During last week’s 2014 IWLA Technology & Operations Solutions for Warehousing Conference attendees experienced sessions led by IT and operational experts. One theme stood out: Change is constant and successful warehouses need strategies to implement any changes.
Planning and Communication are Key to Leading Change
Catherine Cooper, founder of World Connections, served for years as the head of IT for a billion dollar global logistics firm. She knows that integration of new technologies will never go perfectly. She says the most successful launches are those that are planned and communicated thoroughly:
- Always include a Plan B in your strategies. Make the back-up plan public so that you look prepared when failure happens.
- Effective communication requires taking a complex message and making it clear enough for others to understand.
- Those in charge cannot cause fear, rather they need to be able to shift quickly.
- Good leaders manage the risk well, but risk is not always evident. Don’t assume responsibility outside your control.
- Successful leaders present options and make decisions a team effort.
Use Incentives to Bring Change
Kevin Collier, director of operations at Goggin Warehousing, led an incentive-programs discussion. According to Collier, properly constructed incentive programs can increase employee performance by 44 percent.
Incentives are highly motivating and they could be just the thing you need to have total adoption to a new system or process. However, poorly constructed incentive programs can backfire. The best way to avoid this is to design a structured program and maintain it. Collier shared five best practices:
- Recognize people for specific results and behaviors.
- Implement peer-to-peer recognition (not always top down).
- Share recognition stories—announcements, newsletters, intranet, etc.
- Make it easy and frequent.
- Tie recognition into your company goals and value.
One IWLA Tech/Ops session featured experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program. Clark Reed, national program manager for ENERGY STAR, identified best practices for energy conservation in the warehouse and shared ways warehouses can establish energy management programs.
One tool is a free, online benchmarking system called Portfolio Manager. After the user enters a warehouse’s data, the tool rates the facility on a comparison scale of 100. According to Reed, this is the first step to prioritizing and setting goals in energy management. He also shared a roadmap for the best results starting with lighting, load reduction, fans, and HVAC.