People Management in Supply chain: A Complete Guide

It is true there have been astronomical advancements in technology. Yet, people management in supply chain remains valuable.

People management entails the effective controlling, leading, and coordination of people in the supply chain to achieve a common goal. The concept is particularly helpful in the supply chain considering that it is people that are at the core of each supply chain operation. 

Despite this truth, the value and effect of people in supply chain management often go unappreciated. While many organizations are focused on improving processes, saving costs, and winning in the market, they often disregard the human factor.

This is why it is so critical. At its core, the supply chain is people serving people through a series of processes enabled by technology.

How to Optimize People Management in Supply Chain

No doubt, investing in technology, strategies, and other supply chain components has been great. But people have the most ROI. Despite this, businesses and supply chains struggle with leveraging them properly in the supply chain.

This is because they lack the right tools, information, and resources to manage them effectively. To optimize people management, these supply chains and businesses will need to do the following:

Hire The Right People

The “right people” in the supply chain operation will save an organization from errors, mistakes, and waste of resources. Better yet, these “right people” can help identify and create opportunities for innovation across the supply chain.

However, it is easy to wonder why the right people in the supply chain are necessary. Especially when they will cost the supply chain more. And thanks to advancements in technology solutions, many parts and processes of the supply chain can be automated.

It is easy to believe that the entire operation, if automated, would take care of itself. But this thinking leads to all sorts of problems.

Although the supply chain has been made easier through technology and automation, it still needs people who have the right information and attributes to ensure proper interactions between all aspects of the supply chain and that they work together to achieve the desired outcome.

Hiring the right people allows for effective decision-making, collaboration, and improved productivity in the supply chain. It will also ensure the longevity of people within the supply chain, leading to better planning and zero disruption.

Recruiting the right people may cost the business and supply chain a premium. But that cost comes along with a great ROI.

Invest in Training

Logistics and supply chain management is constantly evolving. This means there is always new information on supply chain concepts, technology, and resources to learn, explore, and acquire. It is this information and resources that the people in the supply chain can leverage to identify potential innovations in the supply chain operation.

This is why training and education is critical. It optimizes people management in supply chain operations by equipping them with the ability to enhance the processes they are involved with.

Studies like this have shown there is a correlation between training people and the efficiency of supply chain operations.


Motivation inspires people to act in a way that produces the best result for that organization and supply chain operation. it acts as a stimulant that allows them to bring in their best. Even in the supply chain, doing the same thing over and over again will often lead to demotivation among the people.

And people with great work ethics are not immune to this demotivation. It can cause supply chain downtimes, and as a supply chain manager, that can be very scary.

There are three ways to motivate people in the supply chain. They are team-building exercises, incentives, and rewards. 

Team building promotes cohesiveness and trust between the people in the supply chain. It allows them to depend on each other and work more effectively. Incentives give people something to care about in the supply chain, sparking innovation and enhanced productivity.

Rewards promote creativity and the sharing of ideas between the employees in the supply chain. Creativity is an essential tool in achieving an effective supply chain. 

An excellent example of incentives and rewards is a well-outlined career progression sequence or centralized decision-making. 

Welcome Decision Making

By nature, the supply chain entails a lot of decision-making. The more complex it is, the more decisions are needed across the operation. However, no supply chain manager and leadership want to be saddled with the responsibility of making all the decisions in the supply chain.

It is slow, inefficient, and overwhelming. On the other end, promoting decisions among the people in the supply chain builds confidence and allows for a diversity of ideas.

High confidence among people in supply chain management enhances quick and proactive decision-making, leading to efficiency.

Consider a supply chain where every decision must be run through the leadership and one where the leadership only decides on strategic decisions. In the long run, it is pretty obvious which of the supply chains will stand out. And more importantly, the supply chain that people prefer. 

Diversification of ideas in the supply chain promotes better decision-making in the supply chain. Involving your team in decision-making is the quickest way to promote diversity.

Buy-in From Staff

A buy in from the people in the supply chain is a critical pillar for people management. It is difficult for a supply chain to work with people who do not buy into the goals, strategies, and operations of that supply chain.

It would also impact how that supply chain interacts with internal and external stakeholders. One way to promote buy-in is by getting the staff to contribute to the principles of supply chain management practices. Buy-ins improve staff productivity and the output of their supply chain.

Importance of People Management in Supply Chain

People management in the supply chain is a game changer. Today, the highly rated business schools are all talking about the importance of EQ and people management in any business setting or operation.

This is because, without them, all the other investments in technology, innovation, and brilliant supply chain concepts will not materialize. People are the glue that holds the supply chain management together.

Innovations Happen Faster

Supply chain management tends to be a complex concept in any organization, driving the need for constant innovation to simplify it. However, the people within the supply chain give the best data on the supply chain processes. True, the supply chain manager or business may be familiar with all organizational processes, but the challenges may not be immediately clear to them.

Therefore they depend on the people involved in this process to help identify the problems and offer solutions. This is the cornerstone of innovation.

However, the process is only possible when there is effective people management and trust between them and the leadership.

 Free-Flowing Supply Chain

Supply chain flexibility and visibility are mostly based on three factors. Effective communication, pro-activeness, and decision-making within the supply chain. But this begs the question. How can one promote these three factors? Technology seems like the obvious answer but people management is what enhances it or makes it possible.

A supply chain with highly motivated staff who buy into the supply chain strategy would see those three factors significantly enhance the supply chain.

Better Supply Chain Strategies

People make up the supply chain. Managing the strengths of the people within it will enhance its ability to meet consumer needs.

Bottom Line

It is easy to shy away from the people management concept in the supply chain, but it would always hinder growth. Unlike many areas of the supply chain, it is an investment that pays itself in the short and long term. 

Our supply chain will always need people, so why not get the best out of them? Want more articles like this delivered directly to your inbox? Join the Supply Chain Nuggets family here.

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