What to Look For in an Assistant Manager

Great companies are populated by great employees. While a top general manager is necessary, it’s often not sufficient for the genuine long-term success of any company. Businesses that genuinely succeed and flourish over the long run have owners or general managers who possess the vision, wisdom and courage to identify, attract, hire and mentor great assistant managers.

By securing and mentoring the right assistant managers, you will have significantly more time to do what someone in your position should be doing. With more time for strategic thinking and developing multi-year business plans, your business will run more efficiently and profitably. 

Following are the attributes that savvy general managers look for when they hire their key assistants.

Complementary skills – Good assistants are typically not clones of their general manager, but rather bring new and different talents to the managerial mix. For example, a "low-tech" general manager would be particularly well-served to hire someone who really understands the many "high-tech" tools that are available and applicable to the specific business needs of the company.

Practical experience While in no way diminishing the fundamental importance of a formal, industry-specific education, good assistants also need relevant hands-on experience before they are truly ready to function effectively. Ideally, this practical experience can and should be garnered in a variety of positions within the company or another company in the same industry.

Loyalty Good assistants in any profession must be totally loyal to their boss. Anything less is simply unacceptable. "Office politics" might make for a good television sitcom, but they make for a bad assistant manager. There is more than a modicum of truth in the old saying, "When the boss looks good, everyone looks good." Effective assistant managers fully trust in the experience and knowledge of their bosses, and, in doing so, earn over time the complementary respect and admiration of their bosses.

Good work ethic The successful assistant manager is someone who is willing and able to put in the necessary time it takes to help make the business a success. Nine-to-fivers need not apply. The importance of hard-working assistants cannot be overemphasized.

Desire to be a general manager someday Today's assistant manager is potentially tomorrow's general manager. Someone who is content just to be an assistant manager without fervently aspiring to become a general manager someday is, generally speaking, not someone who most general managers would want on their management team. (There are always exceptions, of course.)

Passion and enthusiasm for the industry Successful assistant managers are those people who genuinely love their work and the particular industry they are in.

A willingness to be creative The truly successful assistant manager is someone who is willing to think outside the proverbial box. Better yet, he or she doesn't think about boxes at all. A common shortcoming of newer assistant managers is that they are, on occasion, too rules-oriented and/or too rigid. Industry-specific sense comes to most assistant managers over time, especially when they are working for a mature, supportive and nurturing general manager.

An interesting person Finally, truly successful assistant managers are not one-dimensional. They have creative, fulfilling personal lives and a myriad of interests and activities independent of their work.

About the Author:

Norm Spitzig, principal at Master Club Advisors, continues to inspire and challenge business leaders worldwide. For more information, please contact Norm at normspitzig@hotmail.com, (352) 735-5693, or visit www.MasterClubAdvisors.com.