In business, managers have the responsibility of meeting both the needs of the company and those of the employees. This creates the necessity for two hats to be worn: That of a coach and that of a manager.

Although it can be difficult to distinguish between a coach and a manager, especially when they are both described as “managing,” each role has a unique purpose and focus. The coach primarily develops people, whereas the manager is more dedicated to the company itself. To help you understand these roles, let’s examine the parallels between how they function in a company versus on a sports team.

The coach

On a baseball team, there are several coaches. Each is responsible for developing the players’ skills. A coach spends his time in practice working with the players on fundamentals and technique. They are also responsible for motivating the players to play as a team, which can be a challenge when working with a diverse group of personalities and talent. Each coach plays an active role in the game by giving players direction and feedback between the plays.

Wearing the hat of “coach” in a business requires many of the same methods used by those coaching athletes. Business coaches have daily communication with each of their team members using fundamental business techniques and best practices to give support and guidance. They look at each person as an individual in order to help develop their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Business coaches watch and listen to employees while they are active on the job so they can offer suggestions and praise. Just like a baseball coach never jumps into the game and bats for a player, so the business coach should never jump in and do the employee’s job.

The manager

In baseball, the manager is responsible for the team’s strategy. The manager directs the team by telling the players where to play, when to take a pitch, and when to pitch around a batter. Their decisions are based on strategically studying the other team’s stats. The baseball manager’s priority is not to develop the players, but to win games with the players he has been given. Winning means happy fans, and happy fans continue to buy tickets and make the club money.

Wearing the hat of “manager” in a business means you direct people on specific tasks that need to be accomplished in a set time frame. The manager looks at the company as a whole and analyzes reports to make key decisions about the direction of the company. The manager will move people around to better serve the company’s needs based on their skill sets. The business manager’s priority is to offer a quality product to the customer that creates high demand with the least amount of cost to the company.

Wearing two hats

Unlike the baseball team that has separate roles for coaches and managers, the business world requires a manager to wear both hats, whether working for a large corporation or a small company. In order to succeed in both, the manager must understand when each hat should be worn. This requires skill and practice, but is easier when situations are assessed by asking whether the focus should be on coaching individuals to develop their unique abilities and make the team stronger, or on strategy and directing the strengths of the team as a whole. When managers practice making that distinction, it becomes easier to wear the right hat at the right time, making responsibilities toward both the employees and the company that much easier to uphold.

John Monroe is a Business Development Advisor for Violand Management Associates (VMA), the largest consulting company in the restoration and cleaning industries. Monroe is a leading expert in marketing, sales and sales management for the restoration and cleaning industries with over 30 years of experience in those fields. Through Violand, Monroe works with companies to develop their people and their profits. To reach him, visit or call (800) 360-3513.