Leadership in warehouse management, remains paramount
Warehouse management has witnessed many technological advancements. The digital solutions and automation have optimised a lot of processes which has made operations easier and smoother. Amongst all these changes, this one thing still remains the most relevant and important one, which is ‘leadership’.
Leadership in managing a warehouse facility or network remains crucial for proper functioning and consistency in required output. This determines the strength of the teams working together for a common goal. In a warehouse, interaction and co-ordination between individuals as well as teams, builds the foundation of the operational processes.
Fulfilment of an order demands a smooth flow of information between different departments. Timing and accuracy at every step become two very important aspects. An efficient leadership could ensure this co-ordination of time, accuracy and information. Regular inter-departmental meetings and seeing warehouse functions as a whole, could help in better flow of working. A strong leadership helps in examining the warehouse operations from a bird’s eye view.
Conflicts and feedback loop
Warehouse in modern times can be seen as one of the most dynamic environments. Everyday can be different in terms of regular tasks and operations. Leaders that are capable of taking spontaneous decisions make the system far more reliable. To achieve this, in-depth knowledge and experience in the industry could be beneficial.
Making on-spot decisions can also result in conflicts and disagreements. In environments like warehouses, where different departments driven by different responsibilities, have to work together, it is important to resolve the disagreements within minimum time frame and move ahead with the further procedure. Thus, conflict management becomes an important for the leaders.
A feedback loop could help in avoiding / resolving these conflicts. Taking feedbacks from different departments about their challenges and ideas should be seen as a part of leadership framework. A feedback could help in refining operations making them more efficient.
This discussion will remain incomplete without talking about the inter-personal relationships between the members of the team. A leader is responsible for maintaining a culture of positive attitudes and behaviours amongst the team members. This directly impacts the dedication and willingness of an employee to work. In order to improve the performance of the team, inter-personal communication should be encouraged to be open, positive and rewarding. A leader who sees his subordinates as partners, truly builds a strong communication channel which is most essential in environments like warehouses.
Flexible leadership style
Warehouse operations involve situations where delegation of tasks becomes important. In such cases, a leader needs to exercise different kinds of leadership styles and remain flexible.
The core responsibility areas should be clearly segregated from the day-to-day regular tasks. This can ensure the segmentation of areas where decisions are to be taken by the leader/manager only. While at some points, the decision could be taken by other members responsible for the tasks. This means that the leaders should know when to be flexible and when to be firm in their approach.
Awareness about the responsibility areas is also one of the key factors for a successful management of warehouses. Often delays and errors result from the lack of awareness and unclear demarcation of the responsibility areas. Leadership at warehouses needs to ensure that the employees are aware of the responsibility areas of their own as well as the task force involved in a particular operation. At the time of any uncertain situation or accident, the staff should know about the best person to be contacted in order to resolve the issue.
Automation has undoubtedly improved the warehouse operations, but leadership still remains paramount as it defines the human resource management and co-ordination which remains superior to machine operations.