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What Does a Shift Leader Do?

A shift leader oversees operations during specific periods, ensuring smooth workflow, addressing employee concerns, and maintaining quality standards. They're the go-to person for immediate decision-making and problem-solving. But what qualities make a successful shift leader, and how can one enhance these skills?
Nicole Long
Nicole Long

Shift leaders perform essential functions in a variety of settings. This person is typically someone who was promoted through the ranks and understands the various ins and outs of the positions they oversee and the company they work for. They perform advanced administrative tasks, supervise employees, complete scheduling requirements, and also help resolve complicated customer service issues.

Promotion to a shift leader often occurs after a demonstrated confidence and understanding of the job. This occurs over time and usually with the help of a mentor, such as a manager or recently promoted shift leader. These people may also be referred to as shift supervisors or shift managers.

A shift leader may be responsible for mentoring new employees.
A shift leader may be responsible for mentoring new employees.

Advanced administrative tasks are often part of the responsibility and job duties of a shift leader. This can include entering payroll information, balancing cash drawers, and ordering supplies. The leaders of the shifts may also perform daily bank deposits or other tasks in the absence of a manager.

Supervising employees may be one of the main tasks of a shift leader. This includes overseeing daily performance and providing feedback on improvements or encouragement for a job well done. In theory, this person is the connection between those on the floor and upper management. This helps the company identify areas where additional training may be necessary. Other supervisory tasks may include handling any disciplinary action and mentoring new employees.

Scheduling employees is often delegated to those in charge of managing and integrating various shifts and company needs. This can leave a shift manager or supervisor as the main scheduler for their respective shifts. In some organizations, a shift supervisor may coordinate with senior management to ensure employees receive requested vacation days or schedule changes, while in other organizations a shift leader is solely responsible for coverage during their shift.

Complicated or difficult customer service issues often get sent up the chain of command. Even if an employee is more than competent to handle a difficult issue, the customer may insist on management involvement. Since those in charge of each shift serve as a representative of management in their absence, they may be called on to resolve these issues.

The position of shift supervisor may come with other responsibilities as well. This can include covering shifts when employees call off or arranging for emergency coverage. Keeping an accurate employee file and conducting employee performance reviews may also fall on the shoulders of a shift leader.

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Discussion Comments


You are right, Certlerant. In addition, since a shift supervisor usually comes from the hourly employee ranks, he or she has little chance of advancement beyond that point without further education or training.

Also, shift leaders are among the first management positions to be considered for layoffs.


It's true, shift supervisors are the lifeblood of any company with multiple departments and a large number of employees.

However, don't let the shift leader job description fool you into thinking this is any upper management position.

Instead, shift supervisors in most companies are very low in the management hierarchy and usually do not make much more money than the employees they supervise.

Generally, shift leaders are still hourly employees, not salaried like other managers.

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    • A shift leader may be responsible for mentoring new employees.
      By: Elenathewise
      A shift leader may be responsible for mentoring new employees.