What Does an Assistant Manager Do? (And How to Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 11, 2022 | Published November 30, 2021

Updated September 11, 2022

Published November 30, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Assistant managers offer support to managers and general managers and perform duties that assist in a supervisory capacity. Many assistant managers are aspiring managers who are pursuing a career path through managerial stages of increasing seniority. Understanding what assistant managers do is key to following a career in management and moving from non-managerial roles to a more supervisory position. In this article, we answer the question "What does an assistant manager do?", explain what they are, outline the steps for becoming one, and list the skills of effective assistant managers.

What does an assistant manager do?

To answer the question, "What does an assistant manager do?", it's important to review the main duties they have and the skills they use in their daily tasks. Assistant managers are present in several industries, so understanding their function in relation to the managers they assist and the staff they help supervise is key to identifying potential career development opportunities in your industry. Assistant managers work hard to perform the following duties:

Coaching, motivating, and mentoring team members

While assistant managers are junior to store, restaurant or bar managers, they perform a key function in managing the general staff at a company. In some cases, the assistant manager is the first point of contact in coaching, mentoring and motivating staff, allowing the manager to focus on top-line concerns, such as budgets, promotions, and ordering. While a manager may establish the best coaching practices, it's often the assistant manager who provides daily direction and support to staff in their roles.

Related: Top Management Skills Every Manager Needs

Assist in creating and maintaining the budget

Maintaining a well-planned budget is key to effectively managing establishments in any industry. While the responsibility for creating budgets and ultimately adhering to them to make a profit belongs to the manager, the assistant manager is a key component in making sure that daily operations work within it. Receipting orders, overseeing staff hours, and daily expenses are all common duties that assistant managers perform to help maintain budgets. Assistant managers can also help in the creation of budgets by consulting with the manager on common costs or profit expectations.

Recruiting, training, and supervising new staff members

Because assistant managers work so closely with other staff, they can have a prominent role in the recruitment, training, and supervision of teams. Assistant managers can often sit in on interviews with new staff members or help to select the resumes of the most promising candidates. They also provide ongoing supervision and training of onboarded staff.

Providing insight to the management team

Assistant managers often spend more time performing customer-facing duties than their managers, and as such, can provide insight to supervisors about feedback from customers and even staff. In this way, assistant managers are valuable conduits between the activity of the establishment and the higher management. If customers have complaints that don't directly require the attention of the manager, an assistant manager can be a useful person to receive their feedback and resolve their problems.

Help facilitate promotional activity

Whether in retail, hospitality, or another industry which regularly implements promotional activity, assistant managers can be helpful in managing this. Assistant managers can help to oversee promotional materials such as posters, active discounts, staff initiatives are all in place and that the promotions run smoothly. Assistant managers may work off of promotional briefs outlining broader promotional plans, or react to flexible activities planned by the manager.

Related: What Are the Responsibilities of a Manager?

Provide support to staff

Although assistant managers primarily assist an establishment's manager, they also support the staff that they manage. If there are many staff members, it's common for the assistant manager to be the primary point of contact if they need support in their rostering, customer interactions, knowledge, or health. Staff often perceive assistant managers as being more accessible than higher-level managers and are more likely to approach them if they need help. If staff are feeling unwell and want to go home or wish to book paid leave, it's often the assistant manager who receives the request.

What is an assistant manager?

Past what an assistant manager does, what they are relates just as much to the context in which they work. Most commonly, assistant managers work in customer-facing establishments in the retail or hospitality industries. The assistant manager is the conduit between the managerial team and the staff. While the manager or supervisor makes more impactful decisions, the assistant manager helps them by performing much of the daily more detailed managerial duties. These could include supervising floor or wait staff during their shift, or filling in for the manager while they're off shift.

How to become an assistant manager

If you work in hospitality or retail, there may be an opportunity to become an assistant manager. There are many paths to becoming an assistant manager, but most involve hard work and initiative in the industry you decide to work in. Here are three helpful steps you can take to becoming an assistant manager:

1. Gain experience

The first step in becoming an assistant manager is to gain as much experience as possible in the industry you wish to work in. If you work in hospitality, this may mean being as involved in the running of the venue you work in as possible. If you work as a retail sales assistant, being proactive in your role in the store can give you extra experience that can help you get promoted to an assistant manager role. Being as proactive as possible in your position is vital to moving into an assistant manager position.

2. Develop leadership skills

Being an assistant manager means having a comprehensive knowledge of the industry you work in, be it retail or hospitality. Most commonly, assistant managers are senior or respected staff members who get promoted to the role. This is not always the case, as often establishments advertise an assistant manager position when there are no suitable existing staff members to promote. Regardless, developing the following leadership skills is the first step to becoming a viable option for an assistant manager:

  • Delegation: Delegation skills are the ability to assign tasks to the most appropriate people based on their availability, abilities, experience, and aspirations.

  • Communication: Being able to communicate clearly, concisely, and respectfully with your colleagues allows managers to do their job more efficiently and with minimal issues.

  • Organization: Effective managers can stay organized with their commitments, schedules, and time management.

Related: Why Is Time Management Important? And How to Manage Your Time

3. Seek further education or training

Another stage that can benefit your journey to an assistant manager position is to seek further education or training to develop your management skills formally. Many institutions host programs to train prospective and existing managers in tactics, skills, and principles to help them master leadership. Sometimes, these courses are also available to partake in online. While these don't guarantee a role as an assistant manager, they provide an advantage over other candidates when listed on a resume.

Related: What Is Manager Training? (Definition, Types, and FAQs)

Skills of effective assistant managers

Once an establishment has hired or promoted you into an assistant manager role, there are skills that effective assistant managers have that are worth developing. Assistant managers are in the unique position of being a junior role in relation to the manager, but more senior to other staff. Because of this, the skills that assistant managers require involve navigating this hierarchical dynamic. Here are some of the prominent skills that effective assistant managers have:

  • Interpersonal skills: Interpersonal skills are an individual's ability to interact with other people in such a way that promotes their workplace relationship and the objectives of the company. For assistant managers, this means maintaining respect but also authority with the staff they help manage.

  • Responsibility: Assistant managing is a role that comes with advanced responsibilities over staff, stock, and the running of the establishment. Effective assistant managers are able to handle the many areas of responsibility without neglecting any.

  • Leadership: Effective leadership of staff means being able to instruct and delegate, but also support staff members. Being able to lead with confidence and respect is key to being an effective assistant manager.

  • Listening and receptiveness: Assistant managers who can employ active listening are more effective in their role. Being receptive to feedback, concerns, and questions allows assistant managers to identify issues and solve them promptly.

  • Decision making and problem solving: Assistant managers often make decisions concerning the running of the establishment to help the manager achieve their objectives. Whether these are staff management, stock handling, or customer satisfaction decisions, decisive assistant managers are better equipt to handle the situation.

Related: 9 Ways to Improve Your Active Listening Skills


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