Shift Manager Job Description

With a strong commitment to customer service and the ability to oversee other workers, shift managers are key components to operating successful dining establishments. Fast-food joints, restaurants, bars, casinos, and other places that offer guests items to eat and drink depend on their leadership to create a pleasant, reliable experience. Shift managers generally work full-time—often more than 40 hours per week—and may be called in on short notice when the employer needs extra help. Shifts vary based on when the facility is open and can include early mornings, nights, weekends, and holidays. During busy periods, such as a lunchtime rush, the workplace can be crowded and stressful.


Shift Manager Duties and Responsibilities

A shift manager’s duties will vary from restaurant to restaurant depending on its location, size, hours, and cost, but some central tasks are almost always part of the job. Our analysis of job postings reveals that prospective shift managers should be ready to do the following:

Monitor Staff

Besides scheduling hours and assigning tasks, shift managers keep an eye on how others are performing. They offer guidance and feedback in order to help the employees do their jobs better, and they take responsibility for terminating if improvement doesn’t happen. When employees have questions, they know they can turn to the shift manager for assistance. If interpersonal conflicts develop between staff members, the shift manager works to resolve matters.

Upkeep Facility

A clean, well-maintained facility attracts customers and promotes safety. Shift managers stay aware of their surroundings and take action as needed, such as refilling napkin holders, assigning someone to clean up a spill, or hiring pest control. They also ensure the building and its workers comply with health and fire regulations, such as keeping exits clear and observing proper food storage techniques.

Maintain Operations

When a crowd is unusually large, a staff member calls in sick, or the kitchen is getting behind on orders, shift managers pitch in to keep operations flowing. Actions might include running a cash register, delivering orders, refilling drinks, or cleaning tables.

Interact with Guests

When a visitor is dissatisfied with an order, the shift manager steps in to rectify the problem. Shift managers also may check in on diners to ensure everything is going well and to thank them for coming.


Keeping the general manager and other higher brass informed about activities, inventory, and ideas is part of being a lower-level leader. Shift managers also may keep track of budgets and expenses, attend meetings, and assist in hiring new employees.


Shift Manager Skills and Qualifications

From the patience to deal with hungry customers to the clear communication needed to help the staff understand directions, shift managers possess admirable interpersonal skills. Other abilities that contribute to getting the job done include:

  • Leadership – Shift managers raise morale, make decisions, and confidently guide staff under their supervision
  • Teamwork – Collaborating with others to boost performance ultimately leads to happy patrons and increased profits
  • Physical Requirements – Working at a food establishment often involves being on one’s feet for many hours at a time; some employers require the ability to lift and carry 30 – 50 pounds
  • Multitasking – Adjusting to ever-changing demands and prioritizing tasks is par for the course
  • Reliability – Showing up on time and maintaining proper dress etiquette set the tone for the staff


Shift Manager Education and Training

There are no minimum educational requirements to become a shift manager, though most possess a high school diploma. Upscale restaurants often prefer candidates with some post-secondary training or even a degree in hospitality or food-service management. Serious candidates present resumes featuring documented success at lower positions within the restaurant industry. Knowledge of a second language is a plus. New hires can expect a period of training to become thoroughly versed in their company’s policies and procedures. Places serving liquor may have age restrictions, and some employers want shift managers to possess a valid driver’s license and their own vehicle in order to run errands such as dropping off deposits.


Shift Manager Salary and Outlook

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a shift manager is $27,138 per year. Workers on the low end of the pay scale make about $21,000 per year, while the highest paid shift managers earn roughly $43,000 annually.

According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of food service managers is expected to grow 9 percent between 2016 and 2026, primarily due to increased consumer demand for food prepared outside of the home. The field also is prone to a rather high turnover, creating a need to fill positions as current workers move on to other careers.


Helpful Resources

Learn more about becoming a shift manager by taking a look at these websites and books:

Restaurant Workers Association – This association is the go-to place for information about the food service industry.

The Best Shift of Your Life: The Restaurant Manager’s Guide to Success Outside the Restaurant – Get more out of your staff, your career, and your life with this book by Kathleen Wood that one reviewer calls “required reading for all managers in the food industry.”

Managing for Dummies – Filled with practical advice on topics of interest to shift managers, this book in the popular series builds competence and confidence.

Restaurant Manager – This LinkedIn group provides a community for its 18,000+ members to network and discuss industry issues.

How to Rock Restaurant Management: 5 Ingredients to Leading a Successful Team – Become the type of awesome leader employers want to head their teams with tips from this book by Katelyn Silva.


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