THE JOB LOOKS FOR THE MAN
J. L. RUTLEDGE
THE vice-president leaned back comfortably in his chair. To-night he might be on his way to the Atlantic to settle some out-cropping difficulty. This afternoon, even, he might be crowded up against some tangle; faced with the need of quick and momentous decisions. At the moment there was no such demand. He sat back comfortably; there was time to ruminate on an abstract problem.
"It is easier.” said the vice-president, following out an argument, "to build five hundred miles of railway than it is to develop the superintendent capable of running it.” Some dozen or more years ago. a sober professor of economics, addressing a class of not too interested students. said about the same thing.
"Capital.” he said, "always increases faster than managerial -
A D MacTier. vice-president of Eastern Lines of the Canadian Pacific Railway, came to this judgment, from long years of looking for men to manage these miles of railroad. S. J. McLean, who later left the university for the Board of Railway Commisssioners, stated an abstract economic fact.
Striking statements, both; striking and sobering thoughts: that human ingenuity can create matterial things faster than human example and instruction can develop men to handle successfully the work of other men's hands.
The phrase. "The Problem of the Railways,” has grown of late to be a hackneyed, moss-grown thing: demagogue, publicist and politician have all used it to their own ends, but probably the soundest understanding of this problem would bring us back to these opening phrases. For the railway problem is essentially a problem of men, or of lack of men. or of the need for men of the right calibre. There is no problem
facing the railways to-day, or ever _
likely to face them that can't or couldn’t be mastered by the right
man. That there is, indeed, a problem to-day, larger than the mere matter of operation, is probably due to the fact that in past years the right men were not always found.
In the great years of railroad expansion, when lines where creeping forward in every direction, there were more miles of rail laid than there were men developed. Perhaps in the fever of building too little thought was given to personnel. However that may be, there was the constant need of able executives to administer all these new miles of shining rails, and it was not always possible to find men of the measure of the job.
Or it may be that it went back even farther than that, It may he that the right men were not only needed to manage, but also to prevent. There may have been times when some five hundred miles of rail should not have been built. It may be that men were needed not only after, but before the fact. But whatever the problem, at the back of it alw ays w-as the human factor. The railways built their material assets faster than they could develop the far more vital asset of human management.
The Period of Testing
Bí T while this is true of the railroads, it is not well for TJ other industries to sit back in pharisaic satisfaction. It is equally true of almost every other business.
The war years, with their intensive need for so many commodities, produced a condition that was described as a '‘seller's market.” It was easy to sell, all that was needed was to produce, and so industries grew beyond the confines of their old surroundings. Great factories crept out from a nucleus of smaller buildings: business boomed because business was easy'. But the war came to an end and, with that ending, came a period of testing. The men who had built these great factories were not, in every case, capable of adapting themselves to the
new conditions. They' had done one thing successfully, hut they had not considered that changed conditions would mean a new policy, and that men must be developed who would be capable of formulating this policy.
In the rush and fever of those days of producing for an eager market, few found time to think of this, and so many factories became idle and useless.
Not so long ago a large Canadian merchantile establishment failed. It had many years of honorable and successful business behind it, hut it failed, and failed dis-
E. \Y. BEATTY .............. 24
SIR HENRY THORNTON ... 23
S. J. HUNGERFORD ........ 14
\V. R. MACINNES ........... 15
J. E. DALRYMPLE .......... 14
A. D. MACTIER ............. 19
GRANT HALL .......... ... 20
\Y. D. ROBB ................ 13
I. C. OGDEN ................ 25
GERALD RUEL ............. 37
D. C. COLEMAN ............ 20
MAJ. GRAHAM BELL ....... 26
R. C. VAUGHAN ............ 14
J. J. SCULLY ............... 20
CHAS. MURPHY ............ 18
C. G. BOWKER ............ 17
C. E. E. USSHER ............ 17
H. H. MELANSON ........... 15
SIR G. McL. BROWN ....... 22
C. B. FOSTER .............. 19
VY. B. LANIGAN ............ 20
E. N. TODD ................. 16
ln the accompanying table of Canadian railway executives, the second column gives the age at which these men entered the railway service; the third, their first occupation with the railway; fourth, their present position; and fifth, the age at which this position was attained.
asst, law dept....... President, C.P.R.
draftsman .......... President, C.N.R
machinist app....... Vice-Pres. C.N.R
clerk ............... Vice-Pres.
clerk .............. Vice-Pres.
stenographer ....... Vice-Pres.
machinist app....... Vice-Pres.
apprentice .......... Vice-Pres.
accountant .......... Vice-Pres.
lawyer .............. Vice-Pres.
clerk ............... Vice-Pres.
Railway P. 0....... Vice-Pres.
junior clerk ........ Director of Purchases C.N.R.
clerk .............. Gen. Mgr. Eastern Lines C.P.R
operator ........... Gen. Mgr. Western Lines C.P.R
telegrapher ......... Mgr. Eastern Div. C.N.R.....
clerk ............... Gen. Pass. Traffic Mgr., C.P
clerk ............... Pass. Traffic Mgr. C.N.R.....
passenger agent .... European Gen. Mgr. C.P.R. . . .
stenographer ....... Passenger Traffic Mgr. C.P.R. .
telegrapher ......... Gen. Freight Traffic Mgr. C.P.R
junior clerk ........ Freight Traffic Mfg. C.P.R.
astrously. It is an easy thing to lay the blame on the present management, and there the blame must lie; but not all the blame. That business had been built by a man with merchandising genius. When that man died, many years ago, it seemed as though the business would carry on with its own momentum. But years bring changes, and momentum will not last forever. And this failure of the moment might perhaps trace itself back to a man, dead these many years, who could not see the need for other men as able as himself. One man had vision enough to build, but not enough to safeguard.
Quite recently a large advertising agency found itself faced with the loss of one of its chief executive officers. It was a position paying a high salary, one which plenty of men would eagerly have accepted. But the president of that concern, looking at the advertising field, remarked to an acquaintance: “I don’t know where to look for a man for that place.” There was nobody who stood out as ready and fitted to take up the work.
Sir Joseph Flaveiie, in a recent address, told how a number of men interested in the packing business had come to him for his advice on a proposed amalgamation of their businesses. Each of them had been moderately successful in his own small venture, but they foresaw greater opportunities in a united front. Sir Joseph looked over the scheme and found it well-planned and sound. Finally he asked: “Who is going to manage this concern?”
“We are,” came the united answer.
When they had left, Sir Joseph turned to his old chief, William Davies, who was present. “It’s a good plan,” he
said, “a very good plan—but they will fail.”. They had thought of every consideration but the vital one of management. They had arranged every detail, except the primary one, as to who should be definitely in command. They were not without men with ability, but they had a job to which they had not apportioned one man, and, as Sir Joseph foretold, within a few years that promising concern had locked its doors.
The banks, because of the highly-centralized character of their business, are not perhaps faced with exactly the same problem. The general manager of one of the largest banks, however, states that when they have positions to fill, positions representing a salary of four to five thousand dollars, they are often faced with a problem in finding these men. There are men available perhaps, but they must be taken from other positions of trust that must themselves be filled. They, too, find the need for men of character and ability.
These concerns, and many others, have in one way and another out-stepped their manpower. For, “Capital,” as the onetime professor of economics stated, “always increases faster than managerial ability.” And whether your capital is in money, or trackage, or expanding plant, or even in undeveloped business, the factor of human management is still the vital thing.
A year ago, a prominent newspaper, with a commendable eye for its own best interests, originated the business slogan, “1922 will reward fighters.” It was a good slogan, for people who need slogans as a spur, but it represented only a half truth. For 1922 rewarded, and 1923 and 1924 will reward, the men who in 1916 and 1917 were thinking and planning and preparing for 1922 and 1923. That is the teaching of experience. The reward is always to the men _ who are prepared for the job.
“There are plenty of young men,” says A. D. MacTier, “who would be willing to take a superintendent’s position; plenty who seem to believe that they have a God-given right to stand at the top. But men who are prepared to work for it, to put their hearts into the task, to reach out for work, and more work, to take on tasks that seem beyond their strength—these are few enough.”
“The most fascinating part of my own work,” he continued, “is that it brings me into touch with men; that it brings with it the need for finding men. We are always looking for someone who edges himself just a little ahead of the crowd, who shows some special aptitude, who sees in more work an opening opportunity, who is not always asking for more time and less work, but is seeking for more work to fill his time. There are always plenty of chances, but there aren’t always men to take advantage of them. Our problem is never to find a job for a man. There are jobs a-plenty, but to find men for the jobs, that is a real problem. The jobs are always ready ahead of the men.”
A Job For the Trained
IT WAS only a few minutes later in a railway employment department, that a man was asking that a young friend of his might be given a place in the railway service, as a clerk. “He’s a good stenographer,” said the applicant.
“I can use him,” came the prompt reply. “We’ve got clerks, plenty of them, but we need some that know stenography. We’ve got a place for them.”
“If you’ve got chances for stenographers, and if you’ve
got plenty of clerks, why don’t your clerks learn?” It seemed strange to this m an that chances should go a-begging. The employment man shook his head. “Don’t want to," he said. "They think if they k n e w stenography
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they would have to do more work. Perhaps they would—I don’t know. But see —a superintendent or a vice-president or someone has to go out on the road— wants a secretary—that boy has to be able to work, but he gets his chance. He gets to know things, sees the work done— is on the job. That’s the way most of these railroad men started. They understudied someone else who was doing the thing. But some of these fellows don’t see that. They only see that if they learn a little more, they may have to do a little more, take a little more responsibility and then they’re afraid someone will push them into a place that will compel them to do still more. They’re satisfied. They don’t want to be pushed by their jobs—they are willing to work a little under their capacity. No use trying to find places for men of that sort, they don’t want them.”
Think back to a little incident in the life of Grant Hall, of the C. P. R. Some yardmen in a western yard had been discharged for a breach of the company’s rules. The yard-master, knowing that they were good men, asked that they be re-instated. He got a very definite statement from Mr. Hall, then general manager, that this could not be. A little while later there arose a dispute in that yard over the discharge of the assistant yardmaster for drunkenness, and the switchmen went on strike. The wheat rush was on and the yards were crowding up. Given a few hours of inactivity they would be in a hopeless tangle that would take days to unravel, days that counted in many dollars. Then the yard-master remembered the men the general manager had refused to reinstate. They were all experienced men, the kind he needed badly. He called them together. “Get on the job,” he said, “and get these cars moving. Pm putting you on against orders, but I need you, and I think you can turn the trick. I’m going to take the chance of making the G. M. see it my way.”
They went to work and cleared that yard in a way that was a delight to watch. Then, the yard cleared, the yard-master reported to the train-master, and the train-master to the superintendent, and finally the voluminous report reached Mr. Hall. Under it the superintendent had written :
“What shall I do with the man who disobeys orders, by putting men to work when the general manager has refused to do so?” Without a moment’s hesitation the general manager wrote after the enquiry the laconic reply:
“Promote him the first chance you get.” That is the spirit of the railway service. It didn’t hurt the general manager’s vanity that his order had been disobeyed. The emergency had over-ruled the order -—the man, well, he had used his own judgment. He had assumed the responsibility that someone had to assume. He had kept the yard clear. He was ready and docketed for a larger job.
Get Above the Crowd
WHEN Henry Worth Thornton went from the Pennyslvania to manage the Great Eastern Railway of England in 1914, it was, according to Lord Claud Hamilton, chairman of the road, because English railways had not developed any young men equipped for the position. Thornton had lifted his head above the crowd, and the head had been seen. He was ready. The Great Eastern had a job. They looked for a man for it and found Thornton. And when the Canadian Government found an almost superhuman job on their hands, they also looked for a man, and they found Sir Henry Thornton.
Sir Henry Thornton, like E. W. Beatty, came out of the University into the railway service. It might be urged from these two examples that such a training was essential were it not for the fact that evidence is overwhelmingly against the statement. Of the twenty-five heads of United States railroads, only ten had a college training or its equivalent.
In Canada, the average would be even lower. Two great past-presidents of the C. P. R. rose from the ranks. There was a man needed for the great construction work on the railway, and Sir William Van Horne came, because there burned in him the passion for creation. There was the need to build this road economically, and Lord Shaughnessy came to the job, because he had proved himself the best purchasing agent on any road on the continent; and because he measured up to that job that railway was built economically and financed soundly.
Or you can go across the line and pick at random other instances. William T. Noonan, of the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburg Railway, entered the railway office as a freckle-faced boy of fourteen. As a young man of thirty-six, he was president of_ the road. Hale Holden joined the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy by way of the Harvard Law School, and was president seven years later. No, you can’t argue that a university training is essential, neither can you argue to the contrary. In the old pioneer days, certainly the stress was laid on the practical man, the man who had oiled engines or thrown switch bars, or tramped the section. He - knew. He had the foundation of having done things and of knowing how and whyknowledge gleaned in the long schooling of experience. He had the respect of his _ associates that comes from hard achievement. They were hard-bitten days and perhaps not quite so clear-seeing. It was not always easy to free the man who had mounted swiftly, from the charge of favoritism; but it was easy to understand and appreciate the man who had climbed from the engine pit by sheer, dogged persistence.
But the old days have passed. The old prejudice against the man with other training than that of actual experience has passed with them. There is no royal road in the railway7 service any more than there is elsewhere. But the quick-co-ordination that should be the attribute of a trained mind is a road, and a short road, to progress.
“Give me two men,” said one railwayexecutive, “each nineteen years of age. send one man to work and the other to study7, and, granting equal native talents, the trained man at thirty will have overcome the four or five year lead, and will have overtopped the other fellow.
“We men,” he continued, “who came through with comparatively little education, had to' beat that handicap, and, make no mistake, it is a handicap. The last years of schooling are the co-ordinating years, the y7ears when a young man learns to apply his powers. Set him to work before he has that training, and y7ou limit his chances. He may well succeed, but his success will come harder.”
No, it certainly cannot be said that the comparatively uneducated man will not succeed, for all the records of the railwaywill arise to refute such a statement. Nor can it be said that education is everything, for the records again will not prove it. But ask any7 senior railway official, and he will tell you that his task was harder for the lack of just such training. He will tell you that the men he is looking for are trained men, men with a thorough education, for that makes the task easier, and more profitable for the road. You can’t prove anything—but who should know, if these men do not?
A Wonderful Opportunity
THE railroads are a great field of opportunityfor young men. They7 offer much of material advantage. Not that they7 hold the largest measure of financial return, for they7 do not. But they have something else, some quality that holds the interest and enthusiasm and devotion of all those who enter the service. Look over the list of railroad executives. It is an interesting study. Their records run back through the service. They have not as a rule come from other businesses.
They have not as a rule, even in early life, tried other businesses. They began with the railway at from fourteen to twenty years of age, and in some branch or other of the railroad they have remained. They may have left the individual road for another, but they have not left the service.
The records of twenty-five executive heads of the United States railways show that these men entered the railway service at the average age of sixteen years. They entered in a wide variety of capacities, laborers, call boys, office boys, flagmen, track laborers, rodmen. In a few instances they came out of universities, in a few others they have taken university training in the odd, spare moments in their work; and they have been with the railway an average of thirty-one years without a break.
Or you can take the Canadian railroads. Of twenty executives holding vice-presidential rank, almost the same figures would hold true. Their average age at entry was eighteen years; their average service, those whose record of service is available, is forty-eight years, and the same record of unswerving service holds true. They too came from all branches of the service, stenographers, clerks, telegraphers, machinist-apprentices, brakesmen, baggagemen and minor engineering positions. They have served other roads, some of them, but it is a notable fact that the majority of those men took their first job with the railroads that they now serve.
The plain recital of their history suggests the figures of romance. S. J. Hungerford, of the Canadian National Railways, started work as a machinist-apprentice at the age of fourteen, with the old South Eastern Railway at Farnham, Quebec. He learned about the engine, its temperament and tribulations. He was in turn locomotive foreman, round-house foreman, master-mechanic, superintendent, and now vice-president and general manager in charge of operation and maintenance.
Grant Hall, of the Canadian Pacific, was a machinist apprentice in the Point St. Charles shops of the Grand Trunk. He was general locomotive foreman with the Intercolonial, and superintendent, general manager, and vice-president with the Canadian Pacific.
J. E. Dalrymple started as a junior clerk in the Treasurer’s office of the Grand Trunk at the age of fourteen, and rose to be vice-president of the same road, and has been appointed to the same position with the C. N. R.
Wedded to Railway Life
AD. MACTIER, vice-president of the • C. P. R. eastern lines, came from Blairgowrie, Scotland, with just a trace of an accent that his schooling in Yorkshire had been powerless to change. He dropped into Montreal and into the employ of the C. P. R. at almost the same moment, and he hasn’t strayed from the company since. He began as a stenographer. Now, some thirty years later, Grant Hall, the man who climbed from the engine pit, and A. D. MacTier, who wielded an agile pencil, are side by side as vice-presidents of one of Canada’s great railway lines. To add more names would be only to tell the same story, the story of the enduring hold the railway service has upon its men.
“Nothing could take me away from the railway,” says Mr. MacTier. “I could never think that any other business could possibly be as interesting as this. Perhaps other occupations have their interest. I do not know, I have never been able to see that interest as I see it here. I can think of places where I might have made more money, but I can think of nothing that would compensate for the interest I would lose.”
Justice Riddell, of the Supreme Court of Ontario, addressing the graduating class at Osgoode Hall, Toronto, some time ago, used a striking phrase. It was couched in fluent Latin, that is almost as familiar to him as his native tongue. Interpreted, it meant just this: “We are not of the
people.” It might be claimed that Justice Riddell was arrogating to the profession of law some peculiar prestige; but his application, disproved such an assumption. He was merely stating, in graphic words, the abiding fervor of a man called to a work. For the man who is called by his enthusiasms, by his far reaching ambition, by his desire to serve an art or an industry, is a man set apart by his own enthusiasms. He is not of the people, for we, the people, are mainly tepid and unaspiring folk.
When you dig down to the bottom of the life story of these men of the railway, or of men anywhere who have aspired and achieved, you will find that they also are not of the people; that they cannot see anything in any other occupation the equal of their own.
This it is that has made them surmount difficulties, reach out for new opportunities, shoulder new and heavy responsibilities. It is the constant interest and enthusiasm that turns weariness and discomfort and hardship into newer interests and wider enthusiasms. It is the lure of seeing what the next job holds of demands on yet unused abilities. You can’t stop men who think so. These Alexanders must conquer their worlds, only so can they be happy; they must constantly reach out for new worlds of interest and toil, only so can they keep themselves from weariness. If an example is needed, think of Van Horne with the work of a Titan finished behind him, starting off in the shadow of his sixtieth year, going to Cuba, to take up again his great adventure— building a railroad.
Bringing a Broader Outlook
THE service holds them. Any railway man will tell you this. There is the hint of romance that comes to awaken that dormant sense that lies in every man. They are faced every day with a thousand varying conditions. They must meet emergencies promptly and decisively; and they must have vision that is just a flash ahead of the rest of their fellows.
It is, perhaps, the sense of responsibility that the railways put upon a man’s shoulders that is the main charm of the work. The men who serve them are among the pioneers. By their work the almost unbelievable development of the vast material resources of the country has been accomplished. The long lines of rail they built have welded the strongly sectional interest of a great country into the solidarity of nationhood and have brought to the people a broader outlook, and a greater physical and social well-being.
Years ago, there came to John Jacob Astor, a vision of the vast opening field of opportunity that was presented in the awakening Orient. Someone was going to prosper through this business, some great port was necessary to make it possible, and John Jacob Astor chose Astoria. Few people perhaps even know where Astoria is; for Astor had to reckon this venture as one of the failures of his life—almost his only failure. Yet there was no physical reason for this failure. The project was carefully planned, thoroughly thought out. Men went there to develop this project, men he had chosen, but they began squabbling over preferment, fostering their own interests, battening off the job, and Astoria isn’t a great port, never was. But John Jacob Astor laid his own finger unerringly on the reason. “The plan was right,” he said, “but my men were weak. That is all.”
That is all the story of virtually every failure, of every venture that has fallen short of its full accomplishment. And that is the reason that all businesses that cannot build for the passing hour are looking for men.
The railway companies are looking eagerly for young men to enter the service to meet the needs of to-morrow, when new opportunities will have opened, when new activities will be making their demands, and when old and able shoes will need refilling. The need is urgent; that is the reason they want young men of education, men from the high schools and colleges, from schools like the Royal Military College, men who want a chance. The old brake-beam route is no longer the thing demanded. It cost too many years. They want men who can get a grip on the business and can get it fast. They are getting some such young men, but there is still the need for others.
“There are no opportunities now, as there were in our father’s time.” That statement is often heard. But it isn’t true, and it never was true, and it never will be true. There are more chances now than there ever were, there will be more chances to-morrow than there are to-day, that is the law of progress.
It is easier to build five hundred miles of railway than! to find the superintendent to run it. It is easier to enlarge the business than to find the executive to handle it. It is easier to find opportunities than to find the men to seize them. The jobs are always ready ahead of the men.