Both assistant managers and team leaders help supervise groups of employees, ensuring that the team is making progress at meeting the organisation's goals. Although their broad purpose is similar, however, there are important differences between these two roles; in particular, they differ in their amount of involvement in management-level decisions.
A team leader is the most hands-on leadership position in most organisations. Team leaders work directly with employees, and may often simply be a member of the team given some additional responsibilities. Team leaders supervise the day-to-day running of a team, ensuring that objectives are being met, remaining alert for any potential problems, serving as a first tier of escalation and acting as a point of contact between the team and management.
An assistant manager has a wide range of responsibilities. While responsible for employee performance, an assistant manager also fulfills a number of other roles. Assistant managers may deal with scheduling for multiple teams of employees. Recruitment is another common duty for assistant managers, who may find themselves advertising positions and conducting job interviews. Training is another key part of the role; it is likely to be an assistant manager's responsibility to make sure that employees have the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs.
Although both team leaders and assistant managers are responsible for overseeing the work of groups of employees, there are some important differences between them. The main difference is that team leaders play very little role in company management decisions. They tend to have little or no input into hiring, strategy, discipline or other larger-scale decisions. They are given objectives and expected to achieve them, rather than having much input into what those objectives are. On the other hand, team leaders tend to have a much more personal knowledge of their team and its capabilities than an assistant manager.
As with all job titles, however, there is a wide range of variation in the responsibilities of assistant managers and team leaders from organisation to organisation. An assistant manager at a small business may manage a smaller team than a team leader at a large one, and both may be called on to step outside their usual roles, with the manager jumping in to provide hands-on assistance and the team leader contributing his or her experience to the hiring or training process.