The training needs of industrial foremen : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology at Massey University

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Massey University
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This thesis reports the results of three interrelated studies relevant to the work and training of foremen. Training programmes for foremen which are based on traditional leadership research have not resulted in changes to objective performance outcomes. A review of the literature on observation studies of foreman's work suggested a Model of effective foreman behaviour. This model was tested in Study I, using data obtained from a continuous observation record of the work behaviours of nine foremen in one New Zealand plant. Correlations between work behaviours and four measures of performance outcome - productivity, turnover, absenteeism and accident rate - failed to provide support for the model. Two multidimensional scaling solutions were constructed to discover the underlying dimensions of behaviour. These also failed to correlate significantly with any of the performance criteria. It was concluded that no one model of effective behaviour could be prescribed for all foremen as the foremen's behaviour was largely under the control of the production system. It was also concluded that levels of performance outcomes were under the control of the production system, rather than under the control of the foremen's behaviour. However the study did identify one critical aspect of all foremen's jobs,-the Pacing Factor, which was simulated with an in-basket exercise in Study II. The simulation and a training exercise were pilot tested with thirty five trainees from supervisory courses. A three-group experimental design failed to indicate significant improvements to performance following a short training session, but post-hoc validity for the simulation was provided by one group of experienced trainees scoring significantly higher than the other groups. In a third study, five of the foremen from Study I completed the in-basket exercise. These foremen rated it as a realistic simulation of their jobs and their mean score was higher than that for the less experienced supervisory trainees. Ideas for the future development of the in-basket exercise and its use in training are outlined.
Supervisors, Industrial, Supervision of employees, Study and teaching