Developing next generation distribution managers through competency development Conference Paper uri icon


  • 2017 American Society for Engineering Management. Wholesale Distribution in the United States is more than a 6 trillion dollars industry with more than 300,000 businesses that employ 6 million people. Due to changing business models, margin pressure, and an aging workforce, distributors are faced with talent management crisis, especially in hiring, developing and retaining mid-level managers. These include branch managers, operations managers, sales managers, regional managers, business development and procurement managers. Traditionally, distributors promote professionals to managerial roles based on tenure and prior job performance. Attention is not given to the selection and assessment of managerial competencies for job functions or job families. Consequently, performance is often evaluated using subjective measures. Training and development activities are not linked to competencies. In this paper, we propose a structured competency development approach to hiring, managing, developing and retaining high-performing mid-level managers. The process involves selecting key competencies for job functions, developing assessment tools, identifying gaps in competencies, and providing targeted interventions to close the gaps so that performance can be managed in a more objective than subjective manner. This process can help develop competent distribution mid-level managers who can effectively drive change and impact profitability. This paper is based on a two-year research project conducted with a consortium of 18 distributors in multiple industrial sectors. The proposed approach was developed from the results from surveys, workshops, and conversations with more than 70 industry professionals.

published proceedings

  • 2017 International Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Management, ASEM 2017

author list (cited authors)

  • Nagarathnam, B., & Wang, J.

complete list of authors

  • Nagarathnam, B||Wang, J

publication date

  • January 2017