Page 3: Scientific management
Frederick Taylor looked at work within a production setting. He was one of the earliest advocates of professional management and believed that the relationship between task and workers' cooperation could be standardised.
Taylor's scientific management theory involved observing workers to see how they carried out tasks. As a result of his work tasks were broken down into smaller scale units of work, requiring little understanding from employees of what they were doing.
This job specialisation meant that workers undertook tasks with a narrowly defined range, for which they were rewarded according to how much they produced. Payment systems rewarded those who produced the most. Today, engineering needs people with greater capability and flexibility. Engineering staff at all levels need to use their knowledge and skills in many different situations.
Taylor's way of working is very different from the needs of the modern working environment. However his work has helped form a scientific understanding of how work is organised.
At Siemens, the culture encourages employees to become more involved in their work, suggesting and implementing improvements. Control as originally suggested by Taylor, which removed personal responsibility, is not what modern engineering is about. Controls still exist but the person doing the job is encouraged to work as part of a team and become involved in deciding the best way to do or improve a task.
This is because in engineering there is a continuous need to develop new and better products and processes. They cannot be confined to one way of doing things. For example, a new product or process may open the way to new markets.
Observing employees doing a job helps to understand better some of the processes. However, this alone should not be used as a form of control. By working with individuals as they perform their roles, it is possible to harness people”s enthusiasm and their ideas so that improvements can be made.
This provides them with rewards and benefits, not just in terms of pay, but also in job satisfaction and recognition. Working with employees helps to meet their higher needs.