When to Manage and When to Coach – Recognizing the Difference

prop-motivatingAs a business owner, you wear many hats, two of the most important being “manager” and “coach”. What I’ve noticed most business owners have trouble with is differentiating between the two roles, and when exactly to wear each hat.

There is a very clear difference between managing and coaching, and it is important to recognize the distinction in order for your company and employees to achieve success under your leadership. So what is this apparent difference exactly?

In the simplest sense, managing is all about directing. As a manager, you are telling others what needs to be done, how to do it, and when it needs to be completed. You have a specific outcome in mind, and you are directing a group whose purpose is to achieve it.

Coaching, on the other hand, is all about facilitation. Your purpose is to create a relationship with your employees as a guide and mentor, working towards long-term improvement and a number of outcomes.

While a manager and a coach may have the same authority, the way they approach each situation varies greatly. While managing, you’re concerned with the strategy and planning, delegating the tasks to the appropriate people. While coaching, you are present, providing encouragement, support, and making suggestions/revisions along the way.

So at what point do you wear each hat? They’re both effective under different circumstances. When facing stressful deadlines or crisis situations, acting as manager is what’s needed. When you are building your team and focusing on your staff’s development, you are coaching them.

A combination of these two styles is ideal, and by evaluating the task at hand first and the individuals involved second, you can then decide on your management style. Managing an employee who is new or unfamiliar with a task makes sense, while coaching your experienced staff can assist in developing their growth.

In what situations do you find it difficult to distinguish between the leadership styles and which to use? Share your questions or concerns in the comments.

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