What’s the Difference Between Coaching and Training Your Employees?

I’m often asked to explain the difference between coaching and training. We tend to use these words interchangeably even though they have different meanings.

To put it simply: Training establishes a foundation -- a core set of skills to help complete functions of the job competently. Coaching, on the other hand, develops skills beyond the technical by improving your professionalism, business practices, and performance.

A top-performing plumbing, electrical or HVAC business is going to be equally focused on both.

Why Your Home Service Business Needs Training and Coaching

In the plumbing, electrical and HVAC trades, we tend to focus on training. After all, these are technical fields. But if your technicians’ skills are limited to fixing things, your business will plateau. That’s why training should also include soft skills, such as sales and customer service.

Key Characteristics of Training in the Trades

  • Training is more technical in nature. It offers instruction on a process.
  • Training generally takes place in a group setting.
  • Training is usually limited to a short period of time

Why Training Matters

If you’re heading into the new year with the goal to achieve a certain amount of sales, you’ll need a sales training program to level up your technicians. In this case, the training curriculum would include how to effectively communicate with customers and identify opportunities.

Or maybe your goal is to improve your online reviews. Any positive review will mention how friendly and knowledgeable the technician was -- oh, and by the way, he fixed the problem. Conversely, a negative review will go on and on about how the technician was messy, late and grumpy. The fact that he got the furnace working again was beside the point. If you want more 5-star reviews, you’ll need a training program to improve customer service.

Key Characteristics of Coaching in the Trades

  • Coaching is about progress. Coaching is usually one-on-one and it can be an ongoing process with the ultimate goal of achieving growth.
  • Coaching is focused on leadership. How effective are your company’s leaders? Where are there areas for improvement? Are they in alignment with one another? Are they expressing your company’s vision to your employees? A coaching program ensures that leaders in your organization are on the same page and striving for the same goal.
  • Coaching is about accountability. Accountability is the difference between wanting to grow and achieving growth. It holds leaders responsible for the direction the business is heading.

Why Coaching Matters

Coaching often involves consultation with an outside expert -- a fresh pair of eyes -- to appraise your business objectively and identify weaknesses and opportunities. Rather than zero in on a specific need, coaching is more holistic. It’s about setting benchmarks, holding leaders accountable and creating a roadmap to guide your organization to a predetermined outcome. A good business coach will be by your side along your growth journey.

Training and Coaching Are Complementary

Here’s another way to think about it: Training is teaching someone a new topic. Coaching is asking the right questions and patiently navigating to the response you want after they’ve been trained. As a result, they learn the material better and become more independent. In short, one tells, the other instills.

Ready to Take Your Home Services Business to the Next Level?

After transforming S&D Plumbing into a 5-star, multi-million dollar company, Dan Dowdy became a John Maxwell certified executive coach and founded Built For The Trades with the goal of helping plumbing, electrical and HVAC businesses achieve their goals. To schedule an appointment, call (800) 789-4486.