Skills Needed to Manage
Warehouse Operations

See also: Creative Thinking Skills

A warehouse manager is responsible for overseeing all warehouse operations. It’s a job that requires an array of soft skills and hard skills like understanding technology.

If you’re interested in stepping into the role of a warehouse manager, here are the top six soft skills you need.


1. Leadership

A good leader inspires and guides employees to fulfill their roles and responsibilities in daily operations. They take the time to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the team and know how to assign tasks accordingly. They also know how to manage a diverse team and can provide support when needed.

There’s no one way to lead, but the role will require the ability to adapt to fluctuating circumstances, be it on the team or with systems and operations. It’s also important to know how to foster a positive and productive work environment to motivate your team to excel and work together cohesively.

In addition to managing people as a leader, you must be able to plan well and deliver results for the business and organization. You need to be a strategic thinker who thinks about every part of the process — from stock-taking and managing inventory to ensuring the warehouse is a safe and efficient environment.

2. Communication

Your ability to communicate will affect your success greatly as a warehouse manager. You’re the bridge between higher management and staff in the warehouse's daily operations and need to be in contact with suppliers and clients. Your role requires you to constantly give instructions, feedback and information to multiple parties.

In addition to clear communication, you must ensure everyone is on the same page, as this can be the difference between a successful stocktake or shipment and lost inventory. Your communication skills can improve your team's collaboration and prevent misunderstandings or missteps. Unsurprisingly, oral and written communication skills are among the top attributes employers look for when hiring new employees.

As a manager, you set the pace. You can foster collaboration by creating an environment where every team member knows they are respected, valued and heard. Allow open communication and suggestions. Build trust with one-on-one meetings and feedback to see how each member can offer their best.

3. Problem-Solving

When you face unexpected challenges like equipment malfunctions or staff issues, you need to be able to come up with effective solutions that benefit all parties involved. Resolving issues quickly and efficiently helps prevent expensive delays and maintain operations. This requires critical and creative thinking on your part.

For example, there could be a delay for an important shipment due to a broken-down truck. As a critical and creative thinker, you need to develop short-term and long-term solutions to prevent a repeat with future shipments. You could ask a different shipment company to help with reinforcements, then ensure the root of the problem is solved. The truck may need repair as a short-term solution, then routine maintenance to prevent major issues again in the future.

4. Proactivity

Being a proactive thinker can help you anticipate problems before they arise and seek solutions to ensure operations run smoothly. Proactivity includes having long-term plans and thinking about possible outcomes for future events.

For example, overseeing a team of employees utilizing heavy equipment requires you to consider their safety at every stage. You must be aware of crucial details like schedules, safety procedures and maintenance. Regular upkeep can prevent accidents and protect other road users while employees transport goods.

Accidents and mechanical failure are inevitable if safety is neglected. Poorly maintained brake systems will yield inadequate braking power and increase collision risk, but a well-maintained system will ensure smooth stopping every time. Implement regular monthly upkeep, inspections and testing and ensure all employees are consistently following established safety protocols.

5. Adaptability

Adaptability is a crucial soft skill in a dynamic environment such as a warehouse. Technological advancements and evolving system operations and work processes require adapting to continuous change.

You are responsible for multiple operations in the system and need to be able to adjust to sudden changes and unpredictable situations like delays or supply chain interruptions. You need creativity to quickly provide solutions and get systems running smoothly again when challenges arise.

Adaptability can be both intuitive and systematic. Some problems can be solved quickly, especially with enough knowledge and experience.

Other issues need a more logical and systematic approach when there seems to be no obvious way forward, the team disagrees on what to do next or there are risks in bringing long-term change. This is when you need to consider a different perspective or adapt to the situation differently than you would previously. After hearing all perspectives and gathering information, you must also be decisive and confident about your decision.

6. Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is an essential skill for good management. Clashes will always be a part of work culture, and you can make a difference by resolving them effectively. You must stay calm under pressure and solve conflicts between other employees through active listening and collaboration.

Part of good conflict resolution is having empathy and sensitivity toward employees. This will help you understand how others feel and act accordingly when resolving interpersonal issues. Effectively solving problems results in long-term positive relationships that benefit the organization and can withstand disagreements.

How Job Seekers Can Showcase Their Soft Skills

You may have these skills, but how do you ensure your future employer knows of your abilities? When you apply for a warehouse operator position, knowing how to make a good first impression can make a significant difference in the interview process.

Your resume and cover letter are just a preview of who you are. While you may have managed warehouse operations well, and your duty was to improve the system, how do you turn that into a selling point?

When you get to the interview process, find ways to discuss your abilities and experience in detail. Give examples of how you demonstrated your skills in past situations. Be specific about the situation and talk about the actions you took and the results you achieved.

How Current Warehouse Managers Can Boost Their Soft Skills

Soft skills are like muscles — you need to practice and develop them to become stronger in those areas. Considering that 91% of employers believe soft skills are more important today than five years ago, it’s essential to upskill and reskill to grow your career as a manager. While you may already be a good leader, there’s room to become a great one and surpass even your own expectations. You can improve your skills by:

  1. Asking for and embracing feedback
  2. Seeking professional development opportunities with courses or conferences
  3. Finding a mentor
  4. Reviewing your achievements and see where and what you need to improve
  5. Setting personal goals related to your work
  6. Observing other managers or colleagues and learning from their strengths
  7. Improving your emotional intelligence and conflict-resolution skills
  8. Expanding your industry knowledge by keeping up with industry and technology trends 

Improve Your Warehouse Management with These Soft Skills

Leadership, communication, problem-solving and adaptability are essential skills that will help you ensure business success as a warehouse operations manager. Remember to highlight your strengths in these areas when you apply for a job. It’s also a good idea to continue developing these skills and engaging in ongoing self-learning to keep your skill set polished.

About the Author

Jack Shaw is a freelance writer who has spent the last five years writing about improving oneself through health, education and reworked mindsets. He’s served as senior writer for Modded, and since then has contributed to Tiny Buddha, Small Business Currents and HellaWealth among many other publications.