Assistant managers are the lifeblood of any organization. Although a fantastic general manager may be in place, she should be focused on larger issues – such as business planning – as opposed to daily operational matters. The best assistant managers are coaches, leaders and mentors to their subordinates. At the same time, the smart general manager uses her quality assistant for advice and support, delegating to him the latitude required to succeed with everyday business.
Great assistant managers are loyal not only to their organizations, but to their general managers. With loyalty comes trust from above. The unified front presented by the general manager and her assistant inspires confidence in lower-level team members. Providing unwavering loyalty is reciprocal, aiding in the assistant's opportunities for advancement. Great assistant managers have disagreements with their GMs respectfully and always behind closed doors, further reinforcing the policies of the general manager and company to the rank and file.
Experience and Competency
It's hard to be credible as a leader without considerable experience. Employees look to exceptional assistants as career guides and mentors, aiding their progress as they work to achieve company directives. When an employee knows the assistant has been in her shoes, that manager's authority is increased. This authority and credibility is based on a demonstrable understanding of the roles of each employee and their jobs, showing a near expert-level grasp of those duties.
Empathy and Concern
Quality assistant managers demonstrate empathy and consideration to their charges. These displays of individual concern toward each member of the team helps bring down the inherent boss and employee barrier, making those employees more receptive to instruction and coaching. Additionally, assistants that have an ear for the concerns and suggestions of their employees engender a feeling of ownership in those team members, creating increased attention to their roles and a desire to succeed. Employees that feel their ideas have weight makes them feel more connected to the fate of their organization.
Passion and Work Ethic
Great assistant managers do not hide in an office behind a desk all day. Instead, better assistants get involved in the work of their employees, although not necessarily in a micro-managerial way. The drive and passion displayed by the assistant manager toward her industry is infectious, inspiring others and instilling confidence from her GM.
Desire to Advance
Although their employees may be sad to see them go, great assistant managers have no desire to stagnate in that role. Ambition is a trait all general managers should look for when evaluating assistant manager candidates. Better assistant managers should display the desire to take their boss' jobs, although not in a threatening or undermining way. Smart assistant managers and candidates understand that general managers have a hard time getting promoted without a suitable replacement in place. Even if a handful of assistant managers or candidates possess numerous desirable leadership traits, often the most ambitious are promoted for this very reason. However, the truly great assistant managers have the best interests of the company they work for in mind, not just a desire to advance for reasons of ego or status.