Job Description of a Distribution Supervisor

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Distribution supervisors oversee an organization's shipping activities to ensure the department is distributing the right items to the right places, and at the right time. Distribution supervisors also communicate with managers regarding the status of items to be distributed as well as with customers regarding the status of their orders. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that transportation, storage and distribution managers earned an average annual salary of $91,220 as of May 2013.

Primary Duties

  • Distribution supervisors help plan the distribution department's activities. They review the shipping and receiving schedule for the day, evaluate how many employees need to work in each area and assign the appropriate number of team members to either shipping or receiving. She assigns other employees the responsibility of rotating products stored in the warehouse. She also monitors shipping and receiving documents to verify the quantity of items transported, and to confirm that the items either entered or left the warehouse. This allows the distributions supervisor to maintain an accurate inventory count for the warehouse. In addition, she decides when to hire new employees for the department and oversees training for new hires. She also completes employee performance appraisals and terminates employees when necessary.

Responsibility to Others

  • A distribution supervisor also works with others outside of the distribution department, including customers and other department managers. He communicates quantities shipped and received, as well as current inventory levels, to other organization leaders so they can stay abreast of what's on hand. The distribution supervisor might also handle customer inquiries regarding shipments. He responds to these inquiries with information confirming that products were shipped and when they are expected to arrive, or to inform the customer of shipping delays.

Education and Skills

  • Most distribution supervisors hold a bachelor’s degree in business, supply chain management or a related field, although some might advance into the position with the combination of an associate degree and many years of experience. To be successful, people in this job need excellent communication and organizational skills, as well as the ability to prioritize. Communication skills allow her to interact effectively with management, customers and employees both verbally and in writing. Organizational skills help in terms of overseeing numerous activities at once, such as those that take place in the shipping area, receiving area and warehouse. The ability to prioritize allows her to focus on the most important task at any given moment.

Job Growth

  • The BLS predicts that employment in this field will increase by 22 percent for the 10-year period starting in 2012. This growth rate is higher than average. The highest levels of employment for distribution supervisors are in the warehousing and storage, freight trucking, company management, federal government and rail transportation sectors. States with the most distribution supervisors as of May 2013 were California, Texas, Illinois, Ohio and New Jersey.

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