Coaching vs. Managing: Definitions, Differences, and Tips for Managers

The importance of managing a team or department efficiently is well-established. Top leaders recognize that they need effective management to achieve organizational goals. However, one significant aspect of effective management that is often overlooked is coaching. 

Coaching vs. Managing: A coach focuses on skill development, engagement, motivation, and a healthy work environment for employees. While managers are responsible for organizing the work, tasks, and processes of their team members.

Managers handle a lot of critical functions and convey confidential information to team members and employees. Hence, team members need to rely on managers for their direction. However, managers also need to ensure other important factors for a company, like employee engagement, motivation, and commitment to goals. They give direction on day-to-day activities and develop problem-solving skills by enabling employees to arrive at their own solutions. 

A successful leader needs to assess a situation and decide whether they need to manage or coach the employees. Hence, Managing and Coaching are not interchangeable. Let us discuss what is Coaching in management and how it differs from Managing.


Coaching is the act of guiding, engaging, assessing, influencing, and motivating your employees to contribute to organizational goals. It is a two-way process that benefits the management and the other team members. 

It serves as a useful means to reduce employee turnover by providing employees with recognition for their work. Coaching boosts employee engagement and increases their level of commitment to organizational goals. The workforce also benefits from the growth and learning opportunities presented to them in such a working environment. 

As per Harvard Business Review, direct experience accounts for 70% of employee development in comparison to formal training. Coaching differs from the traditional directive and authoritative approach. The employees are encouraged to come up with innovative solutions. The managers provide the required guidance and support to steer them towards the desired outcome. Although coaching differs from managing in many ways, it can become instrumental to sound management practices. 


Management is the art of getting things done with the help of others. Traditionally, managers are solely focused on achieving a set of outcomes for the organization and give clear and specific instructions to the employees to achieve such goals. 

Management involves delegating a task, assigning responsibility, giving direction, and supervising employees. The accurate measure of successful management is the results obtained. However, the absence of coaching can cause employees who rely on the managers to solve every problem they encounter. 

Difference Between Coach and Managers

Coaching and managing are two complementary skills. Once a manager understands the difference between coaching vs. managing, they can hone the skills of managing and coaching as and when needed. 

Some key differences between coaches and managers are as mentioned below. 

Goal-oriented vs. growth-oriented

Managing is a goal-oriented process that ensures that the required outcomes are achieved within the preset deadlines. On the other hand, coaching involves making employees feel valued by enabling them to find solutions through critical thinking. The first step to coaching is to ask a series of questions to help your employees set goals. Hence, facilitating the growth and development of employees.

Authority vs. autonomy

Managers have power over their employees, and they direct such authority to control the work of team members. On the contrary, coaching is based on the premise of having a strong relationship that increases your collective power to achieve long-term growth and success.

While managing is about authority to get things done, coaching provides autonomy to the members of a team. 

One-to-many vs. one-to-one relationship

Managing involves leaders instructing an entire team. Coaching, on the other hand, encourages one-to-one relationship building and communication.

Instructions vs. conversation

Managing focuses on giving instructions, supervising performance, and issuing feedback as and when necessary. Hence, managing involves one-way communication. 

On the other hand, coaching is a conversation between the managers and the employees. The employees can communicate their objectives, goals, and problems to the employer, who, in turn, can provide their support and guidance. 

Crisis management vs. long-term goals

Managing can be suitable for faster decision-making in a crisis. Clear instructions from managers can enable quick execution and remove any room for error. The manager’s experience serves as a valuable resource in crisis management and achieving desired objectives.

Coaching is primarily focused on the long-term goal of both employees and the entity through collaboration and skill development. The employees can communicate their personal growth objectives when managers ask relevant questions and act as a facilitator. 

Certainty vs. creativity

 Managers use time-tested plans and proven methods to combat a situation and achieve their targets, whereas coaching provides room for creativity and innovation. The employees can come up with their own methodologies to overcome a challenge.  

These are some differences between coaches and managers. A successful leader needs to use a mix of these approaches as the situation demands. 

 However, in some circumstances, it can become difficult to decide between the two alternatives. In such a situation, the 3 Ds of management serves as a useful framework to put an end to the dilemma of coaching vs. managing. 

Also read: Employee Wellbeing And Absenteeism At Work

Three Ds of successful management


Directing is a management activity that involves giving clear instructions to the employees about their work, expected results, methodologies to be used, and the deadline for the project. The roles are defined in writing to act as future references, both during and after the task. Templates and examples can also be used to clear out any doubts. 

Directing can be helpful when employees have limited experience and competence to complete a task. The situation that requires leaders to direct are: 

  • When an employee is new to the organization.
  • When they need to handle a new client or customer.
  • When an employee is assigned a new job role and responsibility.
  • When they have a different way of working.
  • When you need to execute a new strategy or plan of action. 


The delegation represents a mix of managing and coaching. It can work in situations where employees are experienced and have a proven record of competence. 

The leaders need to clearly define the expected result and goals. However, the employees should be allowed to choose their own methodologies to arrive at the desired outcome. The role of the manager, in such a case, involves monitoring progress and providing feedback as and when necessary. 

Leaders can choose delegation: 

  • When the employee is skilled and confident of their abilities.
  • When they have the experience and competence to perform the required job role.
  • When employees are dealing with a sensitive client.
  • When they have a similar approach to working.


Developing is a coaching activity, where you define the objective and let employees take care of the rest. The leaders do not monitor or control the activity. On successful completion, the employees are appreciated to make them feel valued for their contribution.

The leaders then identify new challenges for the continual growth of the employees. Developing is more suitable for employees who are highly experienced, competent, and committed to their job role. You can choose to develop:

  • When dealing with a highly skilled and competent workforce.
  • When employees have performed similar roles and dealt with similar clients.
  • When employees are focused on developing new skills and competencies.
Also read: 7 Ways To Curb Workplace Negativity

Tips for Managers to Improve Their Coaching Skills

As per Gallup, a highly motivated workforce that is aware of their strength can lead to 10% to 19% increased sales and 14% to 29% increased profits. Hence, coaching is quintessential to business success. Some tips that can help managers to improve their coaching vs. managing skills are as mentioned below.

An active listener

As a manager, you should motivate the employees and provide them space to put forward their views. A good manager listens carefully to their employees and avoids any chances of miscommunication. 

However, if you are too focused on your inner dialogue, you cannot understand their perspective on the situation, and the conversation becomes futile. Hence, a manager needs to inculcate active listening skills.

A constant source of motivation

A successful manager keeps the employees motivated and provides them with a sense of purpose in the organization. When employees feel they are heard and valued, they are more likely to commit to organizational goals and objectives.  

To develop self-confidence, the manager should help employees in improving their skills and provide constructive criticism when required. 

Growth mindset

A good manager should aim to create an organizational culture where each employee is provided with the space to learn and grow. From time to time, the managers need to shift the focus from end results to the process of achieving those outcomes.

 Ask a question and understand any challenges that the team members are encountering. Encourage your employees to come up with their own solutions. This will help them develop their skills and also contribute to organizational growth. 

Coaching vs. Managing: Conclusion

Coaching and managing are two management activities that complement each other. For a successful organization that focuses on growth and development, finding a balance between coaching vs. managing becomes critical.  

Managing employees requires strategic thinking, clarity of vision, and good communication. The managers should be assertive and authoritative. However, to coach your workforce, you need to have two-way communication where employees are encouraged to pursue their own growth objectives. The managers act as a support mechanism and a guiding force to steer them to success. 

When a manager works alongside the employees and coaches them, the organization is bound to reach unprecedented growth and success. 

Employee Engagement

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The Top 8 Leadership Skills You Need In 2024

Finding a strong and effective leader is crucial for the success of any organization. Leaders act as a guide for the employees and the organization and help in improving their performance. A strong leader empowers, motivates, and inspires the team that results in the formation of a high-performance team. So, the presence of an effective leader can change the face of the organization. 

But the true strength of leadership is tested during tough times. In this current scenario, where business and the way of working are evolving at a rapid pace, how leaders handle the challenges will determine the success of the organization.

Also Read: Here’s Why Your Employee Rewards and Recognition Fails

Here, in this article we will share top eight skills of leaders which distinguish them from others.

Start By Setting Goals

Goal Setting is important for every employee, and it is one of the first steps toward effective leadership. Once a leader is clear about the goals and vision, they can translate the same to the team effectively. It will help employees to align their personal and professional goals to the organizational goals. Moreover, having specific and SMART goals helps employees to stay focused and gives them a sense of purpose and direction.

Leadership fails to create an impact and is not effective without a definite goal or a vision.

Become Self Aware

Self-awareness is a fantastic skill for anyone to have. But more so than others, it is good for leaders to be self-aware and critical. Just as they need to be aware of their strengths, they also need to be aware of their failings (no one is immune to weakness). They need to recognize when they can contribute effectively, and when they need someone else to step in and take over. Self-awareness is not so much about acknowledging you do not know how to do something as much as it is about recognizing your limitations and making decisions that have the most acceptable outcome.

Also Read: Be A Better Manager And Avoid These 5 Mistakes

Show Empathy

Empathy is one of those soft skills that are absolutely necessary for everyday life and most definitely in a corporate setting. It is good for leaders to have a head for business, but empathy is also an equally important skill. It is as simple as recognizing the efforts your employees are making. Understanding that sometimes, despite your best efforts, you cannot achieve your end result. Empathy is realizing that different people work differently and as a leader, your job is to integrate that into a team, rather than digging your heels in.

Accountable and Responsible

Accountability and responsibility are two skills that go hand in hand. If you handle an organization, or a team, remember, you are accountable for it as well. The essence of leadership is accepting the bouquets along with the brickbats. This means, when the going is good, stepping back and letting your team take the spotlight. And when the going is back, stepping forward and accepting accountability for what happened. Sure, maybe you did not directly affect whatever happened. However, as a leader, you need to take charge, especially when the chips are down.

Also Read: What Is A Performance Management System?

Project Honesty

Being honest doesn’t mean you have to be honest to a fault. There’s no need to spill your guts or that of the organization to everyone. However, the type of honesty that matters most in an organization is the honest acknowledgment of troubles, obstacles, mistakes, successes, etc.

When leaders are honest and attempt to be as transparent as they can, they engender loyalty among employees. On the other hand, if leaders are secretive, or very inscrutable and difficult to read, employees feel alienated and might even assume the leader is doing something shady, even if they really are not.

Be A Great Listener

It is one of the most undervalued and ignored aspects of leadership qualities. Being a good listener helps leaders to pay greater attention to their employees, and it shows that they care for them. When leaders are an active part of a conversation, they understand not only the verbal cues but also the non-verbal ones.

When leaders pay undivided attention to their employees and listen to their opinions and concerns, employees feel valued and are more engaged at work.

Also Read: Do You Listen To Your Employees?

Be Flexible With Your Employees

Does flexibility mean that leaders have to be absolutely easy going and accepting of everything? No, that is not it. Leaders need to be disciplined and stern however, flexibility is also an important skill to possess. Leaders need to be flexible in the sense that they need to realize that at times, things will not go as per plan. Or maybe, employees have a certain amount of bandwidth and beyond that, they cannot be pushed. Or for example, it is not possible to over-perform and over-deliver frequently without causing discord and tension. Flexible leaders look for alternate options, are considerate of employees and do not expect gold to be made out of thin air.

Be Ready To Embrace Change

Most successful leaders value the importance of change and know that it is inevitable. Leaders need to be open-minded and accept change willingly. It reflects the preparedness of the leader when they face uncertainty and challenges. Moreover, when leaders are open to change, it promotes a sense of open culture in the organization. It encourages innovation and new ideas among the employees. When employees are motivated to give their input and ideas, it increases employee engagement and boosts their morale.

When a leader is open to change and adopts new or alternative ways of thinking, it brings positive growth to the employees and the organization.

Did you know Engagedly’s real time performance management software can help you nurture future leaders?

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4 Leadership Skills to Improve in a Hybrid Work Environment

A special edition on Leadership Skills written by Engagedly’s President and Co-Founder Srikant Chellappa.

COVID-19 changed many employees’ interests and overall perspectives on work. Some of them will be eager to return to the office, while others will prefer to work from home to avoid interruptions and time wasting commutes. Transforming your workplace to accommodate their needs is great, but you also need to enhance your leadership skills because they will also help your team stay engaged. Here are a few skills to consider:


Working from home may cause people to feel excluded from business decisions. Frequently communicating with your team by making weekly or daily updates to your company’s operations and working policies can ensure they are still informed about what’s going on even if they are not in the office. As more alignment and collaboration between people occur, transparent communication will be especially important to make sure both remote and in-person teams are aware about the tasks that need to be completed.


In addition to communicating more often, you also need to invest in the wellbeing of your employees. Returning to the office can be distracting if people got used to working alone. Offering wellness programming like yoga, meditation, or coaching can help them take their minds off those distractions as they readjust to working around other people.

Also Read: Employee Wellbeing Trends For 2021

Appreciation and Recognition

Being more appreciative and acknowledging your employees for their work. Doing it publicly using a platform like Engagedly (I am biased here), can be highly motivating. Employers who do not express value for their employees will experience a high turnover rate. Now that businesses are starting to hire again and willing to allow remote work, it will be easier for employees to quit their jobs if their managers fail to recognize them for their accomplishments.

Also Read: Recognition At Work: The Virtual Edition


It will take a  long time before things start to feel normal again; people will still feel uncomfortable in crowded spaces and thus opt for a hybrid work environment, while many may continue to work remote. Being flexible not only means allowing people who feel most comfortable working from home to do so, but it also means giving them the resources to complete tasks if they need it. For instance, if they need a noise cancelling headset at home or need more time to work on an assignment because they were occupied with taking care of their children, you must be willing to provide them with those requests so they have the resources to be successful at their work.

If there is one important lesson that emerged from this pandemic, its how to be more human-centered. Many articles about returning to the office post COVID-19 focus on transforming the physical structure of the workplace but very few discuss why leaders also need to transform their leadership styles to help employees reintegrate into this new setting.

Want to know how Engagedly can improve collaboration of your remote team? Then request for a live demo.

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The Positive Effects of Compassionate Leadership

We don’t need a study to tell us how toxic leaders can wreck an organization. Some of us know all too well how much damage toxic leaders can do. They can take a perfectly good organization and wreck it from the inside out.

Continue reading “The Positive Effects of Compassionate Leadership”

6 Leadership Mistakes That Will Cost You Dearly

Heavy is the head that wears a crown. As a leader, there are times when your patience will be sorely tested and you will be tempted to give up. But if you are a person who delights in leading people and has wanted to do so from the longest time, when the opportunity to be a leader presents itself to you, you will naturally jump at that opportunity.

Continue reading “6 Leadership Mistakes That Will Cost You Dearly”