In a previous post, I wrote the first part of the three part series: How to Engage Remote Warehouse Employees Through Communication. I'll continue that topic and focus on the second aspect of engaging remote warehouse employees: Empowerment.
First, let's recap- Engaging Remote Warehouse Employees through Communication. The key take-away was to put communication at the core of your relationships with your employees if you want to be sure your employees are engaged in their job, their work, and their company.
I briefly described my daily, weekly, quarterly, and yearly communication strategy that seems to work here at Keller with my warehouses. No two companies are the same and really, no two warehouses are the same. Try out a few different communication cadences and find what works for you and your team.
Now we're going to talk about the second part of engaging remote warehouse employees:
Giving your warehouse employees, specifically the warehouse manager, the authority to operate the warehouse as they see best is a powerful way to engage your remote warehouse employees. By putting your remote employees in a position of influence, they feel that their ideas and input are valued and that they are trusted to do their job. Here are three ways I like to empower my warehouse teams:
Asking the managers to participate in strategic planning is key. After all, they are the ones that know the day to day operations and how normal business flows.
Whether it is setting up a new product line or creating a business continuity plan, you want to engage the people that know your warehouse and will ultimately be performing the task. Having a say in how things run gives your employees a sense of ownership in making the process successful, and in turn, a sense of pride when it does.
How do you do this? Ask for their input!
- Hold regular meetings to keep your management in the loop on the end goal of a project and ASK for their input.
- Walk the floor during your warehouse visits and ASK your operators what they think would work better.
- Think you have a new process you want to put into place? ASK your team how it would fit in their day to day lives.
Examples would be the Continuous Improvement (CI) games we have. All employees, not just remote warehouse locations, are consistently challenged with finding new ways to reduce waste. Each location has a CI ambassador. Suggestion boxes are placed at every location and employees are encouraged to come up with suggestions, no matter big or small, that allow us to improve processes.
We all know operations don’t always run as smooth as we like. Sometimes you take too long to get an order out or product gets damaged. Finding the right solution to a problem is as important as identifying the problem correctly. Continuous Improvement and Corrective Actions are two ways we empower our employees to find solutions to problems in their warehouses.
With the use of CI ambassadors at each location, our corporate team has a direct line to ideas and implementation in our remote locations. They are consistently challenged to engage the team and communicate ideas for reducing waste. Any employee can offer up a suggestion and work with our corporate office to implement a solution. We don’t push ideas at them, we want them to find ways to make their operations run smoother. To keep the energy in this process, we have an array of contests monthly and quarterly. This can range from $50 for a suggestion NOT implemented to $200 for one that was! This keeps people thinking outside the box!
As a manger, encouraging teams to be engaged in safety is of the utmost priority. We want everyone to go home the same way they came in. So how do employees help get involved?
- Contests to come up with safety slogans can include a gift card to a local restaurant and getting a poster made for the winning slogan.
- Involving employees in corrective action meetings pushes them to identify the root cause of issues and find solutions that can be implemented with their team.
- Weekly safety discussions keep topics in the forefront of everyone’s mind
3. Share Their Success
A great way to empower your employees is to share their success with all the locations of your business.
As the leader of a remote location, you've got to be your team's cheerleader! Make sure you are sharing as much positive news about your crew as possible. Submit articles to the newsletter, share on the company intranet or social sites, recognize them with upper management and your customers.
It is important to note that when you involve your employees in processes like this, you must support, encourage and follow through. Don’t shoot down every idea they have; probe them for more details on how their idea could work or be implemented. Don’t say “That’s a great idea!” and then turn around and do nothing about it. If employees don’t see results or only receive negative feedback, they aren’t likely to feel empowered or continue to be engaged with ideas.
Next week we'll be publishing the final part of Engaging Remote Warehouse Employees. You don't want to miss it so why not sign up for the blog and have our weekly blog posts sent directly to your inbox?