This section is from the "Modern Machine Shop Construction, Equipment, And Management" book, by Oscar E. Perrigo. Also see Amazon: Modern Machine Shop Construction, Equipment, And Management.
While we are ready to admit with a somewhat prominent writer that there is a good deal of "frenzied finance" abroad in the land, we have not far to go to find equally prominent instances of frenzied mechanics, in which there is much more noise than good sense, good judgment, or knowledge of human nature, as represented by the large majority of employees in machine shops and manufacturing establishments generally.
The best and most successful managers are the leaders and not the drivers of men. The quiet and methodical manager naturally creates an atmosphere of loyalty and discipline among his subordinates, who obey his orders with alacrity and good faith. Hence, good results flow naturally from their united efforts, while the nervous, belligerent manager with the " billy-goat" propensity of "butting in" on any and all occasions, not only keeps "rattled" himself, and so in no condition of mind to properly decide important questions, but is an important factor in producing a state of incompetency, disorder, and consequent failure.
Let us now proceed to consider the management of a model machine shop or manufacturing plant in a general way, leaving the scheme of the different departments in detail for later consideration.
Probably no one will take exception to the proposition that we shall have reached the perfect system of management when we shall have devised methods by which we may produce the greatest amount of good work with the smallest number of employees and the least amount of friction and irritation among them.
How this is to be accomplished is worthy of the most patient investigation, for the question of the management of machine shops and manufacturing plants is one of many phases. There are several general propositions in this connection that should be briefly stated. Among them are the following:
Any reasonable system is better than no system at all. There are shops to-day running, or trying to run, in which there is really no system worthy of the name, and things are allowed to drift along from day to day "by guess and good luck," just as they did forty years ago, and if we inquire why this or that thing is done so and so, we get the stereotyped reply, "That's the way we've always done it." One of these days these shops will "wake up and find themselves dead," as the Irishman said, or they will adopt some kind of a system that will be of modern brand.
The adoption of a part of a system, or a system for one part of the works and not for the remainder, "just as a trial to see how it will work," is practically no better than no system at all".
The endeavor to adopt a system composed of parts of various systems, grafted upon, added to, dovetailed together, and patched until they lose all their identity, like Joseph's coat of many colors, is but to invite a dismal failure. Many a good plan has been killed and its author humiliated by adopting it piecemeal.
To be successful the system must be complete and comprehensive, clearly defining every regulation as to the progress of the work, the method of accounting for time and materials, records of pay and efficiency of employees, and the duties and limitations of authority of every person concerned, from the manager down to the errand boy, so that the fewest cases may arise that have not been provided for in the system, and that there may be as much certainty and distinctness as in the regulations of the United States Army. Then we shall realize the highest efficiency and the least amount of friction.
The system must be carried out in every particular as it is planned, unless there are very serious reasons for a change. Of course, even the Constitution of the United States can be amended, but only for weighty reasons, and "while it stands, it goes." Shop regulations should be on the same basis, and all employees will soon come to respect them, and to realize that they operate just as much for their welfare and protection as for the benefit of the owners of the plant; that so long as they are obeyed in a spirit of faithful service the employee is always right; and that when they are disobeyed through carelessness, a desire to shirk duty, or even from the "smart Aleck" notion that some employees get into their heads, there is a good prospect for trouble to the offending parties.
The man who is to manage the administration of the system must be strong, able, honest, fearless, and positive. He must be strong in carrying out the system that has been adopted; otherwise his weakness will be soon discovered by his subordinates and the "backbone" of the system will be broken. He must be able, both by education and experience, to understand and appreciate all the details of the business. Of course, he must be honest in all his dealings with his subordinates as well as with the owners. He must be fearless, giving his orders where and when and to whom they are necessary and take the responsibility for their effect when faithfully obeyed. Hesitation, vacillation, or indecision will very materially injure his authority. To give an order and, when it has been obeyed faithfully and failed of the object sought, to blame those who executed it, is to cause his men to lose faith, not only in his ability but in his sincerity. And there is only one thing more damaging to the administration in the minds of the employees than this, and that is to show a lack of faith in their ability and honesty. This will always prove discouraging and cause the men to lose interest in the successful progress of the shop.