– Supply Chain Insight –

The modern warehouse requires top-class communication and collaboration

effective leadership

I write a lot about the importance of effective leadership in warehouse logistics, and for good reason.

Leadership is so important with a transparent, clear, and reliable communication flow through the warehouse – at all levels – from top to bottom.

Different environments demand different leadership strategies.

The modern warehouse with omni-channel and e-commerce demands a very communicative and effective leadership style . Fast decisions during the day in a volatile flow both inbound and outbound.

I also write often about the high risks of sub-optimization in warehouse logistics with silos between different departments and tasks in the warehouse.

In order to avoid sub-optimization, you need agile, multi-competence, teams that you, as a leader, move around depending on what department has the highest workload in a specific moment.

In the modern, volatile, environment I described above, you need high communicative skills in order to motivate your staff and explain your decisions to them. You need to build a culture that both accepts and tolerates feedback regarding performance of productivity and quality.

When I talk about communication in warehouse, I mean two-way communication. It is very important that you as a leader encourage your team to speak up and have an active role in your warehouse production. It is impossible for the warehouse management to see and react to every detail.  You are dependent on a team that takes responsibility and initiative.

I always advocate a leadership style with a humble approach.  You, as a leader, do not know everything; your team should be the experts in warehouse flow and tasks. As such, you need to encourage them to have an active role in continuous improvement.

In order to empower your staff, I suggest daily meetings on the warehouse floor. You can communicate today’s challenges and focus areas and, just as important, you can use that time to gather important information and improvement areas from your team.

A communicative warehouse needs a flat organization with short flow between the floor team and management.  Agile warehouse logistics needs strong and reliable communication in order to have correct information for fast decisions.

Believe me, what I describe above is not easy.  You need to build trust in order to give and receive feedback and operate with a humble approach to ensure you don´t reject valuable information about the warehouse operations.

You have to understand, you as a leader don´t always know best. Your skills are communication and being able to consolidate information to make the right decision in consultation with the rest of your management team.

The best book I have read and learned from in order to build a communicative organization is “Radical collaboration” I strongly recommend that you read it.

Our comments - effective leadership

When it comes to continuous improvement and affecting positive change in a warehouse setting – especially in more complex distribution environments – the importance of effective and vigilant top-down leadership is paramount.  

Whether you’re implementing new technology, installing a new process, or just maximizing your existing resources, instructions must be clear and contain no room for ambiguity.

Once alignment is achieved, and everyone is working towards a shared goal, delegation and trust is necessary for proper execution, as is both feedback and follow up.

About the Author:

Roberth Karlsson - effective leadership

Roberth Karlsson is a site manager in logistics with twenty years experience in supply chain. Roberth has a broad knowledge in subjects like leadership, lean and technology. He enjoys reading books about popular science, learning about new technology and spending time with his family.

If you want to learn more about Roberth, we encourage you to check out his blog at: Roblogistic


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