Coaching vs. Managing

Employee retention is among the biggest concerns for today’s business leaders. As more and more people leave the workforce for various reasons, business leaders are left wondering what they can do to retain future employees. Recent studies have shown that a growing number of workers leave their jobs because their managers did not engage them and help them develop their careers. Therefore, managers have tried to develop a new strategy for retaining talent: coaching. The terms coaching and managing are often used interchangeably, but they do not necessarily mean the same thing. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between these two approaches. 

What is Managing?

Managing involves giving direct instructions and supervising the work of your employees or direct reports. The goal of a manager is to make sure employees meet their objectives within a reasonable amount of time. They are focused on the completion of tasks and how well they achieve results. Managers are generally task-oriented and results-driven, meaning they use quantifiable measurements to monitor performance. 

Managers usually possess excellent problem solving skills and the ability to make decisions and take initiative when problems arise. On a daily basis, managers may perform the following duties:

  • Leading meetings and facilitating conversations
  • delegating tasks and project assignments
  • Providing feedback to employees
  • Monitoring progress through performance metrics
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Taking charge in making decisions

What is Coaching?

On the flip side of leadership approaches is coaching. Where managing is about providing directives and assigning tasks, coaching involves working together as partners. Coaches guide their team through projects and processes in order to help them become leaders themselves. In addition to providing guidance, coaches influence and motivate employees through engagement. Effective coaching increases employee commitment and supports further growth and development. 

Coaching requires fostering trustful relationships with employees and allowing them to make their own choices about workflow processes. Coaches communicate openly with employees, inspiring them to engage in their work on a deeper level. On a daily basis, coaches may perform the following duties: 

  • Communicating with colleagues
  • Inspiring and motivating colleagues
  • Receiving and providing feedback to promote growth
  • Celebrating successes
  • Experimenting with creative solutions
  • collaborating with other team members


Managing and coaching are two distinct leadership styles. Management is more focused on short-term results and accomplishing daily tasks while coaching inspires employees to achieve long-term goals over a period of time. Managing involves directing and controlling the work environment in order to meet deadlines while coaching motivates employees to be autonomous in their work. In general, managers are typically thought of as task-oriented while coaches seek to inspire and motivate. Management is effective for decision making while coaching works better for long-term development. Both approaches are useful in their own right and the best leaders are those who know how to blend these types of leadership together to motivate their employees.