and a REFOCUS for acumen.sg
The hardest move I ever had to make was moving from a functional head- in my case from Business Development Project management, and before that Marketing and then Sales Director- to General Manager. And to be honest it was the transition that I was least prepared for.
Looking back on my previous companies, I believe that this move is the most traumatic to job candidates primarily because many of the skills that led them to be great functional heads are pretty much redundant as a new General Manager.
So over 2015 I’d like to refocus acumen.sg to look at how you can make the move or how you can assist others to make the move from Functional Head to General Manager.
Looking on the internet at how authors and commentators characterize of this move… I believe most of the authors fundamentally under estimate the time, energy, faith, hope and resilience needed to make this move. Its often treated as another step up the ladder, or having traversed one set of stairs, its just another step on the stairway to…. something.
Not only is this stairs analogy completely wrong, but the development offered to GM candidates is woeful.
Let’s talk about analogies… If taking your first job, becoming a wager earner is stepping onto the first rung. and becoming a manager is another stairway, and becoming a functional head is another stairway- becoming a GM is completely different track.
The nearest I can think is the difference between being a babysitter, and having your own baby.
Baby sitting requires skills and responsibility, but the moment the parents returns and hands over your cash, that’s it; your responsibilities end. You can take excellent care of the baby, train up, become a great babysitter, but in the end, its not your baby, you hand it back and can sleep easy at night.
Being a GM is like having that baby. YOU are responsible. Yes you get to hire baby sitters, but in the end when the baby cries at night, or needs to go to the hospital… its just you. All the baby sitters look at you and ask… OK what now.
You may scoff at this analogy and say, well in a business you have shareholders and a Board you are not completely autonomous. I’d agree, and say having a baby comes with a lot of rules and regulation from external bodies, just like being a General manager. Except you can’t resign as a parent- you can as a GM.
So with this tortuous analogy, I’ ll start to reframe the questions I ask and post on to consider the transition into General Management. This will enable me to provide my views on the transition and what it takes to create a great GM out of a great functional head.