Many young and ambitious employees desperately want to become general managers within a few years after graduating with a degree in their chosen field. However, mother nature endows each one of us with various strengths and weaknesses.
What does it take to become the general manager of a company? Is it worth trying to achieve that goal? What sacrifices must be made en route? Are you really sure that you want to become a general manager? There are a number of the problems you can anticipate to reap rewards. What does it take to achieve your objective, and what sacrifices do you have to make, not only initially, but also on an ongoing basis?
Please, note that these suggestions are appropriate for the North American economies and practices. In other countries rules may change, sometimes drastically. First and foremost you have to undertsand the rules of business and must apply them to your situation.
A few trends become obvious when analyzing the North American management structure.
Most of the managers are white male, Protestant, and politically conservative. These findings cover up to the year 2010 and are likely to change as people from minorities are promoted.
General management requires different types of people with differing attitudes and thinking.
There are significant differences in the policies of various companies, i.e. in a small company the manager must be freewheeling to make decisions quickly, and implement them instantly in an attempt to remain competitive. Corporations proceed at a slower pace first soliciting opinions from employees or consultants, then consider logistics, production, marketing strategies, packaging, and consumer acceptance.
Once a decision is made to produce a good, or service, or policy change, it must be communicated clearly and concisely to lower echelons, and followed up to ensure that the decision is accepted, and implemented.
In a corporation, a choleric person may not survive for long as a manager. Such operations need relatively even-tempered and relaxed individuals who understand that in big companies decisions are made slowly and implemented with considerable effort.
Small things matter a great deal, particularly in the hospitality industry and all managers must be “detail-minded”.
The so-called “chemistry” of a managerial candidate must agree with that of his/her superior who makes promotion decisions. At times, nepotism plays a role in getting a promotion, but business executives agree that an inept manager is a luxury no company can afford.
In small companies a strong mentor makes it his/her business to coach his favourite protégé. This can be helpful. While mentorship is considered a form of nepotism, it works in certain circumstances.
A very important aspect of management today is that a manager set in his/her ways becomes “obsolete” quickly, if he/she fails to change according to social, political and economic changes.
The restaurant and hotel industry, in the past, tended to promote employees from the ranks. Such employees weremostly of Central- or North European origin, and had served an apprenticeship, were hard working, possessed good common sense, were intelligent, astute, business oriented, and could adapt to North American management techniques and requirements. Today, the picture looks dramatically different. First, there are fewer such immigrants. Many general managers know that although most Europeans tend to be good at skills, they are less well equipped in marketing, sales, administration and cross-cultural policies.
There are several reasons for this; the most important of which is that practically all European restaurants and hotels are small, or mid-sized, family owned and operated.
(with the notable exception of some beer tents in Munich). Many are handed down from generation to generation, with no mortgage to carry. Key managerial positions are held by family members. In such operations, waste and pilferage are minimal due to tighter supervision. A small number of patrons revenerates sufficient revenues to maintain profits.
European patrons traditionally are loyal and encourage their off springs to patronize their favourite establishments. In such cases, all a restaurateur will have to do is to maintain long established standards, and change the menu slightly to remain profitable.
European restaurant patrons are known to be quite conservative and tend to change their eating habits very slowly. North American executives regard profit crucial to remain viable. Many prefer short-
term gain over long term planning. When asked, 33 per cent of executives believed that the fastest promotion track to senior management was in accounting, followed by marketing at 31 per cent, and only seven per cent indicated that technical/professional skills would be helpful in achieving their goals. Only 18 per cent felt that a general management training would help them reach the top. Generally, small companies promote faster, but managerial positions can be lost as fast as they are gained, since one wrong decision may result in dismissal. Large corporations are more tolerant and can absorb losses of flawed decisions, at least once.
Financial acumen is a good track to the top in service industries.
Consultants believe that at the highest management levels human resources skills are better appreciated and more helpful than technical expertise.
Experts feel a specialised career path, obtaining an undergraduate degree, and following it up with a master’s in business administration, is the best route. This seems to lead more readily to a general management position than a specialized field of study.
Executives claim to promote “the best performers”, but the question remains as to what their perception of “best performance” means. In some cases, “best performance” may mean the bottom line of financial statements, in others it may mean a contented and happy staff. In yet other cases, it may mean the ability
to negotiate with the union, and last but not least, the service to guests may be the most important criteria in judging “performance”.
Managerial performance can be measured only against well-established goals and objectives. If the objective of the operation is to be the most luxurious and competent hotel in the region and the manager accomplishes the task, then he/she is successful, regardless of the financial performance. If on the other hand the objective states that the operation must be the most luxurious and reasonably profitable, then the manager, who achieves the objective, is reasonably successful.
Managers and often head office employees tend to promote staff for all the wrong reasons, e.g., if the Maitre d’Hotel does an excellent job in running the restaurant, management assumes that he will make an excellent food and beverage manager. It is important to note that occasionally a good Maitre d’Hotel may make an excellent food and beverage manager.
The Peter principle theory, which states that every employee is eventually promoted to his/her level of incompetence is as true today as it was when it was coined. Integrity, a willingness to make a commitment in terms of both time and the quality of work, and a quick mind coupled with leadership qualities, are some prerequisites for advancement.
It is relatively easy to make financial statements look good over a short term, but more Importantly, financial statements should show desirable results during recessions. Some large hotel and restaurant chains still employ managers for only a few years in one operation and transfer them to another less profitable operation. Such managers are known as “turn around specialists”. In many cases, they, by neglecting repairs and maintenance, never replacing old and worn equipment, lowering prices, understaffing, and generally cutting everything to the bone, improve profits. However, the successor finds the property in disrepair. Thus, for an equally long or short time, financial statements of this property show abnormally low profits.
What must be stressed to each manager is a constant defined,and acceptable profit level. It is imperative to plan annual rehabilitation projects in an attempt to maintain established standards. The ability of solving problems is integral to success. Effective managers must be good listeners, perceptive, analytical, and able solve complex problems most of the time.
Sometimes managers are hired only to achieve a specific goal. They are highly paid, and once the objective has been achieved, they move on to another so called “turn around” assignment.
Large companies instituted performance evaluation (appraisal) systems in which supervisors rate both the performance and potential of their subordinates. Supervisors seek their employees’ evaluation of themselves as well. Such two-way performance interviews produce more desirable results. While these performance evaluation interviews are productive, many companies use them reluctantly to promote potentailly good employees. Promoting an employee from within requires a lot of thought and good planning. Such promotions must be as objective as possible and all deserving employees ought to be considered. Ocassionally, a potential candidate is overlooked because of his/her quiet nature. Effective and foresighted managers make management effortless, others make it look more difficult than it is in reality. An effective manager runs his/her department so that in his absence everything functions as smoothly as if he were there. In many instances, management deliberately overlooks a potentially deserving manager for fear of finding on equally good replacement him/her. For this reason alone, every
manager should strive to train his successor. Indeed, general managers should constantly encourage their managers to train their deputies. High energy, dedication, and commitment are important , but other contributing factors such as expertise, leadership abilities, and problem solving qualities also playn a role.
Often overlooked an important factor is that to ask whether the candidate wishes to accept the promotion. Quite clearly, ambition counts, but ambitious employees have been known to be almost ruthless in achieving their objectives. While ambition is to be valued, employees who blatantly speak ill of their fellow Workers, must at the very least, be cautioned, or passed over.
Ruthlessness poisons a collegial environment.
Until recently, many employees gladly relocated wherever and whenever company executives directed them. Such requests were either promotions, or involved higher salaries coupled with more responsibilities. Today, many employees tend to be more cautious. The majority will lielt consult their spouses; others consider the education of their children, and, on occasion, politely decline the opportunity.
The corporate culture of an organization represents an important aspect in the quest for promotions. Ambitious employees blend and actively cultivate many philosophy or culture.
Beween two candidates, the one who possesses the most appropriate management style gets promoted.
Mavericks stand less chances, except extremely in unusual circumstances. General managers fail to appreciate critical department managers. These mangers, and often replace them at the first opportunity – a mistake!
Management experts agree that each company has some degree of power structure and non-conformists lose out sooner or later during promotions. A second tier manager knows how to present important information convincingly, and bring pressing matters quickly to the attention of executives; without distorting facts.
True achievers accomplish tasks without degrading their fellow employees and well managed companies encourage some of their senior managers to become mentors to young and promising employees.
“Modern”young and talented employees fail to realise the importance of approriate dress. Hotels, restaurants, and generally any respectable company, want to reflect a positive image. A sloppily dressed, ill-mannered employee, however well trained and brilliant, is unlikely to be promoted.
Time and again, being at the right time and at the right place helps promotion, even though the individual may lack required skills. Ambitious managers must ensure that they possess all the right “tools” to advance, and be confident.
Perceptive general managers quickly recognize confident, talented, capable, willing and ambitious young managers or even novices. On occasion, a specialized post secondary school graduate from a well-known and respected university may be hired as a manager upon careful evaluation.
Generally, an employee can grow with the company if it has the wherewithall to grow.
Growing with a company requires maturity, good judgement, hard work, dependability, and above all, a considerate attitude.
Senior and successful managers list the following points in considering candidates for promotions:
• Hard work
• Desire for ongoing education
• Good interpersonal skills
• Concern for results
• Ability to solve problems and make decisions based on facts
• A profound education
• Leadership abilities
• Professional and technical competence
• Desire for responsibility
If you possess all the prererquisits and are absolutely sure that you can make use of all your talents when the time comes, go ahead and pursue your objective.
If you lack some of the required skills, acquire them as soon as possible.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.