Coaching not Managing in a Trades Business

Many of us working in the trades industries have played football or some other team sport. We have all had some great coaches as role models that we’ve looked up to and will never forget. Make it your goal to be that person.

A good coach guides and empowers employees rather than telling them what to do.

What is Coaching?

The term ‘coaching’ refers to a two-way communication process between members of the organisation (leaders to team members, peers to peers) aimed at influencing and developing the employees’ skills, motivation, attitude, or ability to perform, and their willingness to contribute to an organisation’s goals.

It is common to hear the terms ‘managing’ and ‘coaching’ used interchangeably. Those who understand the difference cringe a little inside when this occurs because it is likely they have worked for a ‘manager’ or ‘supervisor’ who certainly was not a coach and so may not have been as effective as they could have been.


According to the Harvard Business Review, coaching is about connecting with employees and inspiring them to achieve their best. It’s also about helping employees find their own solutions to the challenges they face, rather than handing them the answers.

Why Coach?

There are many benefits of guiding and empowering employees rather than telling them what to do. Providing opportunities for growth, development and autonomy is rewarding to staff and far more productive for your business. Other benefits include:

  • Creating an open environment, where everyone can speak freely
  • Building staff engagement
  • Encouraging mutual trust
  • Enhancing performance
  • Boosting job satisfaction and teamwork.

Once a manager learns how to think, talk, and behave like a coach, the ‘coaching process’ not only becomes second nature to the coach but changes the attitudes and behaviours of their team members. Coaching is a skill that needs to be learned and continue to be refined over time.

What is Managing?

The term ‘managing’ refers to the job of overseeing the work of others. Some of the responsibilities of a manager include:

  • On-boarding and orienting new employees
  • Conducting meetings
  • Delegating responsibility and jobs (give your staff autonomy)
  • Giving (constructive) feedback
  • Monitoring progress and performance
  • Making decisions
  • Dealing with conflicts
  • And the most important of all, mentoring.

Things to Avoid

A few of the things we should never do as managers include:

  • Micro-managing
  • Preaching
  • Belittling a team member
  • Allowing a team member to drown in work
  • Going a day without showing the team our appreciation.

Unfortunately, too many managers fall short of success because they focus on the tasks and bottom-line results, overlooking the fact that results are best achieved through developing and inspiring others to achieve those results. While achieving results through others is a challenging task, organisations cannot grow and compete if their managers don’t talk to people about their contributions to the organisation. With regular and skilful coaching of their staff, managers can fulfil their key goal – a cohesive and safe team.

Author – David McDonald
Chief Operating Officer

I hate being told what to do!

As a footnote, I would like to explain my philosophy behind “coaching not managing”. Like most people, I hate being told what to do so I always work with the team and never dictate to them.

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