Do I want to be a Supervisor


Warehouse and Operations as a Career with you here today, I’m Marty and I’d like to thank each of you for taking a few minutes with us again.  I’ve had a great time out on the road the last couple of weeks, very productive trips but it’s nice to be back home and getting caught up.  With our last two episodes we talked about getting noticed and how to best utilize our knowledge, which we gain at every shift we work, and communicate it to our supervisors.  I’d like to thank everyone that emailed and shared your thoughts, experiences and suggestions with us recently.  I’ve had a few people asking about the Supervisors role.  I was sent a couple of questions that came to their minds, and I felt they were valid questions so let’s talk a little bit about the position of Supervisor today.  Supervision, or any management role really, can seem challenging to us in the beginning.  Personally I feel two of the most important traits we’ll need to learn if we do not already possess them is Organization & Time Management Skills.  I’m not necessarily talking about multi-tasking, and by the way that’s a philosophy I strongly discourage, at least in our industry.  Anyway, with the additional duties we could be tasked with as Leads and Supervisors you’ll find that stopping and starting points, maybe checklists or task sheets will help us insure we get everything done and all the bases are covered.  Planning out our day regarding when things have to been done can insure we have the time to devote to each of our responsibilities.  Lead positions and Supervisor roles or their specific task are kind of difficult to wrap up into a nice little package as every warehouse and facility can be structured differently with an organizational chart that sometimes has so many branches to it that it seems almost confusing itself. Lets start with a definition: Merriam Webster explains to us that a Supervisor is:

one that supervisesespecially :  an administrative officer in charge of a business, government, or school unit or operation

when I checked out Supervises it states Supervises –

to be in charge of :  superintendoversee supervise a large staff supervised the ship’s daily operations.

Well theirs the definition, from a book anyway, so what does a Supervisor do in our world.  Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, I kind of jumped off track again.  OK, lets look at the questions sent into us the last two weeks.  I received several variations of this one:  You speak a lot about being noticed and moving into management, why would I want to be a lead or supervisor? That’s a very good question & one I hear almost weekly in one form or another.  As I’ve spoken to before Operations has been very good to me over the last 38 years or so.  I feel it’s a great Industry and Career path for those of us that need to stay busy, that need to make money and have a check coming in each week and enjoy working in teams or around other people.  Yep, the work is hard, can be physically demanding and stressful even – when we’re taking our jobs serious.  Once we learn the mechanics of the warehouse, the general labor positions, and then the skilled jobs we’re unlimited regarding our advancement possibilities.  The more responsibilities we’ll take on, the more money we will make and the more opportunities that will be offered to us.  Want to be the President of your Distribution Center or Corporation, you can within this field, I’ve seen it done, honestly.  As a matter of fact, as we get a bit further into discussing mid management after the 4th quarter we’ll have a couple of guest that started on the floor and retired as Presidents and CEO’s of large distribution centers!

I always answer the question of Why would I want to be a Supervisor with because believe it or not you’re going to want to make more money, at some point the physical part of the job may become more than you’re interested in doing & I believe everyone wants to be challenged every so often.  Don’t get me wrong, I know fork drivers, order selectors and delivery drivers that love what they’re doing and been doing it for 30 years, they’ve made a great career doing it and I admire them for it.  They’ve taken care of the family & made a huge impact for their companies.  Many have retired and living a great life of retirement now.  But, if you enjoy responsibilities and want to be involved with making decisions, making and implementing change, the lead and supervisor positions is that first step.  I personally like challenges and I believe a sizable percentage of the young men and women in our industry does too.  Honestly, at least in my opinion, it’s just too easy not too.  Another plus is you get to help teach others, give them that education that others have given and shared with us, right?

The other question that comes up every week goes something like I’ve been offered a lead or supervisor position, do I have to take it or will I lose my job or be thought less of?  I know this is stressful, sometimes it may even take us by surprise.  We’re doing a great job at the position we have, we’re engaged with the company & participating with our teams. We’re doing everything right so naturally we’re on the company’s radar but we’re really enjoying what we do.  The answer is no, if you’re not ready for the responsibilities in my experiences you will not be singled out because you turn a promotion down at all.  Now our management team may work even closer with us going forward, teach us more and try and make us feel more comfortable with those concerns though.  They feel we’d be an asset, and the odds are their right.  You’re doing everything correctly, you’re a great employee, take the leap, no one’s going to let us fail, someone’s gone out on the limb with us, they’re going to give us the knowledge and tools to succeed!

So, let’s talk about Supervision for a minute.  In our world, it will mean more responsibilities.  Could be some things like setting up the shift, keeping up with rosters and attendance.  Maybe we’d need to assign orders to be pulled, or trucks to be loaded.  Quite possibly we could have some regulatory or safety procedures and processes handed off to us to oversee.  And of course, the biggest responsibility & most definitely the hardest part of the job will be the team, the employees, all those different personalities we’re now responsible for.  Yep, their livelihood and safety may fall under us now.  As with any promotion odds are you’ll think a bit differently about the positions you’re coming from.  A quick example, as an order selector you may know an associate, maybe even a friend that doesn’t always practice or follow every rule regarding his or her pallet jack.  As a peer or associate you may not have cared so much but now you may find yourself responsible for any injuries or damages and you’ll probably think a little differently about it.  You may be exposed to a much bigger picture now, understanding the effect of such actions to the team and company, shoot, you may even be incentivized on how well things run so you could have an entirely different outlook now.

If you’ve been following our show you’ve heard from all of our guest which has included Independent Drivers, Supervisors, Managers, Directors and a couple of different V.P.’s, all of them started on the warehouse floor as G/L, new to the industry and have grown through the ranks.  You know how I feel about Operations and how passionate I am about the Career opportunities that it can offer.  I believe it was John in episode 16 when we were discussing Temporary Staffing Agencies that pointed out the possible earning potentials within our industry.  Those 6 figure incomes are there, all one has to do is apply themselves to their position and learn from those willing to teach us.  You know I have to wrap up this thought by saying Warehouse and Operations is a great Career choice & just do it.  I’m certain you’re ready, if your already thinking about it, reach for it and make it so!  And us here at WAOC will help in any way we can, just send us a message to and we’ll certainly share our experiences with you!

Management roles are not for everyone, it’s perfectly fine to enjoy a position or task & that can fit our lifestyle perfectly.  I believe we have to love our work, we’re going to do it our whole lives until we retire from the workforce.  But they will fit many of us, there just that next job or task for us.  Each new job has brought with it a little anxiety or the thought of the unknown.  A Lead or Supervisor role is nothing more, just another page in our lives!

I hope we’ve explained the roles a bit today & we look forward to hearing your thoughts on management as the opportunities are offered to each of you. If you have a few moments please check out our Twitter and Facebook feeds, you can find us @whseandops on both.  If you haven’t already please subscribe to the Podcast so you don’t miss any episodes each week!

As always have a great week ahead and let’s speak to a coworker about Safety or a Safety practice this week, who knows it could just save them or us from an injury!

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