The 2 Most Powerful Words for Coaching Employees

During my last year at General Electric (GE), they successfully piloted a new employee evaluation process. I was a little skeptical at first.

Luckily we had an awesome HR Leader, Meghan DeFoe. She trained and coached our leadership team on the process. Plus, our team leader Amar Arekapudi championed the pilot within our organization. This program taught me the 2 most powerful words for coaching: Continue & Consider.

4 Basic Principles for Coaching

There are many different schools of thought or strategies for coaching employees. I even recommend a book - The Coaching Habit - Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever - by Michael Bungay Stanier. Yet, I’ll list out a few things you can always do below, then how to use continue and consider.

1. Actively Listen – Ensure you listen to your employees. Don’t interrupt and allow them to speak openly

2. Understand – Have them walk you through their thought process. Develop a greater understanding of the situation, decision, etc.

3. Remain Cool, Calm, and Collected – You’re the leader. To effectively coach, remain calm. This will allow your employee to feel safe and not defensive

4. Use Continue & Consider – Once you’ve listened and gained an understanding, use the terms continue and consider

How to use Continue & Consider?

It’s so damn easy to use Continue and Consider for coaching! Plus, the terminology disarms an employee. If you want to promote a behavior, action, or thought process … use continue. If you want to change something … use consider.

Example 1: Continue

Julie, thank you for being so prepared for your presentation today. Walk me through your preparation process? Listen & understand. Then you simply state, “Julie, continue to use that process to prepare for presentations." In fact, you can use the same X, Y, & Z principles to develop your next strategy session.

In this example you were able to promote Julie’s behavior, but also coach her on how it can be used for a different scenario.

Example 2: Consider

Jim, thank you for presenting during the strategy session today. Can you walk me through your preparation process? Listen & understand. Then, Julie, I like how you do X. Please continue to use that. Next time I’d like you to consider using Y & Z. Y & Z will help you provide a clearer message to your audience. I’d be happy to help you work through the process. Let’s set up time next week to review these steps before the next strategy session.

In this example you were able to understand Jim’s thought process for preparation. You then provided him a positive message to continue with a certain step. After the positive, you used “consider.” This neutralized any defensive behavior, but provided coaching on the proper process. Last, you followed this up with making yourself available to help the next time.

You Don’t Have to be a Manager or Leader to Coach

You can use continue and consider on your colleagues and managers as well. These terms are useful when providing feedback throughout the organization. It will depend on your organization’s culture, but hopefully your colleagues value feedback. 

I hope this post helped. Please continue to check back each week for my leadership posts. Also, consider sharing this article with your network if it’s helped you.

Last, how you are showing up as a leader? Consider if you could benefit from Executive Coaching. If you want to explore the idea, click here.

Take care,