Much of the success which attends the management of any business, where help in a subordinate capacity is required, depends upon tact, by which subordinates are made to perform their duties willingly. Many establishments are filled with time-servers, who do their work grudgingly and shirk the moment the eye of their superintendent is off them. Other establishments exhibit, on the contrary, the more beautiful spec tacle of cheerful workers, with faces good humoredly beaming, and whose blows fall harder and more constantly from very lightheartedness. They feel on good terms with their, employers, their superintendents, and their fellow workmen, and thus feeling they must be more efficient than a corps of sulky sour-tempered men whose heart is not in their wcrk, and whose superiors are regarded as their natural enemies. These facts being admitted it is evident, that the superintendent, who, without coming short in other respects, keeps his men in good humor, is better than one who can only keep up a show of subordination by a harshness of i manner which begets a reciprocal feeling in the heart of his inferiors. Such subordination is subordination under protest, a subordination which leads to secret combinations and mut-terings, and is only one step from revolt. It has been justly remarked that the most perfect subordination is that in which the rights of subordinates ars recog-I nized; in which every man has his rights, and knows that any : violation of them can be promptly and surely redressed. A good deal might be said on the rights of subordinates, but ] we shall only touch upon the subject at this time. In the first place every subordinate ought to have the right to defend himself from charges made against him by fellow 1 workmen. How often is it the case that from petty malice a j workman is made the subject of invidious charges, which in-i jure his reputation for skill or his character for honesty. A workman in this trying position should feel that he has an j impartial judge in his superior who will protect him from un- just accusation. I A subordinate has the natural right to expect kindness so long as his conduct merits it. Our sensibilities have often j been shocked by the language we have heard employed by superintendents of large establishments towards inferiors. Swearing at workmen is a far too common vice. Were we to employ a man as a superintendent of a workshop, we should tell him at the outset that swearing at workmen could not be allowed. Any employe feels a sense of degradation from such treatment which injures his self respect and tends to make him vicious and unreliable. The right of an employe to be treated justly and the right I to be treated kindly can never be violated without loss to I both employer and employed. The former loses in the amount and quality of the service performed, the latter loses a cheerful happy temper and the ennobling desire to perform his work in the best manner possible, both as a matter of principle and out of good will to his employer. Good will is worth money. It is an excellent thing to invest in. Its profits cannot be estimated as so much per cent of capital, for its first cost is nothing. Having pointed out two rights, to which all employes are entitled, we shall point out one which many suppose belongs to them, but to which, on the contrary, they have not the slightest claim. This is the fancied right to expect or demand explanations from their superiors, why they are required to perform their work in the manner directed. Any principal of an establishment, when condemning the work of an employe, oi directing him how to perform it, will voluntarily ex-I plain the matter, if he deems such explanation necessary, as j instruction to guide in future work or conduct. It is his in-I terest to do this because he gets better service by doing it If he withholds it, however, that is his business, and his subordinate would be justly subjected to reprimand should he ask in regard to what concerns him not. If he needs instruction that is another matter; but men in active business have too much on their hands to argue with help upon the propriety of \ any course they may have decided upon. An arguing foreman is every bit as unfit for his place as the swearing, browbeating one. He should be a man of decision, and as decision 299 in action is the result only of knowledge, skill, and courage, these qualities will entitle him to respect, if his other qualifications are such as to insure the good will of those under his charge. The choice of a good foreman is one of the most important essentials to success in many kinds of business, and the difference between a good and a bad one is hard to estimate in dollars and cents. He that can be firm with kindness, and just without harshness, has the elements of good leadership. These qualities, joined with knowledge and skill, make a combination of qualities somewhat rare, but when found, sure to be prized and rewarded.
This article was originally published with the title "Employers and Employed"