The Manager as Coach by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
The idea of a manager as an employee coach is one most of us have heard of. However, many people may not really know the difference between the two. Coaches and managers have many things in common, but there are some distinct differences, as well. Here are the primary differences between managers and coaches, as well as some guidance as to when each style is most beneficial.
- Managing is all about directing activity toward specific outcomes. Managers manage processes, and direct the people using those processes. The desired result is generally related to a specific goal, and managers may give specific instructions that should be followed. Managing works well when a person is new at performing a task or lacks confidence in completing the task. It is also a good way to get results during a crisis.
- Coaching, on the other hand, is related to developing a person, rather than a process. Coaching requires offering advice and suggestions, leaving final decisions to the employee. It is focused on helping the employee grow into his or her potential, rather than on reaching a specific goal.
Which Should I Be?
As a business leader, you will likely use both the manager and the coach role at different times and with different employees. As mentioned earlier, crisis situations require management, as does developing processes with new or less confident employees. Coaching, however, takes your employees to the next level.
The employees who will respond best to the coaching style are those who are already performing at a high level, and who are ready for the next challenge. It also works well with employees who are creative and who are confident enough to try new approaches and think on their feet.
Coaching and managing must each be part of your repertoire as a leader. Managing processes and less experienced staff will help develop employees to performing at a high level. Once they have reached this level and have confidence in their abilities, coaching them will develop them in ways that can propel their career forward. Think of coaching as a way to develop your employees to take your place. This idea should not create fear, since you should always be grooming someone to fill your shoes as you move up the ladder as well.
The mindset that leads a manager to be a coach is one that improves the skill and confidence of both the employee and the coach, as well. As you develop into a coach for those employees who are up for the challenge, you will see benefits for both of your careers.