General manager – definition and meaning

A general manager or GM is someone in charge of managing a business or a certain area of a company. A GM makes sure a business works efficiently and is generating as much profit as possible.

Do not confuse the term with Chief Executive Officer or Managing Director. General managers are further down the management ladder.

General managers usually rank above most other employees in a company. However, in some cases, they can be below corporate-level executives. A general manager typically answers to either the business owners or the corporate executives.

General Managers have the responsibility of coordinating, planning, and making decisions that are in the best interests of the business.

Their responsibilities are to take care of daily operations of the business and create and implement strategies designed to help grow the business. They also manage staff and projects in the company. Additionally, they make strategic decisions.

The duties of a general manager will depend on the type of company and its size. What they do also depend on the company’s organizational structure.

BusinessDictionary.com says that general manager means the same as COO. COO stands for Chief Operating Officer.

General Manager - definition and qualities
A successful general manager needs to be a good all-rounder.

General manager – small and large companies

In a small business, they are in charge of more parts of the company compared to general managers of large businesses.

For example, in the hospitality industry, a general manager of a big chain hotel can be in charge of managing the staff and departments.

In a small hotel, on the other hand, they have more roles, such as staff hiring, and marketing campaigns. In small hotels, general managers work on finance strategies.

General manager – skills

General managers must have good oral and written communication skills. They need to be problem solvers and able to think clearly and quickly under pressure.

They need to be good team players who know how to motivate employees. Additionally, a good general manager must have time management skills.

In most cases, employees can become general managers if they work hard and do a good job. They may, however, have to wait some time before a position becomes vacant.

They should have a university degree, and ideally a post-graduate qualification, such as an MBA. Degrees in accounting or management are also helpful.

In some sectors, to be considered for a general management position, the candidate must have experience in the industry. Some employers also require specialization in specific areas.

Becoming a general manager?

If you would like to direct your career towards general management, you may find the following tips useful:

– Consider getting a post-graduate qualification. For example, an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) would be extremely helpful. There are also specialization courses in core management areas.

– Get involved or volunteer for projects where you can learn more about the company. You will also meet people, and in doing so acquire additional skills.

– Consider talking to your manager about job rotation, if it is available. You could also move into other departments. Working in different departments is useful because you will gain all-round experience.

Video – What makes a successful general manager

In this London Business School video, a panel talks about what makes a successful general manager.