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How Do I Become a Shift Leader?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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While there is no single method to become a shift leader, there are useful tips that may help people who want to move into this role. The first of these is to be certain to indicate an interest in such a position to management, ask for a present assessment, and get advice on training or mentorship that can lead to this goal. This should be followed by a time of learning about how to be an effective manager and acquiring knowledge about the jobs held by the people who will be supervised. Shift leaders are also prized for emotional maturity, an ability to get along with many different people, and significant flexibility in scheduling.

The professional approach to become a shift leader is to request a meeting with management. Explain the career goal and give reasons for wanting to pursue it. The main motivation should not be that the job pays more, but should focus on career development goals, such as wanting more responsibility, enjoying training, or looking for work that is more interactive with other employees. A person might also want to become a shift leader as a bridge to pursuing higher management jobs.

Several benefits can be obtained during a meeting with the manager. These include an opportunity to hear an honest assessment of your present work to determine what needs improvement. Also, ask managers or supervisors for opportunities to practice needed skills, like training new employees or making up a schedule. Some supervisors will offer to mentor employees, which may make it easier to acquire needed training. Before leaving this meeting, make a follow-up appointment two to three months down the line to discuss progress, and try to informally check in with managers approximately every six months thereafter and during performance reviews.

Some people are able to gain all the skills they need to become a shift leader in on-the-job settings. Others should take advantage of local business training, which might be offered by community colleges, employment agencies, and business associations. Learning supervisory skills and team building can be especially useful. Another option is to work in a supervisory position in a volunteer job. This can be an impressive addition to an employee's skill-set and may make him or her more ready to become a shift leader.

As much as learning about management is important, understanding the work that will be supervised is vital. In some companies, work tasks are not varied and employees will spend years doing the same tasks. Alternately, the employees under the shift leader might have very diverse jobs. Getting to know and appreciate the work it takes to do each job comes in handy when a person becomes a shift leader. Understanding the various jobs also establishes the shift leader's credibility and may earn the respect of employees.

Emotional maturity is one of the extra skills employees can bring to a shift supervisory job. If a person has a temper or doesn’t interact well with others, it’s better to learn how to improve this before getting any managerial job, through things like group or individual counseling or anger management classes. Similarly, a certain amount of tolerance for different customs and opinions is usually needed to become a shift leader who will communicate well with others. Shift leaders should remember that managing a flexible schedule is an important part of the job; this requires that employees may regularly have to work additional shifts for absent employees.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Jul 29, 2014

Becoming a shift leader was fairly easy for me, but I realize that this might not be the case for everyone. The position was announced at work and I applied for it. My supervisor told me what I have to do and I was the shift leader. I'm sure that depending on the place of work, the number of employees and the tasks that have to be done, this process might be more difficult for others.

By ysmina — On Jul 29, 2014

@stoneMason-- A shift leader is kind of a team leader, but he or she is only leading that particular shift. A team leader will often lead a department or the entire store all the time. But these are both leadership positions with similar responsibilities and duties.

The process of becoming a shift leader or a team leader is similar as well. Usually someone who is already an employee and who has leadership qualities will be selected for these types of positions. A little bit of training might be necessary but the most important part is to take the notice of supervisors and managers. They must feel that you have the skills required to supervise and lead the other employees and take responsibility.

By stoneMason — On Jul 28, 2014

What is the difference between a team leader and a shift leader? Is the process for becoming one of these basically the same?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor...
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