Contrary to what some may believe, managers and coaches are not one and the same. In fact, there are fundamental differences between the two roles that many do not consider.

Broadly speaking, managing puts more focus on directing a team. Meanwhile, coaching has more to do with developing a team.That does not necessarily mean that one role is more important than the other, in fact, learning how to balance the two can make you a much more effective leader. When you lead your team well, you can ultimately increase their overall satisfaction and commitment to their jobs.

If you don’t know where to start, there are many management or coaching programs that can help you hone these skills. We’ve also written this quick guide to help you, and to learn how to differentiate between managing and coaching.

The Main Difference Between Managing and Coaching

In essence, the main difference has to do with each role’s end goal. Managers are more focused on the end result of a task. On the other hand, coaches are more concerned with the development of their team members. They assign new goals that are meant to help employees improve their skills by self-directing and self-identifying their weaknesses.

In other words, managing has more to do with directing people. That is, you instruct them with what needs to be done, how it should be done, and when it has to be completed. It’s more about addressing immediate needs and achieving a specific outcome.

In comparison, coaching is more focused on teaching people. You guide them so that they can become more aware of their weaknesses, the effect this has on their work, and what to do to solve it. Coaching is more concerned with long-term improvement and is open to many possible outcomes.

However, this isn’t to say that one skill is more important than the other. You have to organise the team’s tasks in a way that makes sense while also investing in your team members’ professional growth. Rather, the key to successful leadership lies in knowing when to manage and when to coach.

When to Focus on Managing

A managing approach is best when a problem needs to be resolved quickly. This is usually most helpful during crisis situations. When team members are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious and do not know to know what to do next, they need someone who can calmly steer them in the right direction.

Managing is also necessary when onboarding and training new team members. You need to teach them what tasks they have to do and how to do them well. This skill comes into play when it’s time to assign and delegate tasks among the team. This is usually done by determining which team member would be best suited for executing certain tasks most efficiently.

When to Focus on Coaching

Coaching is best suited for developmental purposes. For instance, perhaps you’ve identified certain team members who need guidance with their career paths. Or you may have noticed a certain employee has been excelling and want to help them reach the next level of effectiveness.

Generally speaking, you should coach when employees need guidance and support rather than focus on specific instructions. Your goal is to help these highly competent and committed members to become more confident in their skills and to become less reliant on direct instructions. As you coach them, they should learn to execute certain tasks without having to wait for your permission. And sometimes, you may just end up coaching someone to become an effective leader who can take on responsibility and ultimately lead their own team.

Indeed, knowing when to manage and when to coach is crucial to becoming a successful manager. It’s a given that each project should be delivered on time and within budget, but it’s equally as important to ensure that your employees are growing in their respective roles. Once you master how to balance both skills, you’ll be sure to see a rise in employee productivity and happiness down the line.