TRAINING THE FOREMEN OF A MANUFACTURING ORGANIZATION 250063
Industrial development has out-run foreman development, in the author's opinion. He believes that management should be alive to the changed status of the foreman and that it should train him definitely to accept a broader responsibility. Clarification of the situation should start with the assumption that the departmental foreman is to be held definitely responsible for every activity that affects his department; but, obviously, he cannot be given direct authority over certain functionalized services that very directly affect the operation of his department, and he must, therefore, develop that higher type of executive ability which can obtain results without the club of direct authority. In short, instead of conceiving the departmental foreman as the master craftsman of his department, he should be looked upon as the business manager of his department.
Business management, even of a factory department, involves an understanding of many things that the foreman cannot learn thoroughly or systematically in his craftsmanship experience. Business problems usually involve one or more of three elements: technical, economic and the human. Foremen are usually most proficient in the first element and are deficient in the last two. Management generally does not recognize the desirability of training foremen in basic economic principles and in the elements of human reaction.
In planning a foreman-training program, method is initially of much greater importance than text matter. “How” should take precedence over “what.” A receptive attitude on the part of the men to be trained is absolutely essential before training can be effective. Leadership acceptable to the men to be trained is another primary requisite. The training program should be actively sponsored by the highest official whom the foremen recognize as a practical manufacturing man.
Obviously, the lecturers or teachers employed in foreman training must be carefully selected. Their desirable qualifications are outlined, suggestions are made as to text material for a primary foreman-training course. The feasibility of advanced courses to follow the primary course is discussed, the results obtained by foreman training under widely varying conditions are pointed out, and the methods of foreman rating and promotion are touched upon. It is difficult to train men in foremanship after they have become foremen in name. Training should start among candidates for supervisory positions, and foreman apprenticeship is discussed in connection with the “Squad Idea.”