A shift leader manages staff for a typical eight-hour shift in a manufacturing facility or a retail store. If your long-term goal is to become manager of a business unit or store, shift leader is a likely stop along the way. In this role, you normally carry out several common leadership activities.
Lead and Coach Staff
In a manufacturing facility, a shift leader helps motivate her team to work efficiently. If bottlenecks develop or staff members struggle, the leader may step in to find out what's going on. In a retail setting, a shift leader typically delegates basic sales and service responsibilities. She also monitors employees to ensure they maintain a friendly smile and helpful attitude toward customers. This helps customer-facing organizations maintain a positive image. Shift leaders also deal with minor staff issues that come up.
Complete Tasks and Projects
General managers often assign specific tasks and projects to each shift during a workday. These are usually extra items that go beyond basic day-to-day operations. As the shift leader, your job is to delegate and participate in task completion and then provide updates to the manager. Tasks may include repairing equipment, extra cleaning projects, reviewing inventory and ordering supplies or products and organizing a section of store.
Manage Cash and Inventory
Cash handling and inventory management are two critical, regular shift leader responsibilities. In a manufacturing plant, a shift leader typically doesn't have much responsibility with cash handling, but she does have oversight of materials used in production. In a retail business, shift leaders either take regular deposits to the bank or verify them with the employee who does. Shift leaders also commonly complete routine inventory checks in various departments or product categories to watch for missing items.
Education and Training
Shift leader positions don't typically require any formal education, though some employers might require at least a high school diploma. To gain a shift leader position, you normally just need to perform well in a front line sales, service or production jobs while also demonstrating strong leadership abilities. A shift leader usually goes through basic on-the-job training to learn opening and closing responsibilities and other facets of managing shift staff.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.