General managers plan, oversee and coordinate the operations of businesses and organizations. They also formulate policies. General managers often have overall responsibility for a company or an organization. A general manager oversees all the departments. They achieve their objectives by directing employees. They should be skilled at hiring effective middle managers.
Those in general management positions oversee the cost and revenue aspects of a company. They also direct strategic planning functions. General managers take directions from top executives.
A general manager needs to organize divisions or departments in order for employees to know precisely their role in the company. They also need a thorough understanding of the activities of each department.
Presidents and chief executive officers are basically the general manager of their business. Those with job titles such as managing director, product manager, segment manager, regional vice president and branch manager also have general management responsibilities.
Some companies provide the title of general manager to employees in charge of separate operating units, such as one store of a department store chain. In consumer product businesses, general managers are sometimes called brand manager or category manager.
In professional services companies, a general manager might be given a title such as managing director, managing partner or senior partner. General managers are often called executive director in non-profit enterprises. Other job titles are plant manager, plant superintendent, store manager and warehouse manager.
- Direct the activities of all the departments
- Determine if the company has reached its goals
- Manage activities of producing products or providing services
- Evaluate sales and activity reports and financial statements
- Determine areas that need program improvement and cost reduction
- Manage staff and assign specific tasks
- Oversee a company's financial and budget activities
- Establish and implement objectives, policies and procedures
- Determine goods and services to be offered
- Write reports for senior executives
General managers are usually provided with comfortable offices. General managers work at least 40 hours per week. They often work overtime. Travel is often part of the job primarily due to traveling to the head office or to meet with managers from other divisions.
A general manager should have strong communication, interpersonal and motivational skills. Strong administration and management abilities are important. They should be good at problem solving, be detailed oriented and effective at delegating responsibility. They need to have good judgement to make good decisions. Being an effective leader is a vital part of the occupation.
Salaries for general managers vary greatly, however, in 2008 the median annual wage for general managers was $91,570. Most general managers receive stock options and/or bonuses. Employment of general managers is forecasted to grow as fast as average for all occupations through 2014. Those in general management positions often move up to top executive positions. They may also be hired as general managers by larger companies.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
The education requirements for general managers vary depending on the type of business. Employers usually prefer general managers to have at least a bachelor's degree in business administration or an appropriate subject. Some companies prefer a master's degree in business administration. However, occasionally employees move up to general manager positions without a college degree. Useful college courses include accounting, management, industrial relations and finance.
Many businesses provide executive training programs. Typically, personnel at college placement offices can help graduating students connect with organizations that have executive training programs. The most important qualification of a general manager candidate is proven success in lower management positions. Often general manager positions are filled by company employees, however sometimes the job is filled from outside the company.
- American Management Association
- Institute of Certified Professional Managers
- National Management Association
The major employers include private companies, nonprofit institutions, public sector organizations, building equipment contractors, and architectural, engineering and related services. Other major employers are manufacturing industries; professional, scientific and technical services, government and retail trade.
Schools for General Managers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.