How do you know you have the right performance level in your warehouse?

If you don’t standardize a performance level It doesn’t matter how much you invest in WMS, Automation, forklifts or other kinds of products that should facilitate logistics flow and help the staff perform better.

As a manager it is your responsibility to communicate to your staff what expectations you have regarding performance and quality. It is important to be consequent and not make any differences between the staff because if you do that the staff will not have any trust in your leadership.

In my opinion there is no shortcuts or “rocket science” models to find the right performance level. Statistics only show the past and modern resource planning tools base their outcome on history. If you want to really know the optimal level of performance you must find loyal people in your workforce that you trust and already show better performance than average and use them in the warehouse departments in a period of time and collect data regarding performance. You need to be clear about what you want. Let them do one hundred percent of their capacity a couple of days to find an optimal average.

Sometimes when I have been frustrated and didn’t find an optimal average I have put on my working clothes and jumped on a forklift to do some picking by myself. In this way nobody can question what you say. If you can perform a certain average it is no doubt about what the staff can perform (they are the experts on the warehouse floor).

Of course you will receive all kinds of arguments why a person can’t live up to your expectations but believe me it is important to be consequent and not do any differences between your employees. If you have an average you feel is the right level maybe the person who not reach expectations is not the right person for the job. If you are a manager it includes making tough decisions.

Standardization is an important part of Lean. It does not only concern quality or working methods but also performance. Lean is also very hands on, managers who are involved in the flow in production or warehouse can not be afraid of getting dirty when optimizing working methods or flow of goods. I encourage leaders who try the working methods themselves and evaluate standards along with the staff. That is lean!

Maybe it sounds primitive but if you really want to know what your staff can perform you need to be hands on and sometimes try the warehouse job for yourself. It is also a perfect way to build trust with your workforce and gain respect.

Roberth Karlsson


  1. I totally agree, put on your working clothes and REALLY see what is happening on your shopfloor….. Easier said than done in many organizations…. having a walk throught the gemba once in a while is definetively not enough.

  2. There is always room for improvement. The right performance in your warehouse is yet to come, now and tomorrow. This is a never ending story. I NEVER am happy with the performance of a warehouse. Hopefully, I do not know where is the limit. If I knew, I would stop trying to improve, and that is something that must not be forgotten.

  3. Absolutely. Can’t agree more.

    Be the example you want the world to be. Mahatma Gandhi….

  4. As a distribution center or warehouse manger it is always good to know what your employees do and some of the challenges they face in doing there job and one way to do that is to try it yourself. There can be so much to learn in this approach. You will be seen by your employees as a “do as I say and do as I do leader”. #leadbyexample

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