The foundation for a general manager job description consists of management, leadership and the role of rendering decisions. In some instances, general managers (GMs) and chief executive officers (CEOs) may have some functions and responsibilities that overlap.
However, the chief executive usually takes a more global view of the organization, while the GM focuses on the day-to-day details.
Job Overview: What Does a General Manager Do?
A general manager oversees an organization’s daily operations. Managing personnel, budgets and resources is a key element of the GM’s job.
Other general tasks include quality assurance and preventing unnecessary delays in the performance of employees or equipment. GMs may rely on assistant managers or division managers for some of these functions.
General Manager – Job Duties and Responsibilities
- Formulates and administers policies on topics such as employee conduct and discipline, use of company property, accounting, and handling of money;
- Evaluates department or division performance through the examination of revenues, costs, sales, service volume, and other statistical data and are in charge of developing short and long term strategic plans;
- Hires, terminates, and reassigns department, division or site heads, as well as supervisors and other human resources;
- Sets employees’ work hours and shifts;
- Plans and allocates the use of equipment, materials, other assets, and human resources;
- Mediates conflicts among employees;
- Reports to top-level executives, such as the chief operation officer (COO) and the chief executive officer.
General Manager – Essential Skills
Management Skills. General managers routinely must switch their focus from doing themselves some tasks to delegating responsibilities.
Management skills include the instruction and development of employees and the enforcing of company-wide policies. They also ensure the adequacy of supplies, inventory, equipment and other necessary items to conduct business tasks.
The responsibility for ensuring that departments and the organization as a whole stay within budgets falls ultimately on the general manager’s shoulders.
Decision-Making Skills. Personnel decisions are a prominent part of the general manager job description. Based on performance and budget factors, GMs determine whether to hire, terminate, reassign staff members or eliminate or create new positions.
Time-Management Skills. GMs often face multiple issues and deadlines at or near the same time.
To have sufficient time to meet them, GMs delegate tasks and review calendars and schedules kept by them or their assistants.
Setting priorities for tasks is also an important part of a GM’s time management prowess.
Becoming a Professional General Manager
General managers normally need at least college education and extensive experience in management. Depending on the company, a GM must have either worked in the company or the industry.
Lateral moves are available for those with a general manager work history.
Qualifications & Training
At a minimum, general managers must have a bachelor’s degree typically in business administration. However, for many companies, a master’s degree in business administration is preferred.
GMs may also have educational backgrounds that fit the particular industry. For instance, pharmaceutical firms may have chemistry, medical science and biology degree holders as general managers.
The GMs of some restaurants or hotels hold degrees in restaurant management or hospitality management as they need to know firsthand what the industry is about.
Many GMs have worked their way up in a company through hard work and perseverance. Those are the most valuable to a business as they know firsthand all the underpinnings of both the company and the industry they operate in, and usually can make the best decisions.
Skills required for a general manager may include all of the above, depending on the company.
Experience plays a prominent role in becoming a general manager. In some companies, a general manager can be hired based solely on experience and move up the ranks. For example, general managers in transportation and retail trade companies often fall into this category.
General managers for sports teams may have been players and, afterward, serve in front-office positions or as talent scouts.
Where an undergraduate or graduate degree is required, many years of management experience or even prior work as a general manager is preferred or required.
General managers often work more than 40 hours a week. Depending on the company, work shifts may include nights and weekends.
Furthermore, in high-profile companies or industries, general managers make themselves available for media interviews which may occur outside normal business hours.
General managers in retail or service industries work much of the time the establishments are open.
For instance, restaurant GMs often work nights and weekends, when diner traffic is typically the highest.
Where retail stores and establishments operate 24 hours, the GM may rely on assistant managers to handle or be on call for irregular hours.
Job Outlook & Career Prospects
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018 report, general managers earn an annual salary close to $124,000 per year.
Those in the 75th percentile have salaries of at least $157,000. Additionally, the highest salaries come in the “Monetary Authorities-Central Bank” sector, at $214,000.
The Bureau projects a six percent rise of top executive positions (general managers and CEOs) from 2018 through 2028 nationwide. But the creation of new companies serves as the primary catalyst for new openings.
With a decline in the rate of business starts, available employment now tends to be concentrated across fewer organizations.
The best prospects for advancements are available for those with prior experience as department or division heads. We suggest reading about a similar position, the operations manager, to get an overview of the field of management.
To conclude, becoming a general manager is a highly-competitive affair. Job openings, compared with other positions, tend to be scarce because of the slow growth of new business ventures.
Most GMs have logged sizable experience in their organizations or in management roles. Similarly, job seekers with similar characteristics have the best prospects for landing these positions.
And if you’re an employer looking for the perfect GM for your business, here’s how a bullet-proof job description template should look like.
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