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The warehouse is a central hub in the supply chain, where inventory is received from vendors and stored until its eventual distribution to consumers. Warehouse personnel work long and often odd hours to ensure that each product is properly shelved and organized. Warehouse managers direct team members to stock shelves, transfer inventory properly and maintain accurate inventory levels.
Warehouse managers lead their teams - often in the early morning - as they unload trucks and organize goods onto pallets. Pallets are then delivered by hand trucks and forklifts to the appropriate sections of the warehouse, where the goods are placed in the proper location. Inventory management systems inform warehouse managers which items should be pulled for interstore transfer, delivery or to the sales floor. The manager's key role in this regard is directing the warehouse team to stock items quickly and accurately in advance of opening operations and to prepare for deliveries or customers.
Warehouse managers must keep count of each item. Inventory control systems associate an item with its correct shelf location using bar codes. If items are not where they should be, inventory counts will be inaccurate. Managers must coach and direct their teams to ensure that products are placed where they should be every time. Warehouse managers and employees are often evaluated on their ability to shelve items correctly: missing inventory can result in low sales, slow delivery turnaround or unnecessary replenishment orders.
Warehouse employees are often assembled into teams, each working a certain section of the facility. The manager should work with each team to ensure that items are organized, shelved and redistributed, but the manager can't work with every team at once. Warehouse managers must understand which personnel work best in a given role and who requires more or less guidance. One unmotivated worker can slow down the process for an entire store or cause incorrect inventory counts. Managers must be skilled motivators and leaders to get the most efficiency and accuracy from everyone. Managers also perform evaluations and employee reviews, act as coaches and schedule personnel.
New employees need to the learn processes quickly and accurately. The warehouse manager is often in charge of this training. Warehouse managers need to be skilled communicators, understanding how to teach as well as to do. The warehouse manager must delegate leadership responsibilities to team members while providing this training, ensuring that the warehouse operates efficiently at all times. The manager tracks training progress, administers computerized and hands-on evaluations and instruction and coaches as needed.
Rules and Safety
Machinery and chemicals of various types exist in most warehouse environments. Managers must operate machinery safely as an example to others, as well as to train workers to do the same. Chemicals must be stocked appropriately; for example, cleaning supplies should not be placed over food products in the event of leaks. Managers train other employees about methods for safely cleaning and removing caustic or dangerous chemicals to avoid harm to employees or customers. General Operational Safety and Hazard Administration mandates must be posted and followed as required by law.
David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.