warehouse worker standing with a clipboard

What is it really like to be a Warehouse Team Leader?

We had the opportunity to get a first-hand account of what is it like to be a warehouse Team Leader from Karina, a Lead Associate in a large food retail warehouse, during a recent one to one interview.

What was your first role in the warehouse?

I started as a Blue Arrow Warehouse Operative and then quickly moved into a Lead Associate position. It took around 3 months between me starting and being promoted.

Did you always want to work your way up?

Yes, I always knew I wanted to work my way up. I started as a Warehouse Operative just to get into a job then I set my sights on working hard to move into a higher position.

How did you become a team leader?

I think there were a few things. Most importantly I had a great attitude towards my work, I am good at my job and I genuinely love to work with people. I also made sure that I understood the systems really quickly. I think it helped that I had been in senior management for 6 years before when I was in Latvia but it wasn’t the main thing that got me promoted.

What is the hardest part of being a team leader?

My job is not just about managing people, it is also a big responsibility. I run the chilled department which is the busiest area with lots of multi skilled staff.  We take care of a lot of things from bringing goods in, to sending them out, picking, packing and processing. We are also the only department that is fulfilling orders for the Channel Islands so we are working to really tight deadlines and the systems have to run perfectly to make sure we are not late.

Is it stressful leading a team and trying to hit targets?

I love a challenge but yes it can be stressful, not enough to lose sleep over or anything but it can be a high pressure environment. I work really closely with my team and sometimes I need to pick up other people’s teams too to make sure we stay on track. It can be stressful if you let it build up, so I do weight lifting at the gym to relieve any stress from a long day. It is important to leave your stress at the door when you leave and take time outside of work to do other things.

What type of people do you want on your team?

I only want people with the right attitude to work on my team. They must put in the effort and want to be there, because you can train someone to have the right skills, but their attitude is down to them. They have to be physically fit as well - you need to be physically able as well as motivated to work as a Warehouse Operative.

How do you inspire your team?

My team know that I was once doing their job so I understand not only how to do it but also what their frustrations might be. They know I care and that I will always do my best to solve their problems, support is an excellent motivator. I make a real effort to get to know them and to ask about their lives outside of work. We also make sure we have fun! It is important for a team to know they can laugh, and joke, we are really trying hard to encourage a fun a positive environment.

What do you wish you had known before you started?

I wish I had some more management knowledge from the aspect of human resources rules and UK management styles. I was born in Latvia and things are very different there, as Managers in the UK we work much harder to motivate staff and ensure they are happy in their job.

What skills do you think you use the most in your role?

I rely heavily on my people skills and my organisation and productivity skills. I lead by example so it is important that I show them not only what I need but that I will also do my part.

I have a passion for making sure I do a good job, making the effort to do everything 100% so my commitment to my role is also really important.

What parts of your personality make you a good team leader?

Easily my positivity and determination to succeed. If your team see you smile and remain positive even in tough times it makes a big difference.

Where can your job as a Team Leader take you?

Becoming a Shift Manager is my next target and I am working really hard to show that I will be a good choice for that position. I say yes to all of the training I can get to help me progress, I have completed leadership training, labour management training and even fire marshal training. As for the next step after that, who knows, I like to focus on one goal at a time.

Are you well supported in your role by higher management?

Yes, I am really lucky I have an amazing Shift Manager. He supports and coaches me in everything I need.

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