The Most Effective General Managers Essay

1. Executive summary

According to Boyer and Associates (2010), a General Manager (GM) “is not a job but a position”. He further states that a GM is a focal point and has the authority to impact immediately any area of a business. This tells us that such a position must be occupied by someone that has relevant experience, the right attitude and necessary skills to make a positive contribution.

It is therefore crucial to understand the characteristics to look for when employing a GM. In this report, your attention will be drawn to the most relevant characteristics to be possessed by a GM.

2. Research findings

Two of your GMs were interviewed as part of the research. One was from the Pietermaritzburg sub-cluster and the other one in Durban sub-cluster. The survey was also extended to the Public Sector and the Non-profit Organizations in order to get a bird’s eye view in the matter. The research findings were, among others, as follows:

* The adverts of the GM posts have many gaps that need to be addressed.

* There is no plan to identify existing potential and talent.

* The recruitment and selection process also not comprehensive.

* Shortcomings were identified with one of the GMs I interviewed.

* More research findings attached for your perusal as Appendix 1.

3. How to find the most effective General Managers

Christ, S. (2011) states that successful restaurant GMs combine management skills and culinary knowledge. GMs do not need to be experts of everything. However, they should have the understanding and knowledge of all functions they manage. The most appropriate characteristics that one needs to possess, in order to be an effective GM, are as follows:

4.1. Experience

* Must have 5 years experience as a Store Manager and a 3 year track record of establishing relationships with vendors.

* Must have 3 years experience in developing marketing strategies that led to increased profits and business.

* Possess experience and proven track record in reducing costs at a restaurant that employed him/her.

* A minimum of 3 years involvement on planning for the restaurant daily functioning. This should involve all functions within a restaurant.

* Minimum of 3 years financial management experience in a fast food restaurant. Without this experience it would be difficult to monitor the financial position of the business.

* Customers are the most important stakeholders in a fast food business. A minimum of 3 years working with customers both at an operational and management level.

* A minimum of 3 years doing human resources management. Slack, Chambers and Johnston (2010-236) argues that “human resource strategy is the overall long-term approach to ensuring that an organization’s human resources provide a strategic advantage”. If personnel are managed by an inexperienced General Manager, the business will struggle to meet its strategic business objectives.

4.2. Qualifications required

* Must have passed matriculation and in possession of Senior Certificate.

* Possess a valid code 8 driver’s license and be computer literate.

* A Diploma in Hospitality is also an important requirement. According to Ms L. Barrett from the Nandos Scottsville (2012:1), at least a one year Diploma or a National Certificate in Hospitality should be possessed by a General Manager.

* A 3 year Degree in Business Management is a must have. This helps the GM to understand not only the Operations, but also to be able to manage finances, human resources, marketing and sales more effectively.

* It would be an added advantage for a General Manager to have a postgraduate qualification. Mrs M. Linda form the KZN Department of Public Works (2012:1), stated that a postgraduate qualification for a GM proves that he/she has gone an extra mile in positioning himself/herself for a demanding position. He/she is likely to empower employees.

* The changing economic conditions of South Africa will soon require a GM to possess a postgraduate qualification in order to cope. This can also be explored as an option from now going forward.

4. Possible shortfalls in general management

One of the shortfalls is that, not all the time that a GM using charismatic leadership style may be fully effective. Boyer and Associates stated that charismatic leaders, “…are threatened by individuals who are free thinkers and strive to develop their own skills”.

Myres (2012) from Milpark Business School stated that, GMs who used to be experts in some functions find it difficult to adjust to management. This could mean an organization is not being fully managed when Managers are not managing.

If a GM has limited managerial experience, tasks are delegated without accountability. Things go loose and later the organization operates at an average level. This links to the inability of identifying potential and creativity that needs to be enhanced. Staff never finds satisfaction in these cases.

A GM that fails to take quick but informed decisions may delay business growth. However, some decisions require that a GM consults with the person who supervises him/her.

Some GMs fear to take decisions or to raise professional advises as they may be fired for doing so. Walton (2012) reported that Gary Webster was fired by his Toronto Transit Commission after providing a professional opinion that the company could not afford more subways. This may compromise loyalty of the GM.

5. Recommendations It is highly recommended that the adverts for the GMs’ posts require all of the above experiences and qualifications to be possessed by applicants. These would help in screening the applicants even before they think of forwarding their applications. The Key Result Areas must also be included in the post advert so that the applicants can know beforehand what is expected of them.

Many people aspire to be GMs in your organization. Kindly conduct a Skills Audit and identify talent that exists. This could be the best avenue to develop your future GMs. Duma, (2012:1) from the KZN Department of Public Works stated that, “in many organization, talent and potential is widely dispersed but grossly under-utilized”. When potential is identified, it would be in the best interest of the organization to send such people for further training and skills development.

Your organization need to comply with the international standards. The Global Reporting Initiative (2011) (GRI) and King 3 Reporting Framework stipulate that listed companies must develop a structured programme for identifying and enhancing internal talent and creativity. They also call for structured Capacity Building Programmes.

The leadership style should be verified during the interviews and recruitment processes. Dreher and Dougherty (2002:159) stated that performance diagnosis and coaching are an important part of a performance management system. They further say the manager and an employee can then work together to remove barriers to performance. Different leadership styles would be expected from a General Manager as they are faced with different challenging situations that would require different styles of leadership.

Training, education and development is one of the fundamental elements in ensuring job satisfaction and increased productivity. Milpark Business School (2012:49) states that, providing suitable opportunities…means that [employees] can give the best of their abilities and thus contribute to the achievement of organizational goals and objectives.

It also is important to vet all the candidates that are successful in the interviews before the number one candidate is phoned to tell him about the his successful application. The vetting should involve checking criminal records and how they conduct their own finances. Also there is a need to confirm qualifications with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

Any negative vetting result might reflect the character and the personality of the candidate which may ultimately affect the business in a long run. Candidates with criminal records must not be employed unless it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the candidate has gone through intensive corrective and counseling services. It would be risky to employ someone with theft or murder charges. After vetting, then the right candidate can be employed.

The appointment letter of the GM should clearly reflect all his/her rights, employer rights and the reporting structures. The letter should also state that he/she would be expected to sign a performance contract with the immediate Supervisor within 2 months of resuming duties.

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