Coordinator vs. Manager: Similarities and Differences
Pursuing leadership roles can be a valuable way to make progress in your career. As you advance in your career, you might notice that different types of leaders have different duties and job titles. Two of the leadership roles you might encounter are those of a coordinator and manager. In this article, we discuss the difference between a coordinator and manager, with explanations of their responsibilities and qualifications, to help you establish and achieve your own leadership career goals.
What is a coordinator?
A coordinator, sometimes referred to as a project coordinator, performs duties similar to those of an assistant. This role often supports the work of a manager or project manager to collaboratively accomplish an organization's goals. For example, if a company is holding a fundraising event, a coordinator might execute the decisions their manager makes in the process of planning that event.
Coordinators' duties might vary depending on factors such as context and the size of the company. They might have broader responsibilities in smaller companies, for example, and a more specific scope in a larger company with many other coordinators.
What is a manager?
A manager is a professional who is responsible for leading teams of various sizes to accomplish organizational and company goals. Sometimes, a manager spends most of their time supervising members of their team. Other times, a manager accomplishes other tasks as well, depending on the company and circumstances. Managers might perform the duties of a coordinator in businesses with few employees as well.
Read more: What Is a Manager?
Coordinator vs. manager
Understanding how the roles of a coordinator and manager overlap and diverge can help you set meaningful career goals and choose which leadership position is right for you. Here are some of the similarities and differences between coordinators and managers:
Coordinators and managers accomplish some of the same tasks, especially in smaller companies that may have fewer leadership roles overall. Here are some of the responsibilities coordinators and managers share:
Communicating with team members at various levels to accomplish daily tasks
Delegating tasks appropriately
Completing required documentation accurately and efficiently
Monitoring progress toward shared and individual projects
Developing work schedules for projects and teams
Organizing processes and resources to support effective collaboration
Here are some typical coordinator responsibilities:
Communicating a manager's decisions and instructions to a team
Coordinating resource logistics
Answering questions about scheduling
Evaluating information to help support a manager's decision-making process
Here are some responsibilities that are usually exclusive to a manager:
Supervising the daily functions of a team
Performing staff training
Evaluating team members using performance reviews
Setting team goals and developing strategies
Providing mentorship to team members
Coordinators and managers often share similar qualifications, depending on the industry. Most of these roles require at least a high school diploma and experience in a specific industry. Some roles may require a bachelor's degree or higher as well. The level of degree needed to fill a coordinator or manager position may vary depending on factors such as the type of work expected of them and the number of direct reports they work with.
Because managers usually work at a higher level than coordinators in many companies and organizations, they may need more education or experience to qualify for a role. The specific requirements may be particular to an industry or more generalized, such as an MBA.
Coordinators and managers both usually work directly with their teams, meaning they usually exhibit most of the same skills. Some of the skills successful coordinators and managers share include:
Communication: Successful coordinators and managers are both adept communicators who can clearly convey and understand information in a work environment. This includes productive habits such as clear speech, active listening and effective writing.
Organization: Coordinators and managers both may handle complex sets of information and logistical information to help their teams reach their goals. Effective organizational skills can help both types of professionals stay apprised of changing conditions and work with their teams productively.
Reliability: Teams in all industries depend on both coordinators and managers to help them function efficiently and effectively. Both roles must exercise reliability to gain and maintain team members' trust and support productive work practices.
Growth mindset: As workplace leaders, coordinators and managers both learn new things frequently. A growth mindset, or the belief that anything can be learned with enough hard work and practice, helps these professionals stay nimble and maximize the benefit of their learning experiences.
Tips for choosing a coordinator or manager role
You may have the opportunity to choose between a coordinator and manager role in your career. You may also wonder which position to pursue as you progress in your career. To help support your career planning, here are some tips for choosing between a coordinator and manager role:
Set meaningful goals
Consider your own personal career objectives and take them into consideration when deciding which role to pursue. For instance, you might think about the level of responsibility you'd like to hold in the workplace or the types of tasks you'd like to complete. Try using the SMART goal framework to establish goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.
Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples
Find a mentor
Mentorship can be a valuable asset when you decide between pursing a coordinator or manager role. Try finding an experienced career leader to help you understand your options and provide guidance through the process. Consider connecting with professionals from your alma mater or joining a professional organization in your specific industry.
In the process of deciding between a career as a coordinator or manager, try to periodically pause to reflect. This means considering information you've learned and new ideas you've encountered, applying them to your own process and recalling your original goals. Reflecting can be a useful way to ensure your career activity matches your own objectives.
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