Coaching or Making Demands?


When it comes to coaching, there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. While you may want your employees to perform at their best, they don’t want to feel like they’re being controlled or micromanaged by their managers. As such, if you’re not careful about how much control you exert over the people who work for you, it could lead to resentment and other issues down the line. 

There is a thin line between coaching and making demands. A study by HBR found that many managers tend to think that they’re training their employees, but in reality, they are actually telling their employees what to do (making demands). 

So how can you tell the difference?

The difference between coaching and making demands is that the former focuses teaching employees how to learn, whereas the latter is more about getting results. Coaching involves helping employees improve upon their strengths and weaknesses, whereas making demands tends to focus more on solving a problem right now. 

Is making demands good for business? 

No, employees may take it the wrong way. They can feel like you’re trying to control, micromanage, or that you don’t trust their abilities to get the job done. In addition, it’s important to remember that people do a better job when they are happy and enjoy what they do. 

There are better ways to motivate employees than to make demands of them. For example, you can ask them how they would go about doing something or what they think would be the best way to accomplish a task. This helps employees feel more involved in their work and allows them to come up with solutions that match your company culture. This helps management adapt to changing worker demands. 

How to be a better coach?

Referencing research from HBR, here are some practical ways to be a better coach: 

  1. Assist with goal setting 
  2. Provide structure and guidance
  3. Show empathy 
  4. Listen carefully – without judgement 
  5. Give constructive feedback 
  6. Question with a solution-focused approach 
  7. Recognize and point out strengths

To achieve this, first, you must have a high level of self-awareness so that you can recognize your own blind spots, which are often what causes managers to make demands rather than coach. 


The key to being a good coach is listening carefully and supporting your employees as they work through their challenges. The best coaches are empathetic, have high levels of self-awareness, and can help people find solutions for themselves that work within the context of the organization.