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What does a General Manager do?

Sherry Holetzky
Sherry Holetzky

While there are also specific tasks that a general manager is responsible for, his or her knowledge and abilities must include general or basic know-how in many different areas. In many cases, this person is charged with ensuring that other managers or supervisors have their departments, subordinates, and duties well-organized and are working competently and efficiently to meet various goals.

The general manage is often an overseer, a person that other managers meet with to discuss ideas, issues, and concerns. In a small company, he or she may be in charge of, or oversee, nearly every function. Being a general manager is a huge responsibility, but being a good one can create a great deal of opportunity for future advancement, especially in larger companies.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

General manager duties often involve troubleshooting, problem-solving, and quick, firm decision making. This is the go-to person for many others in a company, including his or her higher-ups. He or she can offer insight into many areas of the company’s operations, and is a trusted and reliable presence.

The general manager is able to advise others and take pressure off of those in senior management. Some of these duties include the ability to quickly and accurately assess information and share that information with senior management often in concise reports. These reports may also include recommendations for time or money saving ideas or other ways to better meet goals.

A general manager must also learn to delegate responsibility. The manager cannot do everything but can wisely surround him or herself with reliable people to assure that things run smoothly. This means he or she will have to have to be a good judge of character and be very aware of the strengths and weaknesses of those who will be assigned specific tasks.

He or she must also place trust in those given such tasks and praise and encourage them for a job well done. A wise manager will also make himself or herself accessible to those chosen for such tasks. Precisely identifying goals, and laying out a clear plan to achieve them, will help employees as well as other managers know exactly what is expected of them.

Overall, being a good general manager means being a good leader. A good leader is one people want to follow because they know she can be trusted and will not demand anything of them that she is not willing to do herself. A good leader leads by example and helps those he leads see that he has their best interests, as well as the interests of the whole group or company, in mind.

Discussion Comments


You can get promoted to a general management job if you stay with one company for many years. My friend started out as a sales clerk in a clothing store, and within three years, she had become the general manager.

As a sales clerk, she helped customers put together outfits and accessories, and she rang up their purchases. She was so good with people and making sales that the manager promoted her to assistant manager.

When the general manager decided to relocate, my friend was a shoe-in for her job. She makes a much nicer salary now, and she has more control over her hours. Best of all, she has control over the actions of the employees and can hire new ones if necessary.


I work at a newspaper, and while our general manager knows the basics of what each department does, he does not know how to step in and do those jobs if people don’t show up to work. After the bad snowstorm that we had last year that forced fifteen employees to stay at home, he decided that he needed to commit to learning more about what each department does and how they accomplish it.

He spent a few days shadowing workers in each area, asking them questions and having them explain what they were doing to him. He really wanted to be able to fill their shoes in the event of a catastrophe.

Though he could never have done the job of fifteen people at once, it would have helped for him to be able to do just one or two of the duties covered by others on that snowy day. The paper just did not get published that day, and he wanted to prevent that from ever happening again.


@Oceana - A general manager’s job description varies from place to place. Some companies do require them to fire and hire people, but others have human resources departments that handle that.

Some places even make the supervisors do it, and they are a step below the general manager. I worked as a supervisor at a furniture factory years ago, and I always hated having to be the one to deliver the bad news.

General managers might have to simply relay upper management’s decisions to fire people. For example, if a company decided to cut three jobs and the senior managers looked at performance reports to determine who to fire, then the general manager might have no say in it.


Do general manager responsibilities include firing people? I have always assumed that the manager has the ultimate say-so, but I didn’t think of him having to answer to senior management.

Does senior management order him to fire certain people, or do they do the dirty work themselves? There is a general manager job available in my town, and I’m thinking of applying for it, but I don’t want the responsibility of letting people go. I would have to know that I wouldn’t be required to do the firing in order to hold the job.

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