What Is a General Manager (GM)?

A general manager (GM) is responsible for all or part of a department's operations or the company's operations, including generating revenue and controlling costs. In small companies, the general manager may be one of the top executives. In hierarchical organizations, GMs rank above most employees but below corporate-level executives. The responsibility and importance associated with the position may vary among companies and often depend on the organization's structure.

Key Takeaways:

  • A general manager is expected to improve efficiency and increase profits while managing the overall operations of a company or division.
  • General manager duties include managing staff, overseeing the budget, employing marketing strategies, and many other facets of the business.
  • General managers often report to higher-level managers or executives and supervise lower-level managers.
  • General managers hold various titles, such as CEO, branch manager, or operations manager.

Understanding the Role of a General Manager (GM)

The GM supervises lower-level managers. These lower-level managers may be in charge of several smaller divisions but report directly to the GM. The GM gives specific directions to each department head. As part of this supervision, a general manager oversees the hiring, training, and coaching of lower-level managers. The GM may lay out incentives for workers and assess the efficiency of departments while offering strategic plans for the business based on company goals.

The general manager is responsible for all aspects of a business, including daily operations, administrative functions, and finances. Because of the enormity of the role, a big part of the job is effective delegation.

To achieve goals, GMs collaborate with higher-level managers and executives and with the employees that they supervise. This person is responsible for budgeting resources for marketing, supplies, equipment, and hiring. Because of their high level of responsibility, complex duties, and the need for extensive relevant experience, GMs earn more than entry-level employees.

Qualifications for General Manager (GM)

A GM typically gains experience in a lower-level management position before being hired as or promoted to the position of GM. GMs 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 employees, and make sound decisions for the company. They must also be skilled at budgeting, planning, and strategy.

Types of General Managers (GMs)

A GM may hold various titles. Overall, their role is the same, which is to oversee general operations and manage high-level functions, such as finances, marketing, and staffing. In the c-suite, the chief executive officer (CEO) is considered the GM overseeing the entire company. At the departmental level, the GM oversees a certain process in a company or is in charge of a particular unit or segment.

The GM sits just below the CEO in the executive suite in terms of rank. A GM runs a line of business, whereas the CEO is the GM of all lines of business in a company.

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

Operations managers have a similar job to GMs. Like GMs, operations managers create strategies that increase efficiency and profit for a company. They also work with several departments to maintain the overall effectiveness of the business.

Special Considerations

While a GM is responsible for all aspects of a business, an operations manager is only responsible for operations and production. A GM's responsibilities are broader in scope and include HR, marketing, and strategy. An operations manager's role tends to be more specific, and their experience is in a particular niche industry.