills and the company is paying extra for these skills.WHO IS THE REFERENT?The referent other may be a specific person or an entire category of people.For example, Marie might look at want ads for entry-level clerical workersand see whether the pay offered is in the $10-per-hour range; in this case,the referent other is the category of entry-level clerical workers, includingoffice assistants, in Marie’s local area. Referents should be comparable to us—otherwise the comparison is not meaningful. It would be illogical for Marieto compare herself to the CEO of the company, given the differences in thenature of inputs and outcomes. Instead, she would logically compare herselfto those performing similar tasks within the same organization or a differentorganization…

 

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