Selecting and handling men is of much more significance to-day
than ever before in the history of the world --the more so as organizations have increased in size and scope and the individual employee is farther removed from the head and assigned greater responsibilities.
It is not a difficult task to build and equip a factory, to choose and stock a store. The problems of power and its transmission come nearer solution every day. Physics and chemistry have revealed the secrets of raw materials. For any given service, the manufacturer can determine the cheapest and most suitable metal, wood, or fabric which will satisfy his requirements, and the most economical method of treating it.
Of the elements involved in production or distribution, the human factor is to-day the most serious problem confronting the business man. The individual remains to be studied, trained, and developed--to be brought up to the standard of maximum results already reached by materials and processes.
Few employers can gather a force of effi-
cient workers and keep them at their best. Not only is it difficult to select the right men but it is even harder to secure top efficiency after they are hired. Touching this, there will be no dispute. Experts in shop management go even farther. F. W. Taylor, who has made the closest and most scientific study, perhaps, of actual and potential efficiency among workers, declares that:--
``_A first-class man can, in most cases, do from two to four times as much as is done on the average_.''
``This enormous difference,'' Mr. Taylor goes on to say, ``exists in all the trades and branches of labor investigated, from pick- and-shovel men all the way up the scale to machinists and other skilled workmen. The multiplied output was not the product of a spurt or a period of overexertion; it was simply what a good man could keep up for a long term of years without injury to his health, become happier, and thrive under.''
Ask the head of any important business what is the first qualification of a foreman
or manager, and he will tell you ``ability to handle men.''
_Men who know how to get maximum results out of machines are common; the power to get the maximum of work out of subordinates or out of yourself is a much rarer possession_.
Yet this power is not necessarily a sixth sense or a fixed attribute of personality. It is based on knowledge of the workings of the other man's mind, either intuitive or acquired. It is the purpose of this and succeeding chapters to consider some of the aspects of human nature that can be turned to advantage in the cultivation of individual efficiency and the elimination of lost motion and wasted effort.
In a thousand instances, in factory and market place, unrecognized use has been made of the principles of psychology by business men to influence other men and to attain their ends.
_For the science of psychology is in respect to certain data merely common sense, the wisdom of experience, analyzed, formulated, and codified_.
_It has taken its place, alongside physics and chemistry, as the ally and employee of trade and industry_.
The time has come when a man's knowledge of his business, if the larger success is to be won, must embrace an understanding of the laws which govern the thinking and acting of the men who make and sell his products as well as those others who buy and consume them.
The achievements of the human mind and the human body seem to many to be out of the range of possible improvement through application of any science which deals with these human activities. Muscular strength and mental efficiency seem to be fixed quantities not subject to increase or improvement.
_The contention here supported, however, is that human efficiency is a variable quantity which increases and decreases according to law. By the application of known physical laws the telephone and the telegraph have supplanted the messenger boy. By the laws of psychology applied to business equally astounding improvements are being and will be secured_.
Employers sometimes find that their men are not working well, that they loaf and kill time on every possible occasion.