How do you keep your warehouse clean? Taking pride in the operation. But, if you truly want a clean, effective warehouse, your staff need to take as much pride in what they do as you. We’ll look at how to motive staff to be as passionate and eager to do their best work under your supervision. What makes a great warehouse leader?
It’s not news these days, but we’ll repeat the many articles on effective management: Ensure there is an open exchange of ideas and promote frequent discussion with your team. Why? Empower them to be part of the decision making process. Empower them to be creative when dealing with operational challenges.
Here we look at nine critical attributes of warehouse management to attract, motivate, and retain people (Akerman, 2000):
1.) Communication skills
Not only give direction, but receive and encode the message properly. What is your staff telling you? And, are they receiving your messages correctly? Avoid wasted effort by improving your communication skills.
2.) Delegate staff effectively
This is a difficult skill to own. You may see a fine line between being a “boss” and a “leader” in the way you communicate task delegation. Once you master delegation, make sure not to oversee the task too closely. Also, ensure the staff know it’s their responsibility. Ensure the team know you’ll be giving feedback and a performance review in a collaborative manner.
3.) Motivational attributes
Each person is different. Each team member will have different needs, whether it be recognition and performance feedback frequency. Look at the company culture. What is the attitude like among the team? Getting the culture right will make motivating the staff much, much easier.
4.) Problem-solving attributes
It’s far easier seeing warehouse workers standing around, waiting for something to do, or taking an extra long break all too often. It’s more difficult to see and recognize problems in system issues, bad data, and bad processes. It’s easy to say “It’s the way we do it”, but far harder to recognize a problem, identify solutions, and bringing the warehouse team on board to implement the change.
The management team needs to be flexible in today’s fast moving warehouse environment. They need to react quickly to urgent requests, and look at these requests as opportunities rather then negative hassles of the normal work day. People under you will see your passion and confidence, and the flexibility you demonstrate when dealing with unexpected issues will be an example for them to follow.
6.) Company process knowledge
Be an expert in your company processes. Be an expert on the software you’re using. Have a complete understanding of the company policies. This is valuable when training new staff. Ensure they get off to the right foot with the organizational structure. Take time to understand what inside sales has to deal with when submitting an order to the warehouse. What are the outside reps doing first to get the deal to the customer service team? What are the customer expectations? Thee external processes will help shape their understanding of why you have internal policies implemented.
7.) Ability to train others
Supervisors need to pass on their knowledge to other staff. Nothing is secret within your organization. It ensures continuity within the organization and a foundation for building operational leaders of the future. Well-trained staff are far more likely to stay with an organization.
8.) Customer oriented
Not only do sales staff have to be customer oriented, but the entire operation. Understand the expectations and customer requirements. Ensure you achieve customer satisfaction within the boundaries of your business. What are the trade-off’s to meeting all customer requirements (i.e. what costs are involved for same-day delivery if required, or what is the risk when shipping free samples for clients to test?).
9.) Teamwork skills
Do not be boss. Be a leader by setting out the goals of the organization for everyone to see and be part of. How is your staff going to contribute to the goals of the company? Teamwork skills capture several capabilities, like working in groups, coping under pressure, ability to cooperate, ability to influence, ability to negotiate and compromise, and of course, ability to make decisions.
In conclusion – It’s vital for warehouse management to be well equipped with the above attributes. They often are the middlemen between staff and senior management.