How to Manage your Warehouse Staff in the Midst of a Change

January 29, 2018

As much as we want to embrace change and think of ourselves as change agents welcoming new opportunities, it is known that change is not welcome by mankind. There is generally a large resistance to it and overcoming the resistance is a challenge in itself.

 

When GraniteWMS is implemented at a new site, we are well aware that the system works but in order for the system to work as it is intended, the warehouse staff need to cooperate. This is often easier said than done.

 

 

We are in an age where technology is continually replacing the jobs of humans. Therefore, naturally, whenever we arrive to implement GraniteWMS, the warehouse workers assume they are going to lose their jobs to a machine. This is our obstacle. It is VERY important to pinpoint the worry of the workers so that you can identify what you need to say and do to reassure them. 

 

We believe in a 5-step process when tackling change:

 

1) Introduce yourself and your role on the project

 

Before the configuration begins, introduce yourself (or ask the company manager to introduce you) as the consultant on site who is going to be implementing the system. Ensure that a company leader (meaning the manager/ceo/supervisor) is walking beside you as you get to know the staff and get a feeling for the culture in which the staff work in (this is based on the assumption that the staff respect the manager, if they do not, appoint someone from the staff who is well-respected to walk around with you and explain the change). Ask questions that will help you understand the environment more easily. 

For example: Do they work in teams? Are clear roles defined? What are the working hours? How long has each staff member worked there for? These questions will help you identifiy what type of organization you are working with in order to better enable you to identify any potential problem areas. 

 

2) Explain the benefits of the change and the reasons for the change

 

Everyone wants to know how the change will affect them and how it could possibly benefit them, otherwise they would see no point to it. They also need to understand why the change is neccessary in order to accept it. 

For e.g. with Granite we explain that the worker's jobs will be made easier as they won't have to record everything they do manually anymore, the system helps alleviate that stress. When we explain the benefits to the managers, we explain that all the items of stock will be much easier to manage and monitor with GraniteWMS in place. It will help them maintain better control over their warehouse. 

 

3) Establish a Relationship with the Users

 

Listen to their concerns so that you can enable them to feel more comfortable with the idea of the system. Encourage them to test the system and ask as many questions as possible. Create opportunities for them to feel challenged and to make mistakes. The more mistakes they make and undertand in training, the better the go-live process will be. 

 

4) Develop a Training Strategy

 

When training commences and you are working with large groups of staff, separate them into 'groups' or 'teams' so that they build collaboration with one another. A 'team mentality' ensures comittment from the individuals. They are comitted to depending on eachother. 

 

 

 

If working with smaller groups, allow each individual to have enough practice with the system. Allow them to make mistakes and learn from them. Another useful trick is to let someone who is more comfortable with the system teach another member of staff until they are comfortable. If the staff teach each other, they generally understand their own languages and ways of explaining better. This also follows on the concept of 'if you can teach it, you understand it'.

 

*Note: another idea to think about is to develop a means of tracking items or areas in which mistakes were made. For e.g. putting a traffic cone on shelves that have a mistake or that represent a problem for the user. 

 

5) Monitor From a Distance

 

By enabling the staff to work in teams and/ or teach eachother individually, they should be able to eventually rely on eachother more to solve problems rather than you as the consulting team. This is to ensure independance and confidence. A confident and enthusiastic team are a successful team. User adoption is essential; if the users are happy that will make the managers happy which will result in a successful go-live.

 

For more information on working with a WMS , visit www.granitewms.com

 

 

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January 29, 2018

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