The future of people development: coaching for better results
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The future of people development: coaching for better results

Coaching is certainly not the newest topic, nor the latest type of people development approach — not in Thailand or anywhere else in the world. Yet many people still misunderstand the differences between teaching, training and coaching; thus, they use the terms interchangeably regardless of their actual interpretation.

This article is intended to clarify the differences and to shed light on the benefits of coaching — better financial performance or better people engagement — to pave the way for more adoption.

When we talk about coaching, I’m sure that a familiar image for most of us will be of an athlete being coached to excel at his or her performance. But in reality, there might be a combination of coaching, teaching and training methods used during that development session.

Let’s imagine this: if I talk about learning how to play golf, it could involve showing the proper way to hold a golf club, the right way to stand, the rules of the game, and other details like the physics of force and mass. But do you think that any golfer, professional or amateur, would be able to play just by learning all those details from a manual or instructions? The answer is obvious: no.

On the contrary, coaching another person to play golf involves looking at other factors in order to improve the ability to play. These include assessing his or her natural swing of a golf club, suggesting ways to increase the distance they drive the ball, as well as correcting one’s head position, stance and hand grips.

Likewise, the metaphor of a coach in business signifies having somebody driving us toward our goals by helping us identify and focus on what’s important, which accelerates success. Most importantly, it is about encouraging someone to learn based on what they already know and providing critical guidance when appropriate or necessary.

In other words, it is said that teaching and training are mainly concentrated on instruction through telling and showing someone how to do something; thus, focusing on areas that are deficient. Coaching, on the other hand, builds on a person’s innate abilities and focuses on the person being coached, whether an athlete or executive, instead of the teacher or the instructor.

Moreover, training tends to assume that every individual would better benefit from standardised instruction whereas coaching assumes that the personalised path of learning for each individual will be more effective and applicable. The thing I often see, though, is that teaching and training are one-way communication where information is disseminated from the instructor through (most of the time) a PowerPoint-based session, while coaching is based on two-way interactive communication that includes critiques and feedback.

In the most practical sense, coaching technically prepares people for the “what if” type of situation but training and teaching focus on “what is” or “what happened”; thus, coaching is more future-oriented whereas training is problem- and past-oriented. This implies that while teaching can provide the basic skills and knowledge, coaching prepares people for future tasks and challenges.

Now, I don’t want you to think that training and teaching are outdated or useless because they can equally enable an organisation to develop new skills for its workforce. However, if you’re reading this as an HR practitioner looking for the right development tools, or if you’re a high-level manager seeking a way to improve your staff’s overall performance, then I’d recommend you choose the tools most suited to your business needs, styles and structure — be they a single method or the combination of many, since a single approach does not fit all.

Coaching, however, has the potential to accelerate performance to the point you want to reach more quickly than any other methods. But keep in mind that only organisations that truly embrace coaching as part of their organisational culture — applying it to staff at all levels — can genuinely benefit from what coaching has to offer.

In the next article, I will talk further about coaching culture in detail, covering its true meaning and how to establish and actualise it within an organisation.

Arinya Talerngsri is Group Managing Director at APMGroup, Thailand’s leading Organisational and People Development Consultancy. For more information, write an e-mail to or visit

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