Is a 100 Per Cent Workman Possible?

MR. KINGSTON entered the employ of the O. S. L. railroad at Idaho Falls, August 8, 1922, as a carman.  He was promoted to acting mechanical foreman at Silver Bow, August 8 1926, and on November 3 of the same year was made acting care foreman at Idaho Falls. One year later he was permanently assigned to this position, in which capacity he served until June 1, 1929.  This position being abolished, at that time, he was appointed to the newly created post of lead car inspector, his present position.

Is a 100 Per Cent Workman Possible?

Yes, Says This Writer Who Believes the Necessary Qualities Are Within the Reach of Every Craftsman and With Reasonable Effort May Be Acquired By All -- Uses Unique Method of Rating Men.

By C. W. Kingston
Lead Car Inspector, U.P. System, Idaho Falls, Idaho

For the purpose of this paper, one hundred percent attainment in working efficiency does not necessarily mean perfection.  It means the highest point it is possible for the average man to reach by putting forth his best effort and utilizing his ability fully toward the accomplishment of his ideal.

To make this discussion as concrete as possible, I shall present it in the form of a score card, allowing a certain number of points for each quality desired in a good workman, all these points totaling 100.  This plan of scoring would apply to any workman, no matter how important or how lowly his job.

Some may differ with me over the order in which I place the qualities on my score card. I personally feel that these points are all of such prime importance that none of them can be considered as "first" but that each should be held equally in mind.

A Job Well Done Being Essential

Accordingly, I have placed on my card first in order the general and quite inclusive specification, A Job Well Done in Every Detail.  To this achievement I am giving a value of 55 points and will so credit each man who does his particular job in a thoroughly workmanlike manner.

Then I would look over the man's work carefully, and if he has done other jobs which he has not been told to do, and to which he has called the foreman's attention and has been authorized to do, I would add another five points to his score.

Next I would observe the amount of time consumed in the various operations. If the time required was equivalent to or less than that put in on the average by a good workman on like jobs, I would raise the score of my man five more points.

The fourth factor to be considered is whether our hypothetical workman has reported a full and complete list of materials used in his operations. The record would also classify the material as new or used, as the case might be, and would show the correct stock number and reference.  Having filled the bill in this regard, he would receive five additional points.

I would next look around on the ground to see if the scrap has been taken care of.  If there are no tools left where they might be lost or pieces of material or waste scattered about where the work has been done, the man's score would be moved up to seventy-five percent, all told.

By this time, the thought may occur to some, "You have surely underscored this fellow; he sounds about perfect already."  But let us examine his case a little more closely.  Let us check over his tools and find if they are all on hand, and if so, whether they are all well kept and safe to work with.  If they are up to standard in these respects, the man gets five more points on his score-card.

The safety factor must also be considered in each case.  We therefore observe our man in action, to see if he is in the habit of avoiding chances that might result in injury to himself or to his fellow workmen.  If he has formed habits of thinking and acting safely, I would move him up another notch nearer the top, giving him a score of eighty-five percent.

The remaining fifteen percent necessary for the one hundred percent man, is locked up within the man.  To properly evaluate him therefore on our three remaining essentials, I would get as near to my man as possible, drawing information from what I learned of his heart side.  I would watch his little actions and habits in his daily activities, things that are true indices of the real inner man.  I would endeavor to find if he maintained a constructive attitude toward his job and his employer.  I would try to ascertain if he voluntarily thought about the interest of the institution that furnishes the means by which he prospers, if he is careful with material or if he conserves his own and others' time.  I would want to know if he, along with his supervisory officers, takes pride in the upkeep and appearance of the buildings and grounds.  If he meets all these conditions, I would feel he is entitled to another five-point credit.

What other essentials are there in the equipment of our ideal workman?  I should certainly say that one of these would be the man's disposition to learn all he can from every available source about his own job and related jobs, with the intention of becoming a more excellent workman as time goes on.  If he is a fellow who consistently makes a reasonable effort along the lines of self-improvement and self-advancement, he would receive the customary five points for his quality.

And last, but by no means least, I should want to know if he is genial and kind, honest and unselfish in his attitude toward his fellow workers, ready at all times to assume his share of work -- and just a little more if necessary -- ready also to shoulder responsibility and to take the blame for his own mistakes and to learn from them.  Should he reach expectations in this regard -- and such an achievement is not an impossibility for any man -- I should mount him at the very top, with that to be envied score of 100, rating him a truly ideal workman.

The Completed Score

Summing up our score card in a condensed form, it would appear about as follows:

  • Performance of a Workmanlike Job .. 55%
  • Exceeding Foreman's Instructions ........5%
  • Job Executed in Good Time ........................5%
  • Reporting Work Correctly ............................5%
  • Cleaning Up After Job ....................................5%
  • Good Set of Tools Well Kept .......................5%
  • Working Safely ....................................................5%
  • Attitude Toward Work ....................................5%
  • Desire to Advance .............................................5%
  • Attitude Toward Fellow Workers ............5%

         Total .......................................................................100%

I am sure all will agree that in this score card we have set no marks that the average man cannot attain, if a reasonable amount of effort is put forth to the ends named.

The original article was published in The Union Pacific Magazine -- September 1929.

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