The man who succeeds most easily is the man who couples with a knowledge of his business, a pleasing personality and an ability to make and hold friends. There are undoubtedly many successes won by sheer will-force or by cold, clear intellect. But most of us must succeed with only ordinary talents, and it is successful methods that we desire to discover.
At the present time factories are not having the success which the managers desire. Causes outside their control have raised Wages and have influenced efficiency negatively. There has resulted such a general state of unrest that the manufacturers, recognizing a condition needing correction, have set up Committees on Industrial Relations. The appointment of such a committee is an admission of the vital importance of the relations between employer, executive, foremen and workmen. In truth, it is just as important to keep these relations sweet as it is to keep the equipment up to date, the product quality high, and the sales healthy.
The whole problem becomes one not of mechanics, chemistry or commerce, but pne far more complex, the problem of human nature. In the past the possession of clear knowledge regarding human nature was comparatively rare, but today there is no excuse for continued ignorance about other people, whether employees, friends or strangers, and it is going to become imperative that factory managers understand the truth about Industrial Relationship as clearly, if not more clearly, than they do any other phase of their work.
Let us go back now to the first statement made, that for individual success, a pleasing personality and ability to make and hold friends are just as necessary as is knowledge of a profession. The solution is just the same for a factory, for what is true of the elements singly is true for the elements organized. A man does not lose his human qualities just because he works in a shop and it is that Lath which must be pounded home. Therefore, that shop is most likely to succeed which is pleasant to work in and which holds your ‘loyalty through a personal interest. When it is a pleasure to produce and when it is a spontaneous act to stick by one’s employers in a tight spot, then the Industrial Relations are sound.
Mow are such relations to be built up? Exactly the same as an individual builds up pleasant personal relations with others, by continued, sincere, patient effort on his part alone. He understands that good-will, frendship and assistance are not obtained by force, adroitness or purchase, but by the attraction of good for good. It is an universal truth that you receive what you give out. Also you cannot get something for nothing.
When a man gains a host of loyal friends he does it by personal interest, sympathy, good cheer, helpful advice and back of it all a sincerity that shines from him like a light. He builds up about him an atmosphere that makes him welcome anywhere anytime. He knows happiness, much is done for him, he does not know fear, and all so simply brought about. Simply a knowledge of a few truths and a change of heart: where things came with a wrench, they begin to come of their own accord.
You might gather from the foregoing that it is to be understood that Factory Management stands accused of incompetency. Such is not so. Factory Management today stands in a critical position, because changed conditions have forced it to alter methods or fail. The world is arriving at a stage in which intercommunication has made it almost impossible for one man to ignore the rest. The handwriting is on the wall, only this time it points this way.
Now I am not advocating any profit-sharing plan, not any system such as the so-called Industrial Democracy, in which a sort of Workers’ Council has a voice in the operation of the plant. What I do adocate and defend is a closer personal relationship between the executive and every one of his men. Too many Factory Managers allow, or prefer to have, a mass of paper work keep them tied hand and foot to their desks, and if it is necessary to take up matters with the factory, to call a conference at which the atmosphere is seldom free enough to allow the ordinary man to dare to express aloud what he thinks.
Such long distance management is out of date and men who in the future will have a well balanced shop will spend more time among his men and machines than he will at his desk. It has been my lot to have worked on “both sides of the fence,’’ and 1 have learned what makes a man work and work cheerfully, also what builds up the faith that makes a workman loyal. 1 also know what the things.are that break a workman’s spirit and make him want to seek a position with another concern.
By this time you have most of you begun to see that the solution of the matter of Better Industrial Relations is less a matter of wages and welfare work and more a matter of character. The man who accepts this plan of mixing more with his men must be willing to be read through and through. His workmen are most of them intelligent enough to know whether he is sincere in what he is doing or not. They will know whether he is doing it for his own good alone, or for the good of all. They will read in a flash if his personal contact with them is distasteful. They will be either cheered and encouraged when he walks away, or they will wish he had not come near them.
The chances are, however, that you will find your men good fellows, big-hearted, ready to work hard for the boss who is a fine fellow himself. They will get to miss you when something interrupts your visits, they will thrash out with you right on the ground their room problems and show you many and many an impiovement you would never hear about otherwise.
Why is it that the sudden presence of a certain general on the battlefield changed the tide from rout to victory? Why is it that some establishments have less industrial unrest than others? It is due to spirit, spirit generated by character, read clearly by soldiers and by workmen.
If military and commercial victory can be gained so easily by the character and actions of the leaders, let us go in strong for more and more of such leadership and Industrial Relations will need very little study.
This article was found among Mr. C. H. Stilson’s papers after his death. He was evidently preparing it for future use. It is published as it stands, rather than with any attempt at revision or expansion, in the feeling that it thus best expresses Mr. Stilson’s views on this important subject.
This article was dated July 31st, 1919.
Scoville Mfg. Co., Bulletin for February 20, and this from the Bulletin for December, 1919:
CLARENCE H. STILSON.
Clarence H. Stilson passed away at his home at Short Beach at 1:30 a. m., December 18th, 1919, after a brief absence from his desk at the plant, although he had not been well for some time.
Mr. Stilson came to the Scovill Manufacturing Company in 1905 in the capacity of cost accounting clerk, and his rare genius and ability in this line soon developed an extensive and valuable system.
The passing of Mr. Stilson removes a prominent figure in the business activities of the Company. Mr. Stilson has been associated with the publication of The Scovill Mfg. Co. Bulletin since its beginning.
To know him intimately was to know a triend, ever guided by his conscience to do the right as he saw it.