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The General Manager

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Read the text and say what a general manager is concerned with.

General management decision making requires the coordination of all aspects of business into an integrated management program. In other words, general managers are concerned with strategy formulation and strategy implementation. This means a continual assessment of what business to be in and how one will do business both in general and very specific terms. The functional areas of business – finance, marketing, production and human resources – are essential for undertaking general management problems. The general manager must relate financial issues to a proposed marketing program, changes in techniques in production to human resources implication, and so on.

The meaning of general management varies by circumstances. In a small one-person business, the chief decision maker has to be an all-round general manager capable of longer-term planning as well as daily “fire fighting” since there is no specialized staff to delegate these responsibilities to. In larger firms, the general management tasks are essentially the same, though a little more complicated. However, there are usually several people who share the general management workload. Even the titles used to describe the individuals responsible for general management vary from company to company: president; managing director; vice-president, administration; and so on. Here, the title General Manager will refer to an individual who has overall responsibility for a business or major unit of business.

What are the responsibilities of a general manager? Usually they include the following:

1. Long-term planning for new products, production/operation processes, new markets, financial flexibility, and organizational changes.

2. Finding and training competent subordinates. The general manager’s goal would be to delegate as much responsibility and authority as possible to subordinates in finance, marketing, production, and human resources in order to be free for the major decisions concerning the overall company.

3. Coordination. The general manager’s goal would be to ensure that the various activities of the company reinforce one another, rather than work at cross-purposes. The general manager would act as a liaison, ensuring that coordination is sought and achieved among the various functional areas of the business.

4. Decision making. The general manager will make decisions that subordinates cannot make, either because of disagreements of because they lack a sufficiently broad perspective on the issues that need to be considered.

In short, the general manager must understand all functional areas of business and be especially competent in human resources management. As one can see, the general manager is concerned with strategic making (longer-term directions for the business) and operational decision making (shorter-term specific actions to accomplish shorter-term goals). The general manager delegates, coordinates, and facilitates decisions to the extent possible, and where necessary makes the “big” decisions affecting company welfare. To do so, he or she must understand what objectives are being sought, what strengths and weaknesses characterize the company, and what options there are for improvement given the operating circumstances. To perform this demanding role adequately, the general manager must be able to appraise the company and its environment thoroughly and objectively.

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