What is a 'General Manager'

A general manager is a person in charge of a department within a company, but in small companies, the general manager may be one of the top executives. General managers commonly rank above most employees, but below corporate-level executives. The responsibility and importance associated with the position may vary from company to company depending on the structure of the company's corporate ladder.

BREAKING DOWN 'General Manager'

A general manager usually obtains experience in a lower-level management position before being hired as or promoted to general manager. General managers can advance by moving into top executive positions or to larger and more prestigious companies. They must have a thorough understanding of their departments or company's operations, be skilled at managing and leading the employees they supervise and make sound decisions for the company.

General Manager's Job Description

The general manager tends to supervise lower-level managers. These lower-level managers may be in charge of several smaller divisions. The general manager gives specific direction for each department head. As part of this supervision, a general manager oversees the hiring, training, coaching and disciplining of lower-level managers. This manager lays out incentives for workers and assesses the efficiency of departments while offering strategic plans for the business based on company goals.

The general manager collaborates with people higher up in the corporate structure and with those he supervises to achieve these goals. This person is responsible for budgeting resources toward marketing, supplies, equipment, and hiring. Because of the high level of responsibility for general managers, these employees make more money compared to entry-level employees.

General Manager Titles 

In certain businesses, the general manager will hold various titles. Overall, the function is the same, oversee general operations and manage high-level functions, such as the finances, marketing, and staffing. In the c-suite, the Chief Executive Officer is considered the general manager, overseeing the entire company. However, on a lower level, the general manager can hold various titles. Overall, the general manager tends to mean the person owns and oversees a certain process in a company or is in charge of a particular unit or segment.  

For example, at technology companies, the general manager is sometimes referred to as the product manager. The general manager of a certain bank location is called the branch manager. In a services company, providing consulting or similar services, a general manager might go by the title of managing partner or managing director. Consumer-focused companies selling products tend to call their general managers brand managers. 

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