Taylorism was a popular management style in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Specifically, it was popular with people who wanted to find a more efficient way to run workplaces, but it was a very unpopular system with people who actually did the work. While some people may not be familiar with the term itself, some workers will consider time tracking tools to be incarnations of Taylorism. To understand what they’re thinking about, why they think that way and how this can be remedied to allow a better system for an entire workplace – particularly a large workplace – it’s important to understand the human and technological elements of time tracking.
Why Taylorism Failed
The basic tenet of Taylorism was that human beings could be thought of as cogs in a machine. Each one of those cogs had a specific task to perform and, ideally, they should be able to perform as many of those tasks as humanly possible in a given amount of time and, further, they should take as few breaks as possible from their work.
Taylorism also held that the people in upper management were better equipped to make decisions about the work process than people who did the work. The system essentially held that decision-makers are best removed from the process and that the people actually involved in performing work are best relegated to their roles as cogs in the machine.
When a workplace introduces a new time tracking system, people may not reference Taylorism specifically, but they may react as if that is what they are being asked to put up with. They will feel as if every moment of their workday is now being tracked and, in some cases, they may actually end up feeling as if the entire affair is an excuse to get rid of employees who don’t spend every single moment of every single day sweating out their tasks.
Taylorism failed because no human being can be expected to work under those conditions. Human beings are dynamic, creative and need a rest occasionally. A proper time tracking tool – particularly one that is created with modern technology and that is born of the modern understanding of human needs – should be able to accommodate the human element of time tracking and it should be apparent to the people who are being asked to adopt that time tracking technology that their human needs are, in fact, being considered.
Why Time Management Works
Taylorism is actually a form of time management. It is a very lacking form of time management, but it is a form of time management nonetheless. What’s important is to help employees differentiate between the brutal type of time management that was characterized by Taylorism from the modern idea of time management, which is really all about getting things done in a way that is as low stress and as efficient as possible. That is important to get through to employees. Better time management means less stress. Greater efficiency means a happier workplace.
Today’s time management techniques work because they do accommodate this. The technology available for time management today can further accommodate this and make it possible for people to work in a very demanding workplace that requires a great degree of efficiency and to enjoy a very rich and satisfying work life. From the technological end of things, the ability to communicate is – though it may seem rather basic – an important part of why all of this works.
Communication Means Happier Employees
The big drawback to Taylorism was that people were treated as disposable parts of a machine. In today’s workplace, things have become so skill oriented that this outlook will no longer suffice. People not only need to feel appreciated for their work, they need to be able to perform their work properly and that sometimes means that they cannot be expected to work like a machine. A programmer, for instance, needs to get up and away from their work for a while several times during any given day to produce code that is worth the money that clients are paying for it.
Today’s time management tools allow different departments to communicate with one another instantly. If something should change relative to the timing of work being done or, just as a very common example, some but he happens to be sick on a given day and their end of the work is not going to be done as expected, this can be instantly communicated between departments and accommodated for. Rather than a human being being reduced to a cog in a machine, the entire team functions as a machine but each individual part is recognized for its worth and is able to communicate instantly with the rest of the machine so that processes can be put into place to accommodate areas were difficulty may arise.
Not Scaring Employees
Employees that are being asked to use time tracking software should be made aware of this. They should be made aware of the fact that, in addition to increasing the profitability of the business, the time tracking software is there to make it easier for them to do their jobs. Just as one easy example to give to an employee to illustrate the convenience, rather than having to run into their manager’s office, run into the offices of everyone else on their team and so forth, they can communicate that they’re going to be out of the office for a couple of hours longer than expected simply by updating the calendar that everybody shares.
When the project is all completed, the entire team can look back and see where things functioned very efficiently and where they may have been lacking. Rather than putting the blame on any particular employee, this helps the entire team to address weaknesses and to fix them. This is the exact opposite of Taylorism. Rather than the problem always being assessed as one cog in the machine that was not rotating as quickly as it should have, the problem is addressed as one of management, one that can be fixed and one for which there is significant and meaningful data available to help with that fix. This all serves the employees as much as it serves the company.