They might be strong in product knowledge, customer service and identifying opportunities within their market. But, to keep up with the demands of a larger business, the SME business owner needs to also think about staff management, financial management, marketing and sales management, and systems development - areas which may sit outside their wheelhouse.
If your business is currently going through this and you recognise that you're being stretched beyond capacity, the wisest course of action is to consider appointing a General Manager.
It's such a critical position that the recruitment of the first GM will probably be the most challenging in the history of the business.
Even with capable, high-quality candidates, it is unreasonable to expect that:
- a GM will be able to slot straight into the role without any time investment from the SME owner,
- the GM will manage the whole business on their own,
- the business will grow quickly and easily cover the cost of the GM, or
- the appointment of a GM will immediately allow the SME business owner to step away from the business without any loss to revenue or profits.
To avoid these pitfalls when the time comes, here are some of the most effective ways you can ensure you recruit a valuable GM:
- Recruit from within - Consider if an existing manager could make the transition into the GM role. Consider potential and whether some education and mentoring could bridge a gap in knowledge.
- Create a Job Description Form (JDF) - Document the role, responsibilities and performance measures.
- Update the Organisation Chart - show the new GM position reporting to the MD and carefully consider who will report to the GM (6 maximum).
- Consider recruiting the new GM into a manager role first (in the field of their greatest strength) with a plan to promote them to GM after 1-2 years. This will provide a ‘trial period’ before fully handing over the ‘keys’ to the business.
- Invest time in coaching the GM to close any ‘gaps’ in knowledge, experience or skills, and seek comprehensive feedback on how the GM is handling the role.
- Be rigorously fair and honest with the GM – they should be of the caliber to receive robust feedback and it will help with the development of the role and the business.
If this is where you are at, and you'd like guidance from someone who has led many businesses through this same transition, I'd love to offer my assistance. Send me an email with your questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.