• FW Taylor lived in an era when management was an ad hoc practice rather than a true and trained discipline. He was mainly concerned with increasing the productivity of workers.
  • Labour productivity is the number of units/goods produced per given unit of time, usually one hour.
  • Taylor believed that management should be a true science and workers should not be left to their own devices where they choose the pace of work, the goals and the methods to be used to achieve goals.
  • Instead, management should be a true science. Management should set and determine the goals they want to achieve. They should also conduct a work-study.
  • A work-study is a system of assessing methods of working so as to achieve maximum output and efficiency. Work study is therefore an attempt by managers to identify the best method of performing a task.
  • During a work-study, various techniques such as video recording, observing and interviewing are used on those workers that have a higher output than all the others. The fastest/best workers are observed as they work. Their method/way of completing the task is recorded. This way is used to train all the other workers in the organisation.
  • Once workers have been trained, a target/goal is set that they have to achieve. Performance-related payment systems are used to reward workers. Workers who achieve and exceed the set target are given a bonus or some form of financial reward. Those that fail to achieve the set target are punished, reprimanded and told to do better.
  • According to Taylor, money is a motivator. In order to motivate workers, there has to be a clear relationship between pay and performance. He used the piece-rate system of compensation, which is still widely employed.
  • Taylor also insisted that after a work-study had been completed, management should come up with a profile of the best person for the job/task. During recruitment, selection and allocation of roles, the best person must be given the job.
  • Taylor emphasised that management techniques should be based on real science and not on whims.

How to motivate workers under Taylorism:

  • Management should take control of the work situation.
  • Management should conduct a work-study.
  • Once the best way to do a job/task is determined, all the other workers should be trained in this method.
  • Management should set clearly defined goals.
  • A clear payment system that is based on performance, e.g. piece rate, should be communicated to employees.
  • Those who meet the target and exceed it must be rewarded.
  • Those who fail to meet the target should be punished.
  • The best workers for a given task/job must be scientifically selected based on their ability to do the job.
  • For example, in the army and police, there is a minimum height requirement that has to be met in order for a person to do their job.
  • Taylor introduced work breaks, which allowed workers to be more productive.
  • His theory supports specialization, which improves productivity.

Strengths of Taylor’s Theory:

  • It led to the development of management as a science.
  • Businesses still conduct selection processes in order to determine the best person for the job.
  • Linking pay to performance clearly motivates workers as was proved by Taylor’s own consultancy achievements.
  • Training workers increases efficiency and gives the workers the confidence needed to perform their jobs.
  • Standardizing tasks eliminates chaos at the workplace and ensures standard results.
  • Taylor introduced work breaks which allowed workers to be more productive.
  • His theory supports specialization which improves productivity.

Weaknesses of Taylor’s Theory:

  • It dehumanizes workers by treating them like machines, reducing their job to repetitive tasks.
  • It ignores the social and psychological needs of workers, which can lead to low morale and high turnover.
  • It assumes that workers are only motivated by money and fails to recognize other factors that motivate workers such as job satisfaction, recognition, and a sense of purpose.
  • It does not take into account the potential negative effects of competition among workers to meet performance targets, which can lead to resentment and sabotage.
  • It can create a rigid and inflexible workplace culture that is resistant to change and innovation.
  • It may not be suitable for all types of industries or tasks, as some jobs require creativity and flexibility, which may not be compatible with Taylor’s principles of standardization and specialization. For example, artistic industries like music and film require creativity and innovation to succeed, and Taylor’s principles may not be suitable for these industries.

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