1908 Graphic: The Man in the Middle. Key to Plan B

After WWI, when management had reverted to pre-war workforce abuse policies, a big fuss was made about giving the MitMs a square deal. When the effort paid off big time, management destroyed the movement. By 1930 the subject matter was completely taken over by academia, where it is still buried.


(Excerpts pro and con from the first twenty-five letters taken in that order from the pile of correspondence from executives of representative companies, large and small, in 1923.)

  1. “We consider the matter of foreman training vital to our production-life and improvement. We fully realize that we do not carry on sufficient effort in this direction.”—Iron and Steel.
  2. “We have had in mind, for some time, to conduct a training school for foremen. We have the matter under consideration now.” —Food.
  3. “The results that we obtained did not quite measure up to what we expected. A possible reason for this is that the depression had a very marked effect upon our plants and what might have otherwise proven to be very beneficial was probably greatly injured by this depression.”—Implements.
  4. “This course was put on in an excellent manner and received the unanimous approval of our management and foremen. We believe that the results obtained were very helpful.”—Textile.
  5. “We feel the direct result of all of our efforts with our foremen has produced a higher grade of factory executive and that it has prepared men to accept positions of greater responsibility.” —Oil Equipment.
  6. “We attempted work along this line several years ago but it did not met with any degree of success. There seemed to be a suspicion on the part of our foremen that these meetings were being conducted for a selfish motive and we finally gave them up.”—Jewelry.
  7. “We had in 1923 and 1924 inaugurated a system of foremen training in all of our plants. The results were most gratifying. The classes were almost 100% attended and at the closing exercise* of these two years it was very noticeable the improvements that developed in our personnel who were fortunate enough to be allowed the privilege.”—Auto Accessories.
  8. “We found this course to be a very profitable one to our company and beneficial to our foremen.”—Confectionery.
  9. “After taking the course we carried on the school for about one year, and the only reason we stopped it was because we just ran out of the proper material.”—Hosiery.
  10. “Undoubtedly every bit of effort applied in this direction has proven of value to us.”—Power transmission machinery.
  11. “The men seemed to be very much interested in it, and we felt that it did good. If I know where I could get hold of something of the same kind to put in again this fall I would be inclined to give it very serious consideration.”— Foundry.
  12. “Our foremen received much good from the course. We expect to use men now in attendance to conduct classes among a group of our Foremen during the coming winter.” —Abrasives.
  13. “Experience has proven beyond question the value of this training both to the men and the company.”— Transportation.
  14. “We feel that this training proved beneficial both in arousing interest on the part of the men and a discussion of their own problems and in knitting them more closely in the personnel of the company.”—Paper.
  15. “We found that the efficiency of our organization was almost immediately improved by undertaking the course. The big thing that appealed to us was the opportunity to put over ideas of loyalty, cooperation and harmony in our entire organization.” —Lumber.
  16. “We find the classes well attended and the foremen generally seem to look upon it as an honor to be invited to “attend school.” Further we are confident that these classes have helped us gain inter-departmental cooperation and in that way has resulted in better production, both as to quality and quantity.”—Fibre.
  17. “While there is no tangible way of measuring results, we believe we have been more than repaid for the effort and expense.”—Railway equipment.
  18. “It was evident that the men benefitted by the course; two of them to such a marked degree that they have since more than paid for the expense of the course in their improved method of handling.”—Electric products.
  19. “The results we obtained were very good and we believe made a decided and lasting impression upon our foremen.”—Leather.
  20. “We feel the work we have done in the past five years in the way of schools for our foremen have been beneficial. However, we also feel we can keep on each year and there will still be room at the top for betterment. Our plan has been modified each year. One foreman in particular has moved up in our organization and is now holding an executive position.” —Machine shop and foundry.
  21. “Our foremen are very much interested, feel that they are being benefited and we are satisfied that the training is adding greatly to the efficiency of these men.”—Metal.
  22. “We feel that the men finishing this course broadened their *intellect and thus became more valuable men to the company.” ‘ —Non-friction bearings.
  23. “We believe that these courses have been of value and interest to all of the members of the organization who have participated <in them.”—Brass products.
  24. “The only course of any kind which we ever attempted to take here was a course by which, however, was not a success as far as our plant is concerned.”—Chemicals.
  25. “We are very well pleased with the outcome of this venture and have found it very instructive and broadening to executives as well as foremen.”—Glass.



From “Factory” Magazine, August, 1923 by John Calder

“The superintendent of the California and Hawaiian Sugar Refining Company attributes this remarkable result in achieving a 40% increase in output to foreman training, which not only enlightened the foremen in modern methods, but also stimulated them to an attitude of full cooperation with the management.

“In one of Swift and Company’s plants a foreman raised the output of his department from 400 units per man to 700 as a result of applying principles learned in his training class.

“The production of the Granite City Rolling Mill of the National Enameling and Stamping Company increased 34% following an extensive program of foreman training.

“The superintendent of the Richards-Wilcox Manufacturing Company said that the personal training of his foremen in 1922 ‘doubled our production efficiency during the year.’

“The Vice-President of the Peerless Woolen Mills recently reported that the production of his plant for the current week was the largest in more than two years, ‘and we are turning out better work as well’—a result which he credited to the foreman training work.

“An executive of the Staten Island Shipbuilding Company reported a 50% reduction of labor turnover in the half-year following a three months session of foreman training.”

Experience has proven that where the management supported foreman training half-heartedly even the best methods have failed. This might be expected. Success in foreman training, as in any other activity in industry, requires more than passive interest—it requires genuine active interest of all of the management, not only at the beginning, but all of the time.

For Success, The Foremen Must be Interested

Considering that the company desires foreman training the next step is to get the foremen actively interested. It is far preferable to have the suggestion for training come from the foremen themselves, and this has occurred in practice. At other times an indirect suggestion from the management has resulted in a spontaneous request for self-improvement offered by training courses.

Getting the Foremen’s Interest

At still other times, while greatly desired by the management, the whole proposition has required a great deal of “selling” to the foremen. Many skillful and tactful ways have been utilized to bring the desired result from the foremen, and for those who have had no experience a representative way is here suggested. By pre-arrangement one or two executives are designated to incidentally suggest such opportunities to one or more “key” foremen during ordinary routine conversation. This seed usually grows and is the subject of further conversation of the “key” foremen with other foremen. The possibilities are excellent that this designated executive will be approached in due time as to the organization of such training. He suggests that the foremen themselves appoint a committee from their own number to study the question, of course, assuring them of cooperation from the management. By this time the subject will have been discussed pretty generally by all of the foremen.

No experience on record shows outstanding success where the foremen were merely informed that a course had been “cut and dried” for them and they were “hereby instructed” to attend. From the practical standpoint how could such an arrangement be successful —yet it has been tried.

Some of the most successful and outstanding efforts have been outlined and formulated by the foremen themselves with the advice and cooperation of representatives from management or other expert assistance. Well laid plans of organization to fit local conditions are essential.

The importance of BEGINNING FOREMAN TRAINING and in “putting it across” is so very important that we believe it worthwhile to quote at some length from actual experiences which may offer suggestions. The first illustration will be that of a large company, and the second a medium sized organization; this will be followed by a brief discussion for the small plant.


(From Pamphlet issued by Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co.)

Plan for Foremen’s Development – Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company

The course began in real earnest, study group leaders being appointed. In selecting the group leaders, we chose those whose previous training was such that they could draw out the best efforts of the groups and coordinate the teachings of the text books used. Results Speak for Themselves

Throughout the length of the course interest was splendidly maintained. Despite the competition of social activities, etc., the average attendance was 85% and at the bi-weekly lectures it ran even higher. Perhaps the most noticeable thing that happened during the study course was the daily comparison of notes amongst those who were taking the course and discussions of the various hypothetical problems given for solution. Coupled with this there was a very apparent effort put forward toward a closer cooperation between the various departments and an obvious determination to apply the principles taught in the textbooks.

The end of the course saw a return of fully 99% of the test papers and of this 99% the great majority came through with a rating of “B.” When the course was completed there was a keen demand on all sides for some sort of continuation of the study plan, and as a result a Production Club was formed whose purpose, according to the by-laws was:

“To conserve and extend interest in the science of industrial management, to apply the principles of this science to the problem of this company through discussion and practice, to form an active and permanent connecting link between management and men, and to establish an association for enjoyment and recreation.”

The Production Club started with a membership of nearly 200 and has kept close to that standard ever since. It may truthfully be said that at the present time the Production Club is one of the most “live” parts of our organization.

To Recapitulate: The success of foremanship training as applied to the medium-sized plant lies in the getting together, the finding of a common foundation upon which to build; this foundation to be understood by everybody —either as the result of special training by text book or study course —and, finally, the discussion of plant problems and policies, those discussions being initiated by the highest executives of the plant.


What has been said above applies to an organization having enough foremen to form a group of its own.

The foremen should understand from the beginning that they must not expect any leader to tell them how to better run the technical side of their departments. The most successful leaders have been those who could lead in the true sense of the word in guiding discussion along constructive lines, in encouraging an exchange of views, and suggesting new viewpoints for the consideration of the foremen.

Where the course is conducted by a central organization for foremen representing varied industries the leader or instructor is probably a more important factor. The situation here requires greater reserve power and natural teaching ability. In some small and medium-sized industries the employment manager, or person in charge of personnel, whatever the title, has direct charge of foremanship. Others use production managers, superintendents, engineering staffs, general managers, and still others use persons trained for this work by the Federal or State Boards for Vocational Education. If a standardized course is obtained from an institution furnishing such service that institution usually furnishes the leader or instructor.

Typical of the companies now employing educational or training directors to supervise foreman training are: Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, American Steel and Wire Company, American Rolling Mill Company, Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company, Riverside and Dan River Cotton Mills, etc.

An instructor, whether drawn from school or industry, should possess rather special qualifications. Among these are:

  1. He should have had a considerable amount of contact with industrial processes, operations, and procedure, if possible in the plants from which the men come.
  2. He should be a good teacher, particularly in his ability to use development methods; that is, he should know how to keep men thinking.
  3. He should be resourceful, active in thought, a “live wire.”
  4. He should be a “good mixer,” informal, yet able to keep control of the work.
  1. Number of meetings depends upon content of course and interest which can be maintained. Close the meetings for vacation before foremen get tired and want to close. A desire for more is the preferable condition with which to close the season.
  2. Intensive conferences as conducted by the Federal Board for Vocational Education usually meet daily. In other courses, usually every week.
  3. From two to three hours is usual practice. Shorter than two is unsatisfactory, and longer brings about fatigue.

Two hours is the preferable length.


It is truly amazing to note in the vast correspondence which the Department of Manufacture has conducted with hundreds of industries on foreman training activities the lack of a definite “follow-up” after a single course had been given. Such lack of planning with regard to material, processes, or equipment would not be tolerated for a minute by these same companies.

It is even more amazing when it is considered that an over whelming majority testify that the individual courses given have paid dividends. A number frankly admitted that they were anxious to continue but “ran out” of material and desired suggestions, others that they simply neglected, in favor of exigencies arising in the immediate past, what they conceded to be an important function but one seemingly easy to postpone.

As mentioned earlier in this treatise many of the state departments of vocational education in cooperation with the Federal Board for Vocational Education (see appendix) are equipped to initiate foreman training by the intensive conference method extending through a period of two weeks.

Foreman Enlightenment Topics

  1. Analyzing Yourself
  2. Development of Personality
  3. Effective Leadership
  4. Importance of Observation
  5. Investigation Before Conclusions
  6. Decision vs. Snap Judgment
  7. Tact and Diplomacy
  8. Resourcefulness
  9. Originality
  10. Inventive Ability
  11. Imagination
  12. Enthusiasm —Is it Contagious?
  13. Adaptability to Conditions
  14. Does Ambition Produce Initiative?
  15. Openmindedness
  16. Willingness to Accept Suggestions
  17. Systematic or Haphazard
  18. Physical Fitness
  19. Mental Alertness
  20. Example of Character
  21. Forming Habits
  22. Utilizing Time
  23. The Foreman’s Responsibility
  24. Analysis of Job
  25. Knowing Men
  26. Developing Men
  27. Developing Interest
  28. Training Workers
  29. Starting the New Man
  30. Getting Team-Work
  31. Labor Turnover
  32. Safety and Accident Prevention
  33. Maintaining Discipline
  34. Attendance
  35. Orders —Directions —Suggestions
  36. Securing and Using Suggestions
  37. Coaching an Understudy
  38. Service— What is it?
  39. The Working Force
  40. The System and the Worker
  41. Labor and Production
  42. Loyalty to Management and to Men
  43. Honesty and Square Dealing
  44. The Foreman and Labor
  45. The Foreman and Management
  46. The Foreman and Industrial Service
  47. The Foreman and the Social Order
  48. The Foreman and the Law
  49. The Foreman and Inspection
  50. The Foreman and Waste
  51. The Foreman as an Instructor
  52. The Foreman as a Supervisor
  53. The Foreman as a Leader
  54. Knowledge of Position and Job
  55. Basic Factors in Production
  56. The Foreman and Storekeeping
  57. The Foreman and the Inventory
  58. The Foreman and Costs
  59. The Foreman and Production
  60. Methods of Getting Production
  61. Flow of Work
  62. Departmental Relationships
  63. Loss Through Spoiled Work
  64. Keeping Equipment in Order
  65. Records and Reports
  66. Improving Workmanship
  67. Receiving and Storing Material
  68. Issuing Material
  69. Movement of Material
  70. Care of Material
  71. Fabricating Material
  72. Our Labor Policy
  73. Employment —Right Man on Right Job
  74. Wage Policy
  75. Wages and Incentives
  76. Non-Wage Incentives
  77. Time Study
  78. Setting of Rates
  79. Rating Employees
  80. Promotion
  81. Discharge or Transfer — Which?
  82. First Aid
  83. An Attractive Place to Work
  84. Man and Materials
  85. Man and Machine
  86. Buying—Storing —Producing
  87. Management’s Responsibilities
  88. The Art of Management
  89. Organization of the Company
  90. Products of the Company
  91. Making the Organization Effective
  92. General Factory Equipment
  93. Working Machinery to Capacity
  94. Providing Machinery with Power
  95. What is Purpose of Planning
  96. Manufacturing Costs
  97. Selling Costs

Typical Topics in Practical Economics

  1. Industry Yesterday —Today —Tomorrow
  2. Industrial World, A system
  3. Trends in Organization and Specialization
  4. Labor Saving Machinery
  5. How is Business Financed?
  6. Sources of Material
  7. What Production Is and What it Produces
  8. Factors in Production
  9. Production and the H. C. L.
  10. What is Included in Overhead
  11. Problems of Distribution
  12. Law of Demand and Supply
  13. Business Enterprise and Profit
  14. Economics of Our Business
  15. Competition and Monopoly
  16. Price, the Basis of Industry
  17. How Our Product is Marketed

Credit and Banking

  1. Thrift—Investment —Personal Finance
  2. The Source of all Capital Savings
  3. Why Banks are Indispensable
  4. Stocks—Bonds—Brokers
  5. Speculation vs. Investment
  6. The Ups and Downs of Business
  7. Governmental Regulations and Requirements
  8. Labor Movements
  9. The Foreman’s Place in Industry

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