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Attract Next-Gen Talent With a Well-Crafted Tiered Progression Plan for Your Distribution Company

Episode: 153

“Distribution has a PR problem.” Fans of Distribution Talk will recognize that quote as one of Jason Bader’s favorite industry laments. It’s more than a pithy soundbite, however. The phrase is shorthand for the talent acquisition and development issues facing most small-to-mid-sized wholesale distributors.

One answer? A tiered progression plan.

On this rare solo episode, Jason discusses strategies for attracting next-generation new hires and offers tips on creating a tiered progression plan that will energize your entire staff.

The recruiting environment has never been more challenging. Yet, while careers in distribution remain some of the most stable and rewarding options, the industry hasn’t figured out how to sell those opportunities to job seekers. The failure often comes down to owners and managers who can’t answer the one question that all prospective employees, especially younger ones, ask: How do I advance in this organization?

Perhaps it’s a generational issue. GenX, Elder Millennials, and Baby Boomers entered the workforce with faith in the age-old adage that opportunities for advancement would avail themselves with hard work and time spent on the job. Today’s job candidates demand (and deserve) receipts. That is, they want written or (at the very least) specific verbal indication that the company takes their evolution seriously and has a program in place to foster their growth. You won’t land top talent if you can’t articulate that progression.

A tiered progression plan does more than connect the dots for employees; it empowers them to monitor their own progression. A self-directed advancement strategy also allows management to better gauge employee motivation and guide staff towards “best fit” positions with fewer time-consuming or costly missteps.

Make no mistake: creating a tiered progression plan is a laborious process. After all, you’re mapping out an entire career journey for each department of your business. But resources abound. Tap into the wisdom and experiences of later-career employees already in your organization.

The next generation is coming. They want straightforward assurances before joining our ranks. Committing a plan to paper (or Word doc) will ensure that our industry is a lot better tomorrow than it is today.”


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Amplifying Company Culture To Attract And Retain Top Talent With Bill Condron, The Granite Group


“I’m truly a believer that each manager has that incumbent responsibility to make people better than when they found them––that includes development.”

“Some people don’t want to leave that warehouse environment. I think we have to make space for that.”

“One of the biggest mistakes that we’ve had is we just don’t know how to develop people once they get to a certain point.”

“If you start really articulating the progression and really give it some thought, really line out what are the things we want people to master in order to move on to that next tier, then we are going to have candidates that are ready for that next challenge going forward.”

“Frankly, this is something that the youngest candidates are going to ask you. They want to know, ‘How do I advance here? Is this going to be worth my while?’”

It’s not about us. It’s about them and how we can help them along their career progression.”




Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth, and achieve personal goals.  

This episode was edited by The Creative Impostor Studios. Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, an integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.

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