Shift Manager Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Shift Manager, or Shift Lead, is responsible for overseeing business operations, delegating tasks to team members and resolving problems that occur on their shift. Their duties include stocking inventory, balancing the cash register and coordinating employee responsibilities to improve efficiency or customer service.

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Shift Manager duties and responsibilities

Shift Managers might perform the same tasks as employees while having the authority to manage co-workers in the absence of an assistant or general manager. Shift Managers are responsible for resolving an issue and ensuring work is completed on schedule within a shift. Shift Managers responsibilities may include:

  • Assigning team members with tasks to be completed each shift
  • Setting performance metrics for team members and work with team members to ensure all metrics are met
  • Properly resolving problems and troubleshooting issues as they arise without the direction of management
  • Managing multiple projects as well as staff members
  • Reporting to the assistant or general manager and meeting with management to review goals and metrics
  • Maintaining a work environment that meets company, state and federal safety and employment guidelines
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What does a Shift Manager do?

Shift Managers usually work in industries with a shift-based scheduling system such as food service or retail to provide hands-on supervision of employees when the Store Manager or Restaurant Manager is unavailable. Some Shift Managers also serve a role on the floor with their coworkers but have more supervisory authority, giving them the decision-making power to respond to customer complaints or decide disputes between employees. They make sure that their team is meeting benchmarks for success and take care of employee absences, issues with equipment and closing or opening tasks.

Shift Manager skills and qualifications

A successful Shift Manager will have strong problem-solving skills and the ability to multitask. They must be team-oriented as they will work across departments to manage a project from start to finish, making sure all departments’ needs and concerns are addressed to create a product that is best for the company. Here are several other skills and qualifications Shift Managers should have:

  • 5+ years of industry experience
  • 3+ years of managerial or supervisory experience
  • Strong interpersonal and verbal communication skills
  • Knowledge of required company software and tools
  • Associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business administration or related field preferred

Shift Manager salary expectations

A Shift Manager makes an average of $12.77 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Shift Manager education and training requirements

Shift Managers may or may not have college degrees, although having a business administration or related degree can be helpful. Restaurant Shift Managers may benefit from having culinary school educations.

Shift Managers often receive on-the-job training, moving up from team members to shift leaders to shift managers without need for a college degree, although the higher education may move an employee more quickly to the position. On-the-job training includes working closely with supervisors to understand the duties and responsibilities before officially moving into the role. 

Shift Manager experience requirements

Shift Managers should have previous experience working as a team member in the industry for which they will be a Shift Manager, which teaches them how to assist team members and guide them through the daily course of work. Shift Managers should have the experience doing all the work employees are performing and be able to jump into the work in the absence of an employee or if an issue arises.

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Frequently asked questions about Shift Managers


What are the traits of a good Shift Manager?

Shift Managers should have a solution-oriented mindset that allows them to be prepared for any challenge that could come up during a shift. Some of their most important characteristics include attention to detail, planning and organization. They should be excellent at conflict resolution and have the interpersonal capabilities to manage both staff and customer relationships. Good Shift Managers are good at forming habits and sticking to a schedule to produce consistent results when carrying out their work and managing shift procedures. They are natural leaders who can multitask without forgetting any key responsibilities.


What is the difference between a Shift Manager and a General Manager?

A Shift Manager often reports to the General Manager about the day-to-day activities of the business. General Managers deal with the overall operations of the company while Shift Managers handle the small details of what occurs on each shift. For example, General Managers might be in charge of hiring new employees while Shift Managers provide on-the-job training and perform initial evaluations of their success and understanding of company procedures. Both General Managers and Shift Managers collaborate to adjust company workflows based on the Shift Manager’s observations and the General Manager’s vision for the business.


What are the daily duties of a Shift Manager?

Shift Managers are often the keyholder for their workplace, meaning they start the day by disabling the building’s alarms and unlocking the door. They supervise their team as they count the initial register balance, check inventory and perform other opening tasks. During the day they make note of inventory needs, look for replacements for employees who called out and run any last-minute errands necessary for the business to function. They supervise their team and expedite workflows, filling in to support staff who are overwhelmed. At the end of their shift they transition leadership to the General Manager or another Shift Manager.


Do Shift Managers have different responsibilities in different industries?

While all Shift Managers serve a supervisory role, their specific activities depend on the type of business they conduct. Restaurant Shift Managers may spend time serving customers at the bar, accepting food deliveries and expediting food at the pass while a Shift Manager at a retail location might coordinate Stockers, help process returns and troubleshoot problems with the register. They will work with different types of suppliers and apply industry best practices for their type of company.

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