Managing vs. Coaching: What's the Difference?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 31, 2021 | Published February 8, 2021

Updated March 31, 2021

Published February 8, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It's common for companies and working people to use the terms managing and coaching to mean the same thing. However, they are two separate terms that may be helpful to understand so you can approach certain situations with more context or the appropriate expectations. Some people you work with may serve as both a manager and a coach, but in some cases, these positions are two different roles that serve two different purposes.

In this article, we explain what managing is, what coaching is and the differences between the two terms.

Related: Advice for First-Time Managers: 15 Tips and Goals

What is managing?

Managing is the act of overseeing people or an entire process or procedure in the workplace. Someone who is managing may:

  • Hire new employees and make other employment decisions.

  • Conduct orientation for new hires.

  • Write employees' schedules that fill the needs of the department or the business.

  • Monitor their team's performance and project progress.

  • Conduct annual reviews and develop performance plans.

  • Nominate employees for raises or performance bonuses.

  • Make department decisions that support the business's objectives.

  • Handle conflicts between employees.

  • Provide feedback.

  • Decide on an employee's goals and communicate them to their staff.

  • Delegate assignments to team members.

  • Produce reports for upper management.

  • Hold meetings for their team to communicate project updates or important company news.

  • Complete tasks that other employees cannot.

  • Write user manuals for company products and conduct quality assurance.

A manager keeps employees on track, making sure that they complete their work and adhere to any standards that the manager or business has set. A manager also manages projects, making sure they follow deadlines and budgets. Managers may need to make quick decisions about the direction of a project or how an employee should accomplish a task.

Related: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

What is coaching?

Coaching is a process that helps individuals improve and succeed. Coaching can take place from manager to employee and from employee to their leader and between coworkers in the same department or peers who may hold positions in different areas of the business. The goal of coaching is to help someone you work with grow their technical skill set, develop their soft skills and give them the guidance and confidence to succeed at work.

Someone who is coaching may:

  • Mentor an individual in how to complete a certain task or process.

  • Provide feedback on what someone can do to improve.

  • Keep others motivated in the workplace.

  • Give advice and guidance to other employees to help them develop their skills and excel in their careers.

  • Brainstorm ways to increase employee productivity.

  • Equip others with the resources they need to succeed in their role.

  • Provide a space where others can communicate openly about any concerns.

  • Identify any individual shortcomings and work with that person to establish ways to improve.

Coaching in the workplace is beneficial because it can increase productivity, contribute to employee happiness and job satisfaction, keep team members motivated and enhance creativity among coworkers. When coaching is a large part of the workplace, the work environment is likely one where people are more engaged and have a sense of trust in the company and their fellow employees.

Related: 130 Effective Coaching Questions

Managing vs. coaching

Although many people use these two terms interchangeably, managing and coaching are two different processes with varied responsibilities. Here are some differences to be aware of:

  • Usually, it's only the managers or supervisors within an organization who perform managing duties, although they may delegate some of their managing responsibilities to trusted members of their team. Comparatively, any individual within the organization can coach another person they work with, no matter the role each party has.

  • Managing consists of delegating to and measuring and directing employees with some authority, while coaching is two-way communication between individuals at an organization that enhances each person's work performance and abilities.

  • Managers may need to communicate specific tasks and responsibilities to employees, whereas coaches help others understand a specific procedure or company policy and give them the space to learn how to use their skills for themselves within certain parameters.

  • Managing is very task-oriented; coaching focuses more on a person's developmental needs in the workplace which can include interpersonal development or development in understanding how to do a part of their job better.

How to coach your peers

Because any employee can provide coaching to another person in the workplace, here is how you can be an effective coach to your peers:

1. Motivate others

One of the most important things that coaches do is motivate others in the workplace. You could motivate an entire team you work with by performing your own work to the best of your ability and making it easy for others to do their job in tandem. You can also motivate individuals you work with if you notice they could use some additional guidance. Find ways to recognize their work or provide actionable tips they can use to improve their performance.

2. Show your support

Explore ways you can show your support to others you work with. Your support may mean you ask a coworker about their weekend, provide feedback to your manager during your review process or show your willingness to offer your ideas and opinions to others who may benefit from a different perspective or some guidance.

3. Help your fellow employees when you can

A coach identifies ways they can help others succeed, whether that other person is a manager or peer. If you notice that an employee is struggling to meet their goal or feels overwhelmed by their responsibilities, ask how you can help. You can also let them know that you understand their feelings and want to do what you can to make them feel more comfortable with their workload. Consider if your coworker would benefit from more resources or needs some guidance on a soft skill, like time management, that you can provide some tips on.

4. Offer to guide a new hire

The process of feeling comfortable in a new job can be overwhelming for some, but with some initial guidance from a peer, it can be less so. If you feel fairly confident in your work and like you can be an asset to someone new in the position, ask your manager if you can serve as a new hire mentor so you can assist others with learning more about the company and guide them in how to best complete certain tasks.

Explore more articles