You may be a school student, undergraduate, employee or a parent. In your lifespan, you would have helped at least one person develop himself. Remind yourself of such a moment. When your friend, junior or even an older person comes to you asking for your help or telling their grievances, what was your response? Were you able to handle the situation and support him? Or did you make it worse?
I have had plenty of such situations. Yes, of course I have helped many individuals to overcome problematic situations and have enabled them to improve themselves. Unfortunately, there were a few times I made it worse. However, it was circumstantial. At least for me. When someone comes to me for advice, I just guide them with my gut feeling, rather than going about it in a sensible, methodical way. Hence, it was pretty bad sometimes.
I was lucky to participate in a session conducted by 99X Technology, featuring Senaka Premaratne, Chief Learning Facilitator at HighFive Consultants and Damitha Jayasinghe, Vice President Operations, CodeGen International, Hasith Yaggahavita, CTO at 99X Technology and Sachith Perera, Software Architect at 99X Technology, on ‘Helping people realize their potential’.
I was inspired after the listening to the sessions and felt the need to document my learning. Note that what follows are points brought up by the speakers.

Coaching vs. Mentoring

Mr. Senaka shared one of his life experiences. Once, Mr. Senaka was on a interview panel to recruit a medical sales rep. At the interview, there was one candidate who was not fluent in English. When asking his achievements, he said that he saved 3 lives during the Tsunami (in Sinhala). His educational background was average as well. (We will call him Heshan)
At the interview, the panel decided not to hire Heshan but Mr. Senaka saw something in this person and went up to him after leaving the room and asked that if he was given a chance to improve his fluency in English, would he take up the challenge? Heshan teared and said yes, as at that time, it was his only hope to bring up his family’s status.
Then Heshan was given the job on a contract basis under the direct supervision of Mr. Senaka. Throughout the probation period, Mr. Senaka volunteered to get him on board. He gave step- by-step instructions to Heshan on what to do and taught him roughly how to do his job. When he failed, Mr. Senaka gave him instructions again and again, with the mindset of making Heshan learn the job. After around a year, Heshan was perfect in his job. He came to Mr. Senaka and asked if he could be made permanent.
However, Mr. Senaka felt that Heshan was better than that. He could have a better life and better career. So he asked few questions from Heshan.
  • Do you think for the rest of life, you are okay to work as a sales rep?
  • What do you want to become after 3 years?

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Written by: Rashmika Nawaratne, Senior Software Engineer, 99X Technology