Charles Darwin is famously known to have quoted “The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man” (Charles Darwin – Oxford Reference, 2016). This quote resonated with me as not only as a manager, but also as a human being as I firmly believe empathy is the most essential characteristic in one’s personality. Humanistic management incorporates human characteristics and its need in job design. Mary Follet believed in the existence of a strong relationship between business operations and human relations and argued that social, ethical and economic problems were all covered in one macro concept: human problems (Mele, 2003). Traditionally, early management theorists believed that higher efficiency would be reached in an organization when scientific methods were adopted (Wilson, 2018, p91). Taylor believed applying a science behind management through specific rules and principles lead to maximum efficiency (Taylor, 1911). In this paper, I will argue that the importance of humanistic management is more prevalent in new-age businesses revolving around the current digital era, but also highlight the relationship scientific management methods has with higher levels of efficiency. Additionally I will discuss their prevalence in industries, whether adopted solely or together. I will firstly, define the ideologies of humanistic and scientific management and then compare the two with read-world examples. Secondly, I will draw on personal experiences as a manager and discuss the use of these managerial philosophies and their effectiveness at the workplace to finally conclude whether one managerial philosophy is superior to the other in today’s work environment, or a mixture of the two holds superiority, drawing from personal experiences as a manager.
In the early 1900’s, giant players in the automobile industry exemplified the use of both managerial methods: Scientific and Humanistic and displayed how both can be successfully applied, when the methods align with the company’s value and mission statement. Henry Ford and Enzo Ferrari’s ideologies in organizational structure displayed a unique example of contrast between theories of Scientific and Humanistic Management being applied successfully in the automobile industry. Henry Ford is a famous incorporator of Taylor’s theories on Scientific Management through his innovations in moving assembly line production, in order to mass-produce cars in the least possible amount of time; reducing the time of assembly from 12 to 3 hours and allowing millions of cars to be produced each year in maximum efficiency. He believed that standardization and a systematic approach was the key to achieving maximum efficiency and output (Ford, 2002). Even though numerous automobile companies adopted Fords methods, Enzo Ferrari adopted a contrasting approach to his organizations’ structure. Enzo had a specific employee working on a specific part for a car. Each part required a special skillset to design, which was employed to a specific human resource and would be finally be assembled part-by-part in order to produce the highest quality of product. Due to this, their output on number of cars produced per year has been historically lower, as the organization valued quality over quantity (Ferrari, 2019). Ford and Ferrari were giants in the automobile industry, but both applied contrasting management and operational theories in structuring their organizations. This comparison is important because it highlights the fact that one theory does not hold superiority to another, rather, both theories can be beneficial in the same industry, if it aligns with the company’s values and objectives.
Being a 22-year-old entrepreneur in a culturally traditional workplace environment such as India, I faced many barriers when structuring my start-up organic dairy products company and identifying which managerial ideology to adopt: scientific management, humanistic management ideologies, or a mixture of the two. The goal was to employ resources and talent for each department that had suffice work experience on the subject, as I was diving into a new field. Initially, I decided to give myself a role in which my expertise could thrive, rather than managing all sectors in a holistic way: a general manager role. That being said, I had close to no work-experience previous to this role, therefore I placed myself as Head of Customer Relations, because of my strengths in communication and people skills. This decision made me realize that I have to adopt a Humanistic management approach to the company, as I required human resources with specific skills and experience to overlook certain verticals and departments. In contrast, I adopted a few ideas and theories from the school of scientific management to increase productivity and efficiency. The company ran systematically in many ways, as we conducted weekly review meetings, expected weekly sales, stock and delivery reports and ran bi-hourly checks on the bike delivery team. The systematic approach showed increases in efficiency especially when applied to the bike delivery team, which consisted of employees with limited work experience, ranging from age 17 to 22. Initially, I allowed freedom in the workplace; no requirement of uniform and a target based reporting system, where they only reported delivery numbers and customer escalations at the end of each day. After numerous delivery fulfillment complaints, unsophisticated attire and general tardiness, it was decided that a systematic approach was necessary in order to increase output from the delivery team.
“in business and government…no skill is valued more highly than the ability to recognize a problem, then to articulate it in a way that convinces others both to care about it and to believe it can be solved, especially by you.” (Booth, et al, pg.65).
This quote exemplifies the actions that were taken in finding a solution to this ongoing problem with the delivery team and executing the same, in order to achieve better efficiency and job satisfaction. I incorporated a QR code system, where each delivery for milk was confirmed through a QR code scan, which each delivery employee could process with his or her company smartphone. Additionally, each area-based delivery team leader would collect bi-hour reports from each employee to submit a final report to top management at the end of the day, and were subjected to target based incentive bonuses. This approach negated the required skillset and standardized each driver’s role in the delivery team, which lead to higher efficiency and lower customer escalations. Similarly, the employees in the distribution and order fulfiment centers were subjected to scientific management approaches. In this sector, standardization was more important than the requirement of unique skillsets. Maximum productivity was achieved only when employees followed certain schedules and processes. That being said, I adopted a few humanistic approaches by adding work benefits such as a fitness center, dining options and team building workshops for employees to step out of the repetitive mundane nature of the job. This “break” from the monotonous work displayed high levels of satisfaction and lower complaints from employees in the distribution and order fulfillment sector. This was important to me as big conglomerates such as Amazon had workers placed in terrible conditions that were inhumane; Employees were forced to urinate in bottles as they were not given suffice breaks, and were not able to complain as there was no direct channel to communicate with the top management team (Drury, 2019). The top management team did not require such an approach and were given freedom to work in their desired format, as long as they were, with the only requirement of meeting their targets. This included human resources and talent achieving their maximum potential with over 30 years of experience in the FMCG, consultation, retail, and management sectors, classifying them as experienced “self-actualized” employees (Maslow, 1970). Due to the mass gap in age, the other members of the team and I would often clash in decision-making due to ideological differences. The company’s brand name and logo took over 6 weeks to decide on, as member(s) would have a new objection in each brainstorming session. When decision-making would come to a standstill, the team with the highest amount of experience in the subject made the final call, as we trusted in their skillset and experience. Majority of start-ups with fewer than 50 employees tend to employ a humanistic approach, as special skillsets are required to achieve the company’s mission. Dairy companies such as Nestle and Fonterra apply a more systematic approach due to their vast range of departments and number of human resources in each sector, but also incorporate humanistic management theories in their organizational structure. This is evident in Fonterra’s careers page, where they highlight the importance of knowledge and people with regards to returns to business. This highlights Fonterra’s recognition for the importance of knowledge that is within each employee and its impact on greater returns and output. This ideology resonated with my values for the organization as we were learning new ideas and applications through new resources acquired, in order to grow and compete as new players in the dairy and food/beverage industry. This made my confidence rise with regards to incorporating a mixture of the two ideologies, as different sectors demanded different managerial methods for higher output.
In conclusion, from personal experiences as a manager, I found that adopting a mixture of scientific and humanistic management methods lead to higher levels of efficiency, as each department required a different managerial approach. This paper has argued that one theory does not hold superiority to the other, but rather both ideologies can be effective, especially when incorporated together in order to achieve higher levels of efficiency, output and work satisfaction.
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