Our First Leadership Roles


Welcome back, I’m Marty with Warehouse and Operations as a Career.  Today let’s touch on Leadership, we’ve discussed several different positions within the warehouse and transportation environments and of course what we’re interested in, or our goal is to make money, have a long term job that we can turn into a Career.  Here in a bit we’ll be visiting with Jeremy, I can’t wait to hear his advice and thoughts about today’s topics and his experiences, I think you’ll find them very interesting!

We’ve talked about how to break into Operations, through an entry level position and the importance of, or how to learn the tasks around us, take advantage of every opportunity that’s presented to us, really participate in our start up meetings and be noticed by our Managers, meet & exceed productivity requirements and let them know what our goals are and we’re ready for more responsibility.  Our attendance and learned knowledge or on the job education will get us there, I honestly believe Operations can offer us that Career!

I’ve been very fortunate in my career, I’ve worked with and had the opportunity to promote many people into Lead Positions and Supervisor roles and on to Directors, several that went on to V.P. positions in Warehousing, Transportation and VP’s of Operations.  One takes on more responsibility with each new job, but as we’ve discussed there’s a direct correlation with more money and more Experience &  responsibilities!

Several of us may be about ready to graduate into a Lead Position, we’ve shown our management team that we’re dependable, met every objective given to us and we understand our position and the positions connected to ours, what happens before we handle the product and where it goes after we’ve completed our task.  By now our Supervisor should know, we’ve had several talks with them, that we want more responsibility and will apply ourselves and perform as we’re directed.

Many times, or in my experiences, the Lead Position is an hourly position, usually comes with a bit of additional pay to accept a bit of responsibility regarding other employees.  In both the Distribution and Production worlds it could be very much a working role.  A few of the additional responsibilities may be communicating direction from Supervisors, maybe tasks like keeping Rosters and Schedules and overseeing projects for management, things like that.  We won’t have to usually worry about reporting or financials but we’ll need to keep our Supervisor up to speed or in the loop with our teams progress and goals. This is another entry level position, an entry level position into Management.

The Supervision role is the next step in Management, many times I feel its misunderstood or entered into a bit lightly on our part.  Usually its our first experience into the Salary world.  We’ve always compared our hours worked with the money we made, at least in our minds and at a subconscious level anyway.  By now we should really enjoy our tasks, I mean we enjoy the work we do, the industry we’re in and this may be the next step in our Goal Path.  Let’s talk a bit about Supervision.

We’ve been working Hourly, meaning we’re paid x number of dollars an hour, and there’s an overtime component added to it if we work over x number of hours each day or week, depending where we work, and our weekly pay fluctuates weekly depending on how many hours we work each week.  When we go salary, many times, our first thought is I make more money weekly than your offering!  Let’s look at our new position, I know several facilities that calculate that starting salary based on a dollar amount based on a 45 hour week.  Now of course if we generally work 40 or 43 hours a week we consider that a raise, right?  Of course, if we work 46 or 48 hours a week we think we lost money.  But now we may be in a position to control how long we work, I mean we can create efficiencies to get the job done quicker or implement all those ideas we had when we were on the floor and working for the old boss right?  Seriously though, we need to add in the education we’re getting, again for free, and all that were going to be taught and the experiences we’ll be exposed too . A lot of times there could be Bonuses paid at this level as well, when goals or objectives are met incentives may apply.  This is the first step in our next set of goals, and hey, it’s needed if our goal is that VP Position!

One of my favorite quotes, at least regarding leadership is by Dwight D Eisenhower, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it” and on the flip side of that he also left us with another quote, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not Leadership”

One of the most challenging things we’ll face in our Lead and Supervisor positions is working with and Leading the same people we use to work beside.  We have some responsibilities now, those friendships will change, they have too, we can’t favor one over the other.  We have a job to do, they have a job to do & you are responsible for getting it done.  I feel we should just look at it as two types of relationships, a personal one and a business one.  We just have to remember Business has to come first, and if we learn to be good leaders we’ll know the difference.

We’ll be talking a lot more about Leadership in upcoming episodes, I love management roles, and feel free to shoot us an email with any questions or thoughts you have about Leadership and we’ll discuss them on here or our blog. We talk quite a bit about Leadership on our Twitter feed each week as well, we see some really good articles there.

Today we have Jeremy joining us for a bit, Jeremy has had a great Career in Operations, like us he came up through the warehouse, held many positions up to and including Director Operations at a large Distribution Facility and has ventured into Sales now, working with several light industrial industries.

Jeremy Thanks for visiting with us a few minutes today Sir!

So Jeremy, tell us a bit about your work history and how you got started in Operations?

I have been associated to warehousing and distribution since I was too young to be working in one.  My father was in the industry for over 35 years and use to take me and my brothers to his warehouse and make us sweep the floors when he was getting ready for inspections.  I officially stated working in a warehouse when I was 18 and spent 18 years as a part of a proprietary based food distribution warehouse. Within that time frame I did every job you could imagine on the warehouse floor and always prided myself to try to be one of the best.


18 Total Years

Selector – 5 Years

Leadman – 3 years

Supervisor – 4 years

Warehouse Manager – 3 years

Director of Operations – 3 years

By the time, I reached the director Job I had roughly 150 employees that I was responsible for, ran a building that was 165,000 square feet, and serviced over 50% of the nation as far as a delivery radius goes, with our farthest-reaching point being Anchorage Alaska

That’s a great accomplishment Jeremy & the blueprint we’re always discussing here at WAOC.  We’re all interested in landing a Career, now of course that Career may be any position we really enjoy or we may have a goal of Management and working towards that.  What do you look for in that solid employee or what defines leadership qualities to you and what do you look for?

I always use to tell my hourly associates that had an interest in advancement into leadership one key thing.  Anyone can be taught the systems and clerical portion of the job if they have the desire to learn, however the true sign of a leader is your ability to have others follow you.  All the best leaders I have known had a great talent at engaging with their employees and getting them to believe in the same goals as them.  Once you have everyone striving to accomplish the same thing as a team you will be amazed on what you can achieve.

Well put Sir, Being Honest, Fair and being a good listener will go a long way in becoming a leader!

In today’s markets do you feel operations still affords those great opportunities it did in our days Sir?

That is an interesting question and I would have to say yes.  I am a firm believer in the fact that the knowledge gained in an operations career is something that is very valuable.  The great thing about an operations career is that there are so many different avenues you can pursue within one employer to expand your knowledge base and advance your career.  A career is all about what you make it to be, and if a person truly applies themselves than they will attain their goals.  Personally, I have been able to take all the things that I learned throughout my tenure in operations and utilize it to work in the sales industry.  My knowledge base allows me to help my clients, by providing distribution specific solutions for all of their operational needs.

I agree with every point you spoke too, those careers are there and it’s really our responsibility to reach for them, learn everything we can, educate ourselves and – really just go get them!

Could you share your thoughts on the technologies in our field, the WMS systems and all the unloading and selection systems being used today?

Warehouse technologies have advanced so much in the last 20 years it truly is amazing.  The general premise of a warehouse management system or WMS, is to automate the process of tracking, measuring, and monitoring the functions of a warehouse.  Every facility that has a complete WMS is one giant WIFI network that uses Radio Frequency based equipment to send and receive data.  This equipment allows information to be directly sent into the WMS versus having to be written down and hand keyed in by a clerical position.  Right now, there are several different variations on these WMS’s, however they have all been built to accomplish the same thing and they just have different forms of data capture.

For instance, a few examples of the data capture by category are

Tracking – Inventory Levels, Shelf Life’s, and Payroll

Measuring – Productivity Efficiencies, O/A, and Engineered Standards

Monitoring – Employee Locations, Temperatures, and Employee activity

WAOC is all about being the Best, Getting Noticed, Self-Educating if you will, and Being That Employee, any parting words of wisdom you would like to share with us today, another words make us successful Leaders Sir?

A good philosophy I live by, is that anyone can point out a problem or issue that is the easy part.  The hard part is to come up with a solution to that problem and to be a part of the resolution.  Always try to be part of the solution and not the issue.  You will find that this philosophy will make you a great resource to your team, when you make it part of your daily routine.

I love the Always try to be part of the solution and not the issue.  Our jobs as leaders are to go over those walls and accomplish the goal right?

Jeremy, thank you for taking a few minutes with us today, you made a lot of good points and gave us plenty to think about, we really appreciate it, could we twist your arm to come visit with us again sometime Sir?

And I’d like to thank each of you for listening in, I hope we’ve triggered some thoughts and brought something of value to you today.  Please share any thoughts or comments with us or topics you’d like us to talk about, shoot us an email host@warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com and check out our Twitter and Facebook feeds each week.

Until next week, have a Safe, Productive and Prosperous week!

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