Are Your Warehouse Employees Working at Peak Performance?

Written By: Aaron Jones

For years, logistics consultants, material handling engineers, and supply chain execution providers have been slicing-and-dicing warehouse statistics in a quest to enhance employee performance for the ultimate purpose of bringing profitable dollars to the bottom line. While having tangible statistics and historical records of warehouse operation is important, I suggest that these benchmarks alone will not drive peak employee or warehouse performance.

Let’s assume that you have a supply chain execution product, such as a Warehouse Management System (WMS), to monitor, collect, and report employee productivity. How do you use this information? Better yet, how do you get your warehouse employees to exceed the standard of expected performance? You must find a way to effectively relate company goals with personal performance standards. Bringing clarity to how each person’s efforts bring value to the company is very important. Therefore, building a team of high achievers has a lot to do with how you manage several human factors, such as employee morale, work conditions, and recognition.

Here are a few ideas to consider if you want to improve employee performance:

1. Hiring: Hire well-qualified employees. Today’s warehouse operations can be much more technical in nature than 10-15 years ago. The more automated your operations become, the more technically astute your IT staff and maintenance personnel will need to be. I suggest that you hire smart, reliable, competitive, and results-oriented people that work well in a team atmosphere.

2. Align Company Goals with Personal Goals: Clearly express to your employees the company’s objectives or mission statement. Understanding the big picture is important. Try to get your employees to buy-in to the company’s purpose and how it relates to their specific job. If you can align the goals of people with the company goals, you have an incredible combination.

3. Dollars & Cents: Be sure your employees understand how their job impacts the bottom line. Make their role and responsibilities tangible. Place dollars and cents around sub-par performance, as well as, extraordinary performance. If it fits your model, consider pay incentives for extraordinary, or even sub-par performance. Many companies are doing this with great success as their employees feel a sense of ownership.

4. M2O/t1: Establish Mutually Agreeable and Attainable performance Goals over Time. If done right, this can be a fun experience! Present the expected “standards of performance.” Next, explain how the standards were created and why they’re important. Competitive people love a challenge, so allow your employees to be creative in developing new methods to accomplish the goals. A team meeting can allow for an effective means for developing new methods. I also suggest assigning a team leader that is not a corporate manager. This sends a strong message that this is the employee’s idea versus management’s idea. Management should always set the expectation, but employees can develop the wining solution. Additionally, if a goal is worth creating then it’s worth having a timeline for completion.

5. Train/Practice: When new methods or procedures are being developed – practice them. Be sure to get direct employee feedback and continually make improvements. Once the newly developed techniques are exceeding the goals, document them and report them frequently. Post large graphs or charts so that everyone can see the expectations and the accomplishments. This continual scoreboard let’s people know how their doing each and every day.

6. Recognition: This could possibly be the most powerful tool in your arsenal. People love recognition for a job well done. There have been thousands of books written on the importance of recognizing people for their accomplishments. So, why don’t we applaud our people more frequently? Why do we make this a “task” then push them to the back burner? Why, because it takes effort! And, the more thoughtful and genuine you can make the recognition, the greater employee return you’ll receive. I suggest reading “The Carrot Principle” for ideas.

7. Have Fun: Because I believe that the work environment should be fun, competitive and rewarding, I volunteered to be the chairperson for the annual LogistXGames. The games are a competition that promotes the practice of logistics on a local, regional, and national level. The LogistXGames bring teams of logistics practitioners together in head-to-head competitions to build employee pride, establish teamwork principles. and reinforce safety standards vital to the industry. If you’re trying to find a way to recognize your employees or to simply have some fun, maybe the LogistXGames is the answer. Many other companies have realized the benefit of participating. Maybe your company can also.

If you have other ideas to fire-up employees for peak performance, I’d like to hear back from you.

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1. Skip Miller’s book “ProActive Sales Management” page 17-19

Aaron Jones
Aaron Jones was promoted to President of Bastian Solutions in January 2014 after serving as regional manager for five years and vice president for four years. During his time with the company, he has opened new international offices and has been instrumental in introducing new technologies and innovations to the Bastian Solutions’ arsenal.

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