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The GM (Part 1)

Give power, get freedom: your GM should be your substitute

SAN FRANCISCO — There are reasons to consider hiring a general manager (GM) to run the daily operations of your company. Would you like:

To spend more time on opportunities that will make your business thrive?

Fewer responsibilities demanding your immediate attention?

To expand into another market, business or career?

More time away from the business?

The freedom to develop your professional or personal capabilities through outside learning opportunities?

To take a sabbatical?

To spend more time with family and friends?

A trial or permanent retirement? An alternative succession plan? Peace of mind when an emergency leave of absence is necessary?

To continue to own the business, but not operate it?

If you already employ a general manager, are you taking advantage of what she or he can provide to you and your business? Do you trust them enough to let them do the job as it is designed to be done? Do you give them the responsibility and the authority to do what is in the best interest of the company?

Many of the GMs I meet are either owners’ assistants operating in a “gopher” role or line supervisors with an overblown title.

In both situations, the staff is well aware that the power lies elsewhere — strongly in the hands of the owner. These roles may serve a valid purpose, but they are not general manager responsibilities.

A fully functioning GM is a huge asset to a business that has the profit level sufficient to support the position. When the daily operations have a strong manager, the owner is freed to be a more effective entrepreneur who can build a more profitable business that fulfills a grander vision.

Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, in the case of owner burnout, a GM can provide confidence to take much needed time off. Between these two alternatives lie many benefits.

A typical general manager position description might be: Fabricare General Manager.


This position is responsible for managing and developing the company revenues, profits, processes, personnel, production, and physical and financial assets through his/her personal efforts and the efforts of direct reports.

Always the focus is on the short- and long-term goals of the company as well as quality and service levels. The GM will be responsible for making necessary changes to the company’s current methods to optimize competitive advantage.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].