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The second phase is the so-called cultivation phase. This part of the coaching journey is the actual implementation of the agenda planned in the initiation stage.

There are 3 stages in cultivation: Motivation, Readiness and the Coaching Relationship.

 Coaching 2

Cultivating motivation

Motivation is related to a person’s willingness and desire to do something. Though we often use the terms “motivation” and “inspiration” synonymously, motivation is not just about being a cheerleader, but also about understanding people and what makes them tick. Effective motivation strategies involve understanding and appealing to a person’s drivers. Leading motivation expert Dan Pink suggests that there are three main drivers that motivate people at work: Purpose, Autonomy, and Mastery. Purpose is about contributing to a greater cause, autonomy has to do with independently creating results, and mastery involves becoming an expert. Discovering and appealing to these drivers can be a powerful way to prepare someone for an effective coaching engagement.

Cultivating readiness

Setting the stage for an effective coaching engagement also requires creating space and providing tools that will foster a coachee’s ability to develop. Highly-motivated entrepreneurs may fail in coaching relationships because they lack the capacity to (1) self-reflect on their development, (2) practice tools or techniques that they are being coached to use, or (3) build the feedback networks, mentors, and alliances they need in order to bring about lasting behavioural change. WECAN project aims at creating an environment for WEcoachees that sets them up for success by making them ready to develop and apply what they learn.

Cultivating the coaching relationship

Once motivation and readiness have reached a good place, the best way to drive effectiveness in coaching is to cultivate the relationship between the WEcoach and coachee. There are three stages to this relationship that deserve an intentional focus by those who are overseeing leadership development efforts.

Before the relationship begins, careful attention ought to be given to pairing coachees with WECoaches that can meaningfully impact them. Common ground, previous experiences, social styles, and learning styles are just a few of the factors that ought to be taken into account when these pairings are made.

During the coaching relationship, both parties need to create an atmosphere that encourages accountability as well as candour around the obstacles and challenges that are holding a coachee back from reaching her full potential. Establishing ground rules, assuring confidentiality, and being open with each other about challenges are just a few examples of ways this can be done. This requires a significant investment of time and preparation on behalf of both parties.

Finally, effective coaches put mechanisms in place to ensure that learning and development continue to happen long beyond the formal coaching engagement. Books, action plans and a variety of other resources exist to give real staying power to the progress that begins in a coaching relationship.

At the root of cultivation is preparation, creating a set of circumstances that enable the various tools and techniques of coaching to lead to genuine growth. Addressing motivation, readiness, and the coaching relationship are key elements to get the best impact possible from the coaching experience.

Cultivation resources

For WECoaches, the cultivation phase means tailoring opportunities to your coachee that foster their growth and then providing the encouragement and agree upon resources that empower them to succeed and become more independent.

WECoaches have specific responsibilities in this phase:

  • Advise on what you know, admit what you don’t and refer to others;
  • Provide relevant examples and resources;
  • Recognize your coachee’s strengths and areas of growth;
  • Give constructive feedback;
  • Foster your coachee’s Independence;
  • Respond to the changing needs of your coachee;
  • Don’t shy away from difficult conversations;
  • Celebrate successes;
  • Revisit coaching plans and expectations;
  • Periodically evaluate progress and assess relationship.

Once the responsibilities are set it is important for WECoaches to identify the skills needed for proceeding with the coaching relationship. For the aim of the WECAN project, WECoaches will use a basic set of skills in order to improve their expertise:

Skill I - Building confidence

A confidential rapport means the WECoach and the coachee feel connected by a trustworthy bond. If WECoaches have good relation with the coachees, they will normally feel more comfortable and relaxed in their company. After the trust has been established between the parts, WECoach and coachees can stipulate a verbal contract for their relationship built upon shared understanding, hope and goals. Once a certain amount of time has passed, they can assess their progress, success and failures and reaffirm and redesign their goals. It is important to underline that the goals must be those of the coachee and that the WECoach needs to guide and support her during the coaching journey.

Skill II - Active listening

Quite often, with the passing of the time, the relationship changes into a friendlier one. It is the WECoach responsibility to maintain an effective communication especially because sometimes the coachee is younger and there may be differences in culture, ethnicity and gender; in this case the coach must understand and accept the values and culture of the coachee and thus be ready to interpret them.

The primary aim of the WECoach is to understand what the coachee is saying. By a process of listening, questioning or clarifying, WECoach should aim to:

  • Make themselves understood: coaches are the instrument through which coaching happens. The clearer they are about the agenda and able to separate their thoughts, feelings, and wants from those of the coachee, the greater the potential for intentional partnership and mutual benefit.
  • Be curious about the other person’s story: listening in order to learn something new (rather than to confirm what you already know) is essential to good coaching. When you get curious about the other person’s story, you open up the possibility of greater connection and value for both parties.
  • Be passionate about their potential: great mentoring means understanding what makes the other person tick, what has brought them to this moment in their career, and where they would like to go next.
  • Share their own experience: one of the pleasures of mentoring is the chance to share one’s own hard-earned experience so that it might be helpful to others coming along a similar path.

Skill III - Managing Challenges

Whenever people work together, there are bound to be times when the relationships are challenged. Disagreements occur even in the best working relationships. In healthy situations, the issues are discussed objectively. Each individual is empowered to state her position and feel confident that the other is genuinely listening and wanting to understand. Possible solutions are explored with open minds, and the potential effects of the solutions are considered and weighed. It might sound an easy process, but it is actually incredibly difficult to implement. People don’t actually see themselves as being wrong and when they do realise they were mistaken, embarrassment and sense of failure freeze the relationship and their self-esteem (See Chapter 3, section 5.2 The value of failure).

Skill IV - Giving supportive feedback

Effective feedback can accelerate a coachee’s learning process and inspire and motivate her to feel valued and appreciated. So, it’s important that a WECoach learns to deliver feedbacks:

  • Given with a positive attitude;
  • Based on facts;
  • Constructive and beneficial.

The term ‘feedback’ means literally to feed information back to someone. This information relates to the person receiving the feedback and provides data from which they can assess their performance or experiences. It can range from a general comment such as ‘That was great/lousy’ to more specific assessments of performance such as ‘You’ve got your hand an inch too high’.


These skills are core to coaching and must be constantly trained in order to keep them fresh and available. The majority of these skills are useful in many other everyday situations and WECoaches will have developed them in other circumstances. By exploring and practising these skill, the coaching process flow naturally and easily.

Setting up the sessions

To have a successful session, WECoach need to prepare ahead of time every encounter, thinking about what they want to reach and prepare a plan or timetable. Sending out a pre-meeting note to remind the coachee what has been achieved during the last discussion and what the agenda for the session is, is definitely a good practice which helps both the WECoach and the coachee staying on track. Before starting the coaching session, the coach and the coachee should have a clear idea of what’s next.

A suitable frequency could be to schedule and keep at least one meeting each month for the first six months. After six months meetings should become less regimented and should occur as needed. If meetings are more frequent, the WECoach is likely to become too hands on, or feel imposed upon. Common sense need to be used when setting up the agenda during the initiation stage, in this way a balance schedule that suits both parties can be found. Both parties need to be prepared to review that agreement if there is a radical change of circumstances.

Most meetings last about two hours. The session can take many different forms. The parties can choose to agree about a fixed agenda or be more free-flowing. It may be easier to set monthly meetings for the same time each month to ease the scheduling. And remember to never leave a meeting without confirming the next one.

It is important to remind that there is no one specific agenda or schedule that fits all relationships. Each coaching process is unique and built on two different individuals who need to encounter their common framework and agreement.

Every session should start with a discussion of what has been achieved since the last meeting, and what challenges the coachee has faced. This is important for three reasons:

  • It sets the context for what will be discussed during the meeting and gives WECoach enough information to be able to help the coachee.
  • It shows that concrete results have been achieved thanks to the encounters and that the coachee takes the sessions advice seriously.
  • It keeps the coachee accountable, increasing the likelihood that she will take action on what discussed before the next meeting.

The main parts of the sessions will be dedicated to a review of the goals and action plans that previously agreed on. This will serve as a means to talk about the current status, to identify new solutions and updating the goals as necessary. It’s important to follow the agenda to make sure that things stay on track and that all the important topics are addressed. It may sound rigid, but it makes sense for both the coach and the coachee to make the best use of their time together. And they’ll find that there’s still plenty of room for more free-flowing discussions as they are reviewing each item.

The questions asked to the coachee should be centred on the goals previously agreed and include the most relevant topics that are useful for their achievements. Some illustrative questions to ask are listed below. These questions provide a good starting point for the conversations:

  • Professional Development
    • What successes do you feel you have achieved in your job? Why were they a success?
    • What important issues have you been addressing?
    • In what ways do you feel you motivate others in a team?
    • Do you have a strategy for influencing others?
    • Have you had a recent work-related circumstance that required you to manage conflict? How did you handle it?
    • Which relationships are particularly difficult for you at work?
    • Where and how could you improve the effectiveness of your team?
    • What tough decisions have you had to make in your job?
    • What decisions are easiest for you to make and which ones are the most difficult? Why?
    • In what ways have you solicited feedback about your performance?
  • Career Guidance
    • What prompted you to take this journey?
    • What areas of your entrepreneurial career would you like to develop?
    • What do you see as the next logical step for your career? What doubts do you have that you may be able to reach the next step?
    • What is your long-term vision for your entrepreneurial career?
    • What are your educational goals?
  • Personal Development
    • What are your current strengths and developmental areas?
    • What steps would you like to take to improve in these areas?
    • What individuals/books/events have most impacted who you are?
    • Do you feel that your work life balance is effective?
    • What are you passionate about?

While discussing the achieved goals, a good habit should be to agree on some action steps, and at the end of the meeting trying to confirm those and put timelines on them.

In the final few minutes of each session, both parties should informally give each other a feedback on how the meeting went. This helps to build the relationship and to address any issues immediately. Also addressing what could be done differently in the future to improve the effectiveness of the sessions and strengthen the relationship is a good stratagem.


Project Coordinator

Centre d'Information Europe Direct

47, rue du Coq, 13001 Marseille, France
+33 4 91 42 94 75

Charlotte Perault, EU Project Manager

Hélène Seigneur, EU Project Manager

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