General and Operations Managers Overview

General and operations managers are among the top paid employees, however this also causes competition for the position to be strong. Only a small number of people apply for these jobs because of the extended hours, large amount of travel and constant pressure to come out on top. Most general and operations managers have at least a bachelors degree and experience, but education levels are significantly varied because each manager will have different obligations to fulfill.

Nature of the Work for General and Operations Managers

Every company has a particular set of goals that they desire to meet. It is the job of the general and operation managers to strategize and devise plans that will enable the company to attain their goals. General and operations managers belong to a larger labor group called top executives, which also include executive officers, chief operation officers, president, vice president, school superintendent, county administrator and mayor. Regardless of the title, all top executives work to create regulations and conduct operations of the business in private firms, government and nonprofit organizations.

The chief executive officer is the person who establishes the goals and policies of the company. The general and operations managers work closely with the chief executive officer to ensure that company conduct is in alignment with these goals. Within a government or nonprofit organization, the general and operations manager is responsible for finances and have the responsibility of overseeing the budget and directing the use of resources. Government general and operations managers often rely on a set of skilled assistants in order to aid with extra duties such as nominating citizens to boards and commissions, encourage economic development in their communities and promote business investments.

While the chief executive officer always has overall liability for the company, they may delegate other responsibilities to the general and operations managers, such as allowing them to supervise other departments and set rules and regulations of the organization on a daily basis. It is slightly different in a nonprofit organization, where the board of directors has the final authority on the company’s direction and the chief executive officer reports to the board.

Responsibilities vary depending on the needs of the organization. Small organizations like small manufacturers or independent retails stores the duties of the general and operations managers include, handling mergers and acquisitions, overseeing cash management activities, devise fundraising strategies to support growth of the organization, and supervise various investments of funds while managing associate risks.

General and operations managers are responsible for directing the operations of public or private organizations. They have many duties, such as supervising daily operations, creating policies and delegating how materials and human resources that cannot be classified into one area of management or administration, including purchasing, personnel or administrative services. Some of their responsibilities may coincide with those of the chief executive officer.

They will often work in comfortable offices with a large amount of support staff. While their schedules may be flexible, extended hours and working in evenings and on weekends should be expected.

Local, regional, national and sometimes international travel is required in order to successfully delegate and oversee all of the organization’s staff, customers and other executives. They may also attend meetings and conferences sponsored by professional associations. General and operations managers in larger organizations should expect job transfers between offices and subsidiaries.

A large amount of pressure to succeed is place on general and operations managers and depending on the organization this may mean driving profits, providing better service or meeting fundraising goals.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for General and Operations Managers

It is common for general and operations managers to have a bachelors degree or masters degree in business administrationliberal arts or another specialized discipline. The required level of education is dependent on the industry and goals of the organization in which the general and operations managers work.

Often, a lower-level manager will fill a general and operations manager position when there is an opening. In industries such as retail and transportation, someone with a college degree can work their way up through the company in order to eventually become a general manager. Chief executive officers prefer to hire those with managerial experience when they do hire from outside the organization.

Strong communication skills are necessary for this career, as general and operations managers must be able to communicate clearly and effectively to other departments and personnel. Applicants must be analytical in nature, have the ability to quickly analyze data and information, and be able to determine the relationships between many facets of the organization. They must be leaders, have self-confidence, decisiveness, flexibility, determination and sound business judgment.

Attending company training programs that teach a more in depth knowledge of company operations and policies can aid in advancement for this career. Employees may also participate in conferences and seminars that provide a broader knowledge of national and international policies specific to their organization, and may also help in making new contacts. Managers who have experience in a particular field such as accounting or engineering may attend company programs that are geared towards those specific specializations.

General and operations managers must also stay abreast on the latest trends in management by attending local or national training programs. These programs are sponsored by training organizations such as the Institute of Certified Professional Managers which offers the Certified Manager (CM) credential, which is earned after completing a training and passing an assessment. Managers of all levels of experience are able to attain this certification and although it is not required for advancement, it may aid in demonstrating management skills.

Employment and Job Outlook for General and Operations Managers

There are about 1,689,680 general and operations manager jobs held, and this is expected to remain about the same in the next ten years. Although the number of openings will demonstrate little to no change, there applicants must still expect keen competition due to the high level of salary and prestige that come along with the career. In some industries however, there will be a demand for this position as it is a necessary addition to every organization. For example, job growth in the health services industry is expected to boom, while a decline is expected in the manufacturing industries.

Also affecting general and operations manager’s employment growth are company mergers, in which some managers may be let go. As an organization grows, the number of general managers typically stays the same, so job growth is not common in this career. Usually, openings become available when a manager retires or transfers to a new position.

General and operations managers will have the best results if they are experienced, demonstrate strong leadership skills and the ability to increase company efficiency. As the global market expands, marketing, international economics, and knowledge of several languages will all be desirable skills.

Earnings and Salary for General and Operations Managers

A general and operations manager is one of the highest paid careers. Although, salary levels vary significantly depending on the level of responsibility, size of the firm, and length of service in the organization.

The median annual wage of general and operations managers is $92,650. The middle 50 percent earns between $62,900 and $137,020. Potential earnings vary by industry because of the different responsibilities that the job entails. Median annual wages by highest employing industries are:

Computer systems design and related services: $133,140
Management, scientific and technical consulting services: $130,390
Management of companies and enterprises: $113,690
Building equipment contractors: $91,370
Local government: $82,150

Often, general and operations managers will hold stock options in the organization and will receive performance bonuses. Membership to exclusive dining clubs, company owned transportation, expense allowances and company-paid insurance premiums and physical examinations are also common forms of compensation.

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