warehouse workers outside a warehouse assessing

From ensuring warehouse safety to preparing for scalability, to managing team members, operating as a successful warehouse supervisor requires a mindset that is focused on both the business and the people. Balancing these requires consistent training, a strong strategy, and daily practice.

CMOE’s Warehouse Supervisor program guides leaders through insights into how to be a good warehouse supervisor by focusing on four essential skills:

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Planning
  • Time management
  • Problem-solving

Our research team has found that these skills address the root challenges supervisors face and support leaders with the expertise and confidence needed to drive value across the organization. CMOE’s Warehouse Supervisor program leverages the latest supervisory concepts and skills in the warehousing and distribution field to provide applicable skills and sustained results.

Unique Challenges Warehouse Supervisors Face

At CMOE, we believe the key to tackling the obstacles that prevent supervisors from reaching their full potential is supporting the next generation of warehouse leaders with skill and leadership development. To help supervisors build confidence in their roles, we recognize their unique challenges, such as:

  • Labor shortages: 64% of supply chain professionals express that the generation gap is the leading cause of warehouse labor shortages. In addition, 57% believe that these labor shortages have stopped teams from meeting customer demands.
  • Rising consumer demands: The majority of warehouse professionals believe that due to increasing demands and competitive advantage, they will need to implement greater operational efficiencies as the expected turnaround time to meet customer demands become shorter and more demanding.
  • Inaccurate inventory: Warehouses often face inaccurate inventory issues, which impact the efficiency and profitability of the business. Providing team members with coaching and feedback are key actions warehouse supervisors can take to reduce problems associated with human error and damaged or lost items.

Warehouse Supervisor Skills at the Forefront

CMOE’s training plan focuses on developing four critical supervisory skills:

1. Interpersonal Communication

A great warehouse supervisor consciously tries to lead with clear communication to establish roles as well as offer feedback and recognition. Doing so will help retain top talent and ensure the workforce members understand expectations and feel appreciated in their roles.

CMOE’s training program helps leaders practice transparency in interpersonal communication. Supervisors will understand how to leverage transparency, ensuring each individual knows their role in the warehouse. Supervisors can use this skill to clarify expectations and responsibilities, uniting all team members toward a common goal.

Additionally, participants in the program will learn how to give support and one-on-one feedback to drive a culture of growth and improvement on the warehouse floor. Supervisors will learn how to be candid yet caring when communicating feedback to ensure that team members understand that the goal is improvement rather than punishment. Moreover, they will learn how to receive feedback from team members to nurture trusting relationships because healthy communication goes both ways.

2. Strategic Planning

A good warehouse supervisor strategically plans operations to maximize the use of space, time, and resources.

This strategic planning involves:

Having a firm grasp on the warehouse layout, inventory management, material handling, and logistics. This information provides a solid overview of the warehouse and aids in operations running smoothly.
Engaging with purchasing and sales teams to understand your customers’ needs and pain points. Utilizing the data provided by these teams helps embody an integrated approach and consistent aim to meet customer demands at every level of the organization.
Establishing a contingency plan to address the unstable dynamics in the warehouse or among teams. Operational disruptions such as technological outages, staffing demands, shift changeovers issues and more can impact warehouse performance. Having contingency plans for the most probably scenarios and how to respond to those can help to minimize the implications related to cost, labor, and customer expectations.
Overseeing a mentorship program where seasoned workers pair with newer workers. This can help mitigate performance issues, close skill gaps, bridge generational differences and support career development and retention efforts.

two warehouse workers in discussion

3. Time Management

Time management allows supervisors to focus on high-value tasks and delegate operations within their teams. Proficient time management includes:

  • Establishing realistic and measurable goals. This effort entails using key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure performance and identify areas to improve operational efficiency.
  • Prioritizing warehouse tasks. Supervisors will learn how to use data to prioritize warehouse tasks, including delegating and outsourcing responsibilities. The objective is to avoid wasting time and free up resources for higher-value tasks.
  • Using technology. Software and apps such as a labor management system help organize, track, and optimize work. Our training also supports the ability of teams and team members to utilize technology and follow standardized processes and procedures.

4. Problem-Solving

Every warehouse has a dynamic work environment with varying personalities and business demands. These complexities challenge supervisors to think creatively and be adaptable to meet the daily operational demands.

After completing the CMOE program, you will gain the following skills that support your ability to solve problems:

Critical thinking skills. The program supports warehouse supervisors in analyzing team and business data to make smarter decisions. In addition, you can use your skills to identify obstacles and issues faced by team members and find tangible solutions to address them.
Adaptability. Given the distinct challenges in the role and industry, the dynamic warehouse business requires leaders to constantly adapt. From changing customer demands to the rise of automated technology, our program helps supervisors understand how these shifts impact the day-to-day operations and to confidently lead that change that needs to occur.
Delegation. Supervisors can better understand how to delegate responsibilities by leveraging the experience and strengths of team members. The intention is to boost efficiency and production in tasks as well as ensure every team member is rising to their potential.
Conflict resolution. Different personalities can cause interpersonal conflict, and supervisors are the first responders when managing these issues. Participants will learn how to manage differences and resolve conflict in a way that helps team members develop a mutual understanding and higher levels of collaboration.

Questions Addressed in the Training Program

Offering a comprehensive training program can also aid in creating more consistency across leaders within a warehouse setting. As you consider what skills and abilities are necessary in a training program for your leaders, give some thought to the following questions:

  • What are the most important skills or behaviors our warehouse supervisor need?
  • What are the qualities of effective or successful warehouse team leaders?
  • What are the key responsibilities of a warehouse supervisor?
  • What are the top 3 people issues that leaders need to be skilled at addressing??
  • How can warehouse leaders be more effective with their team members?

Our programs can help your team members build the necessary skills and become stronger, more effective leaders.

Invest in Your Warehouse Supervisors with CMOE

As a globally trusted leadership and skill development partner, CMOE can aid in building your supervisors and building stronger teams. Contact our team to learn more and discuss your needs today.

About the Author
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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