General Manager Skills: Definition and Examples
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated August 15, 2022
Published June 1, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
General managers are crucial members of any workforce. These professionals oversee various types of departments and require skills that help them encourage productivity, employee satisfaction and quality work. Learning about the skills that general managers use to complete their daily tasks can help you understand and prepare you for this career path. In this article, we discuss several essential general management skills, along with advice for improving and highlighting these skills.
Why are general manager skills important?
General managers perform many essential tasks for organizations, such as managing budgets, training employees and developing business strategies. Having general manager skills ensures these professionals can fulfill their responsibilities and keep the business operating smoothly. For example, skills like communication, direction and organization represent vital aspects of these leadership roles. These skills enable general managers to lead their teams and collaborate with stakeholders effectively. By gaining experience within a company, employees can learn the soft and hard skills required to be a successful department manager.
Related: Learn About Being a General Manager
Examples of general manager skills
General managers hold significant responsibility in their workplaces, which requires a particular set of hard and soft skills to perform their role effectively. Some examples of essential general manager skills include:
Whether written or verbal, communication is essential for many general manager responsibilities. General managers use these skills to convey important information about the business to employees, stakeholders and customers. They need to communicate clearly and succinctly to ensure everyone understands, no matter their level of experience or expertise. The skill of active listening also enables productive conversations, ensuring that the general manager understands and responds to their audience's needs. Examples of beneficial communication skills for general managers include:
Respect for others
General managers supervise employees and their performance at work. To manage these employees, these professionals must rely on their abilities to lead, direct and communicate with their team members. In this role, they may need to set goals and expectations for the team. A good leader also serves as a positive example for their employees, displaying professionalism and reliability in the workplace. Having effective leadership skills enables general managers to inspire and motivate employees toward reaching their full potential.
Read more: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples
General managers organize many aspects of the departments or organizations they oversee. This skill helps these professionals use their time and resources effectively, ensuring their department has sufficient support for the present and preparation for the future. General managers may oversee financial aspects of the business, so these skills also help ensure they control costs to stay on budget and make a profit.
These skills also enable general managers to optimize their work environments. For example, they may use these skills to set project and team goals, prepare project plans and delegate assignments to self-directed teams. These skills can also help them set schedules for training sessions, conferences or project milestones and deadlines. Some organization skills that benefit general manager include:
Attention to detail
A general manager represents a leadership role, so these professionals are responsible for preparing their teams and businesses for the future with well-thought-out strategies. Depending on their business, they might aim to attract customers, boost competitive advantage and improve profits. Once the organization establishes its goals, the general manager can help develop strategies in their department to achieve them. These may include revitalizing technological capabilities, hiring new staff or increasing productivity levels. General managers should continue identifying and implementing strategies and plans to address needs as they arise and deliver positive business results. Examples of strategic planning skills include:
Strategic thinking and planning
General managers often work with computers and various software to perform their daily tasks. For example, they may communicate with colleagues through email or use programs to manage scheduling and bookkeeping tasks. These professionals may also require technical knowledge specific to the industry in which they work. General managers can typically learn technical skills through on-the-job experience, training programs or their formal education. Some examples of technical skills for general managers include:
Word processing software
Employee scheduling software
Email clients and apps
How to improve general manager skills
If you want to improve your general manager skill set, consider taking the following steps:
1. Identify areas for improvement
You can start improving your skills as a general manager by identifying the areas you want to improve. These areas may include soft skills, such as communication, or hard skills, such as technical knowledge related to the software you use at work. Once you determine the specific skills you want to strengthen, you can set goals to help you focus on the activities that aid your personal development.
2. Practice your skills regularly
When you know which skills you want to build, you can begin seeking opportunities to use them in your daily life. The more you practice these skills, the more comfortable you will feel performing them. Try to incorporate these habits into your professional and personal activities to ensure regular practice. You may also create opportunities for practicing these skills, such as volunteering to take on additional responsibilities. For example, if you want to boost your public speaking skills, you may offer to make an upcoming presentation or speak at an event.
3. Consider management training
Continuing your education can help boost your general management skills. There are many ways you can gain training in management tactics, such as seminars and online or in-person courses. You may also take advantage of any management training programs offered by your employer. These programs can provide specific tools and tactics you can use to enhance your skill set and performance as a general manager. Attending courses or seminars can also serve as an opportunity to network with like-minded professionals.
4. Seek feedback
When possible, share your skill development goals with a colleague, supervisor or mentor at work. These individuals can help hold you accountable for practicing and implementing your desired skills. When they understand your goals, you may also ask them for advice and feedback about your performance. Receiving positive feedback can help you feel more confident and motivated to continue striving toward your goals. Constructive feedback can also help you grow, as these individuals may identify areas for further improvement that you did not recognize yourself.
General manager skills in the workplace
As you develop your skills as a general manager, you can use the following tips to apply them in the workplace:
Communication plays a significant role in many general manager duties, and you can prioritize this skill while performing your daily tasks. For example, you may practice listening skills by including time for questions at the end of a presentation or meeting. You can also practice communicating by hosting training sessions on the topic. Coaching employees through various communication techniques allows you to practice them yourself. You may also consider hosting more team meetings or social events to encourage a collaborative and communicative work environment.
Improve your technical knowledge
As a general manager, you likely use many types of software and tools to conduct your day-to-day responsibilities. However, technology changes rapidly. Taking opportunities to learn about new software or advancements can help boost your work performance and keep your skills up-to-date. Also, if you have a regular process that you do manually, consider looking for tools that may help automate it. These resources can help you perform your responsibilities more efficiently, leaving you time to focus on more significant work priorities.
Engage your employees
Interpersonal skills, or the ability to collaborate effectively with others, are also essential for general managers. You can build stronger, more trusting relationships with your employees by hosting regular meetings with them. Use your active listening skills to learn more about them and their interest or needs. Engaging with these individuals outside of regularly mandated events, such as performance reviews, can show that you want to get to know them better. Consider keeping the conversation informal during these meetings to help them feel more comfortable and build rapport.
Related: How To Engage Employees
Acting with confidence can help you demonstrate your leadership qualities in the workplace. A simple way to communicate confidence is through non-verbal communication. Using good posture and maintaining eye contact when speaking to others can help you appear more assured. When you show confidence, it can help others feel more comfortable putting their trust in you. This trait can influence your team members to feel more confident, helping boost productivity and motivation within your department.
Try new tactics
As a general manager, you may encounter challenges in the workplace or need to make important decisions. You can display and build your problem-solving skills by trying new tactics to navigate these common challenges. Approach the problem from a different perspective or seek advice from others to develop these new tactics. By being open to alternative ways to solve familiar problems, you may discover a method that works more effectively than your previous ones.
How to highlight general manager skills
When applying for general manager positions, here are some ways you can emphasize your general management skills in your resume and during interviews:
General manager skills for your resume and cover letter
When submitting application materials for a general manager position, you can find several opportunities to highlight your relevant skills. When drafting a resume, you typically can incorporate these details throughout your summary, professional experience and skills sections. You may use the bulleted list in your skills section to showcase your strongest and most relevant skills. Your summary and professional experience sections enable you to briefly describe how you used your skills to achieve positive business results.
When determining what skills to include, review the job description and identify those sought by the employer. Use these keywords throughout your resume and cover letter to demonstrate why you make a good fit for the role. This tailored approach may also help prove your interest in the role, as it shows you understand and can meet the employer's expectations. Your cover letter also allows you to provide more details than a typical one-page resume allows.
General manager skills for your job interview
You can use your interview as an opportunity to explain experiences and skills that you left out of your application materials or had little room to describe. Depending on the question, you can describe how your skills helped you resolve or navigate challenges in the workplace. You may also emphasize the skills you have built throughout your career, based on specific experiences. Employers often appreciate candidates who show a commitment to personal and professional development, especially in leadership roles.
An interview also enables you to showcase specific skills, particularly communication. Demonstrating confidence, using active listening techniques and providing clear, thoughtful responses can help prove your ability to communicate effectively as a leader. Seeing these skills in practice can help employers understand what it would be like to work with you.
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