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Managing the DC by Walking Around

In the warehouse and distribution center, management by walking around is a good start; here's four guidelines for success while walking.

(Boonton, NJ, April 4, 2013) — Getting out on the floor of the DC is a crucial management tactic. But if you walk around only once in a while, you run the risk of what Tom Tanel, head of Cattan Services Group calls the "lip-service presentation and eyewash tour."

"The visible presence of distribution executives on the facility floor is now routinely accepted as a defining characteristic found in organizations with a high-performance culture," says Tanel, in the April issue of Distribution Center Management.

To make walking around an effective and valuable exercise, you need a clear agenda for what you want to accomplish, and strategies for gathering useful information. Tanel recommends a basic checklist that covers the important facets of your operation. And he advises keeping the following points in mind as you walk:

  • Trust but verify. As you walk around, conduct your own spot checks to verify the statistics that make it to your desk.
  • Meet the people. Read their body language, gauge their facial expressions, and engage in small talk, which can lead to more candid conversations.
  • Use all five senses. These observations should lead you to ask pointed questions about your operations.
  • Listen closely. Asking the right questions is pointless if you don't listen.

Additional insights on managing while walking around and Tanel's checklist appear in the April issue of Distribution Center Management newsletter.

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