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What Does a General Manager Do?

Almost every major company will have a general manager (GM), irrespective of the industry. This position is most commonly seen in corporations, and if you work in one, have you ever wondered what a GM does? If you have, then you are not alone. Let us understand what exactly is the role of someone in that position, how can someone get this role, why you should pursue this path, etc.

Do remember that a general manager is different from a chief executive officer (CEO) or managing director (MD); they are positioned at a high level in a company but not at an executive level.

Read: CEO vs Managing Director – Is a CEO Higher Than an MD?

Who is a general manager?

They are responsible for the overall operations of a company, which includes working towards meeting strategic goals, generating revenue, controlling expenses, supervising employee activity, etc. Their job is somewhat holistic but primarily revolves around the company’s operations, as mentioned before. 

What are the major roles and responsibilities of a general manager? 

As mentioned above, a GM focuses on an organization’s operations. But the role is important as it becomes the guiding light of the company. Here are some of the roles and responsibilities: 

Role of a general manager

  • Supervising – This role comes with the responsibility of overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company and one of the main roles is supervising department-level managers. This helps to establish a certain kind of work environment as well. They are responsible for hiring, coaching, training, and disciplining these managers.  
  • Setting a direction – A GM works on a company level rather than just a department level. They help different department heads to align their goals with the company goals, therefore giving direction to each department.  
  • Collaborating – GMs are a link between departments and the company executives. They are the ones who convey the ongoing activities of individual departments to the company’s executives.
  • Budgeting -Responsible for budgeting resources for hiring, equipment, supplies, and marketing. 

Responsibilities of a general manager

  • Planning and overseeing everyday operations
  • Designing strategies based on set goals
  • Maintaining budgets and optimizing expenses
  • Scheduling staff meetings to discuss issues and points of improvement 
  • Evaluating and improving productivity 
  • Reporting the workings to upper management
  • Enabling proper staff health and safety regulation management

It is important to note that there can be additional responsibilities depending on the industry they are working in.

What are the required skills for a general manager?

General manager as a title sounds quite common and simple, but the skills required are not so simple. They have to cooperate with multiple departments, work with various individuals, and handle diverse roles, the skills required for their job profile are quite complex.

Here are some of the skills required for a general manager

  • Good communication skills: Someone in this role have to work with a myriad of people. Be it entry-level employees or upper management. Hence, communication skills such as written and verbal skills are very important.
  • Problem-solving skills: Many employees and managers reach out to general managers for help. Taking this into consideration, they need to be on their toes and hone their problem-solving skills.
  • Time management skills: Working on several tasks at once requires good time management. This gives a general manager the ability to finish their work smoothly.
  • Leadership skills: A general manager is responsible for motivating and guiding the employees and managers of different departments under them. Having leadership skills help them to do the same efficiently. 
  • Business administration skills: A general manager’s work should not be restricted to the department level. They should also take the bird’s eye view and tie up the department goals to company goals and work in accordance with it. 

What is a general manager’s salary?

As the skills required for the role are complex and multi-dimensional, the compensation given to them is based on the same. According to Indeed.com, the average salary is $59,208 per year, while according to Talent.com, the average salary is $57,964 per year or $29.73 per hour. A first-time general manager can get up to $47,500 per year on average. This can vary based on the industry and the city you work in.

What are the required qualifications to be a general manager?

A person should ideally get a bachelor’s degree in the field of their choice and then get a master’s degree, preferably in business management. Here is the Global MBA course offered by the Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management at Northwood University that can be useful if you aspire to be a general manager. 

Steps to become a general manager 

Other than education, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that you are going in the direction. These steps are: 

  1. Ensure you have experience in the field you decide to work in. This could be done by working immediately after your master’s or an internship during your education. Having industry knowledge gives great insights into managing the different departments.
  2. Volunteer for different projects at your company. This will help you meet people throughout the company and gain additional skills
  3. Consider job rotation. Working with other departments helps acquire an all-around experience. 

Thus, the general manager of a company focuses on not one but multiple aspects of the company and ensures that its workings are efficient and on the road to achieving its set goals.

FAQs

  • What makes a great general manager?
    A great general manager is someone who develops department goals while keeping company goals in hindsight. They are also someone who leads personnel reviews to identify good performers and is willing to make tough calls when necessary. Their approach to work should be dynamic and flexible rather than sticking to the standard approach.
  • Is the role of a general manager a high position?
    A general manager is in a high position as they are the ones handling several departments. They might be handling a complete branch of a company. They report to the executives of their company, such as the CEO or CFO.
  • How many years does it take to be a general manager?
    Typically, it takes 10 to 15 years after completing your master’s degree to become a GM. The average age would be 44 years old in the US, but with hard work, one can get the role in their early 30s. 
  • Can anyone be a general manager?
    Yes, anyone with the proper education and leadership experience can become a general manager. Although an MBA degree is preferred, getting this role with a college degree and a general management certification course is not uncommon.
  • What are the 3 major roles of a general manager?
    The three major roles are as follows:
  1. Setting goals for growth and designing a strategy accordingly
  2. Controlling budgets and expenses
  3. Managing and motivating employees for increasing productivity
  • What is next after the general manager?
    A person can look forward to advancing to an executive position after being in this post for a few years. Depending on your expertise, you can apply for a CEO or CFO position. 
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