What are the four principles by Frederick Taylor?

Frederick Taylor is popularly known as the Father of Scientific Management. The goal of Frederick Taylor’s (1901) scientific management was to use the systematic study to find the ‘one best way’ of doing each task. To do that, managers must follow the four principles:

• First, ‘develop a science’ for each element of work. Study it. Analyze it. Determine the ‘one best way’ to do the work. For example, one of Taylor’s controversial proposals at the time was to give rest breaks to factory workers doing physical labor. Today, we take breaks for granted, but in Taylor’s day, factory workers were expected to work without stopping. Through systematic experiments, Taylor showed that frequent rest breaks greatly increased daily output.

• Second, scientifically select, train, teach and develop workers to help them reach their full potential. Before Taylor, supervisors often hired on the basis of favoritism and nepotism. Who you knew was often more important than what you could do. By contrast, Taylor instructed supervisors to hire ‘first-class’ workers on the basis of their aptitude to do a job well. For similar reasons, Taylor also recommended that companies train and develop their workers – a rare practice at the time.

• Third, cooperate with employees to ensure implementation of the scientific principles. As Taylor knew from personal experience, more often than not workers and management viewed each other as enemies. Taylor said, ‘The majority of these men believe that the fundamental interests of employees and employers are necessarily antagonistic. Scientific management, on the contrary, has at its very foundation the firm a conviction that the true interests of the two are one and the same; that prosperity for the employer cannot exist for many years unless it is accompanied by prosperity for the employee and vice versa; and that it is possible to give the worker what is most wanted – high wages – and the employer what he wants – a low labor cost – for the product’.

• The fourth principle of scientific management was to divide the work and the responsibility equally between management and workers. Prior to Taylor, workers alone were held responsible for productivity and performance. But, said Taylor, ‘Almost every act of the workman should be preceded by one or more preparatory acts of the management which enable him to do his work better and quicker than he otherwise could’.

Above all, Taylor felt these principles could be used to determine a ‘fair day’s work’, for a ‘fair day’s pay’ for management and employees so that what was good for employees was also good for management. One of the best ways, according to Taylor, to align management and employees was to use incentives to motivate workers e.g. payment for each product produced.

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