We live in an ever-changing world, which also applies to warehouse production. The pace of warehouse evolution is going faster and faster. We need to adapt to new technology and customer behaviors for example.
What many leaders forget is the importance of change management in the organization. If you make a major change in warehouse production without handling the change properly, there is a major risk for productivity to go down during the change process and the planned outcome of the change will not be possible.
As I have written before many companies do not prioritize warehouse operations and the warehouse leadership but the expectations is still the same as on other divisions in the organization. That is certainly strange in my opinion. Modern warehouse is getting more and more complex and the demands for cost reduction is getting stronger. Warehousing is a margin enhancer for competitive companies.
Of course you don’t need to use change management for every little thing you do in warehouse, what I mean is changes that affects the staff in a broader perspective, such as working hours or automation that gives a whole new way of working procedures. It could also be higher expectations on individual performance due to new conditions in warehouse production.
In order to handle changes with sustained productivity and quality, you should have some knowledge about change management. There is many established change management plans and many books has been written in the subject.
But if you don’t want to complicate it you could say it is all about communication and dialogue with the staff. You need to establish a sense of partnership in your staff. They must be able to provide feedback on the change, in case you succeed, it’s a win win situation. It is after all the staff who possess the best competence of the warehouse production.
What many leaders are afraid of is the dialogue. It is easy to communicate a change but to remain there and have a dialogue with the staff requires more of a leader. As a leader you need to listen to the staff’s questions and answer them, If not the frustration will take over and affect the productivity and quality. As a leader you have to be prepared for questions and you need to be able to motivate why it is necessary with the change. If there is a good reason to make the change it is easier for the staff to accept it.
Many companies have failed with lean implementations and implementations of automation, the main reason is lack of strong and communicative leadership with the ability to have a good dialogue with the staff.
Remember, if you want to get maximum of your changes in the warehouse production you first need the right leadership who is able to handle change management.