5 Warning signs that your team needs executive coaching

Bit Famous works with businesses and organisations
to help them communicate with confidence.

By Penny Haslam

MD and Founder - Bit Famous

Penny Haslam

5 Warning signs that your team needs executive coaching. This guide offers a clear understanding of five key signs that indicate a team, or team members, might need executive coaching. 

Written for HR and Learning and Development professionals, it highlights essential areas such as struggles with self-doubt, communication issues, resistance to change, and burnout. 

Recognising these signs is vital for timely intervention and support, ensuring teams stay productive and adapt effectively to workplace challenges. 

The 5 warning signs that teams need executive coaching are:

  1. Struggle with Self-Doubt and Communication: Team members display self-doubt and are ineffective communicators, hindering their ability to share ideas and contribute in meetings.
  2. Difficulties with Presentations: Individuals face challenges in public speaking, leading to nervousness, lack of clarity, and negative self-criticism post-presentation.
  3. Lack of Leadership Clarity: Team managers and senior leaders show poor communication skills and tend to micromanage, indicating a lack of confidence in their leadership abilities.
  4. Resistance to Change: Team members find it hard to adapt to new leadership, roles, or responsibilities, leading to resentment and disengagement.
  5. Signs of Burnout: Excessive stress, overwork, and reduced productivity among team members, often intensified by remote working conditions, signal potential burnout.

A warning sign that a team needs executive coaching: Struggling with self-doubt and communication

Do any individuals struggle with self-doubt, ineffective communication, or hold back on sharing ideas?

Firstly, do any of your team members or the individuals you manage struggle with self-doubt? Are they ineffective communicators? Do they hold back from sharing ideas? Are they quiet in meetings? Reflect on whether these people could share more ideas and speak more fluently about their topics.

Are you missing out on their contributions? Managing a team can be frustrating, especially when certain members are full of ideas and others are not. Everyone should be questioning, challenging, and advancing things. An individual might seem difficult to lead due to their communication style, but it could be a lack of self-belief, self-doubt, hesitation in decision-making, or a tendency to present problems without solutions.

Consider whether a conversation, more support in formal sessions, or coaching time and space would help them grow. I've worked with clients who were unaware of their poor communication skills or felt stuck. Once they overcome these hurdles, they excel significantly. The key is to observe people in action, identify their shortcomings, and determine how they can flourish.

A warning sign that a team needs executive coaching: difficulties with presentation skills

 Do your people shy away from speaking or presenting either internally or as a representative of your organisation?

The second warning sign is observing your team during presentations, both internal and external. Do they hesitate to undertake them? Are they bogged down with excessive preparation? Are they coherent and clear in communicating their message? When they falter, do they berate themselves? "Oh, I'm so nervous. It went terribly," or "I didn't answer that question well."

This common issue is surprisingly simple to resolve. Most people prefer enduring something painful rather than speaking in front of a group, especially at the board level, hoping their presentation is relatable and coherent. However, when I work with clients on this, it's remarkable how quickly they can overcome these challenges.

Often, these issues are personal, stemming from a bad experience or fear of being exposed in certain settings. They also involve skills, so it's a mix of capability and confidence that can be addressed effectively and swiftly to help your team communicate confidently.

Communication is part of our everyday job; it's vital for sharing knowledge, the organization's vision and purpose. If you're not excelling in these areas, you're definitely hindering your career progression. Therefore, it's worthwhile to observe how your team handles this type of communication.

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A warning sign that a team needs executive coaching: lack of leadership clarity

Is there a noticeable lack of clearheaded and visible leadership among team managers or senior leaders?

Number three: Is there a lack of clear-headed and visible leadership among your team managers and senior leaders? These are the individuals who shy away from opportunities to speak and are perhaps poor communicators. You might think, "Oh, if only they engaged their people more."

There are also those who receive more feedback for not being as good communicators as others, perhaps micromanaging or not trusting their teams. This shows a lack of confidence in their abilities to delegate and trust. Of course, trusting your team is essential.

As a leader, you need confidence to be more productive, collaborative, innovative, and all the good stuff. If you observe increased feedback about certain individuals, notice micromanagement, or see they aren't showing up as authentic, accessible, and likeable leaders, then they may need support with their abilities and thinking about their interactions with people.

We're essentially looking at personal brand here. How are they perceived? How are they talked about when they're not in the room? This is a crucial aspect of being a great leader or stepping into leadership. Clients I've worked with have sometimes been frustrated with their own abilities, aware that they're not making as much impact as they should, often stemming from self-doubt.

It's difficult to admit, but once you address and explore these issues, and reflect through coaching sessions and the associated actions and homework, you can grow as an individual and transform your leadership abilities. So, keep an eye out for those who might need support and suggest it gently to them.

A warning sign that a team needs executive coaching: resistance to change

Are team members finding it hard to adapt to change? Perhaps there’s new leadership, new roles or responsibilities.

Number four: Are team members finding it hard to adapt to change? Change is everywhere, but sometimes there's resentment, toxicity, or a reluctance to embrace new leadership, roles, or responsibilities. Change isn't always easy and can take time to adjust to, but often, there isn't much time available.

I've worked with individuals in large organizations who have experienced a lot of change, uncertainty, and volatility and sometimes find themselves stuck, needing to reassess or realign and get a different perspective on the situation. For example, a new dynamic with a new boss may lead a team or a team leader to think, "Oh, I have to report to you, do I?"

This can cause challenges, grumpiness, toxicity, and division – not a great look for anyone. It may result in the person becoming disengaged from the organization or the leader, potentially looking at exit routes, which could be a loss for your organization and an expensive one at that.

Through coaching, I can assess the situation, test, and determine if the feelings are valid, and then explore what can be done about it. This ensures people feel supported and heard, which is crucial, and helps them get back on track with greater resilience and a more positive view of the situation.

Essentially, coaching involves gaining perspective, feeling supported in your thoughts and feelings, and checking in on your actions to see if they were effective or if another approach might be better. This helps people feel less lost amidst significant change and uncertainty. 

A warning sign that a team needs executive coaching: signs of burnout

Are team members showing signs of burnout, such as excessive stress and reduced productivity?

So, finally, one major thing to look out for in terms of warning signs that your team or the members within it may need coaching is to ask yourself: Are team members showing signs of burnout? This includes excessive stress, reduced productivity, and overwork.

This can be a really bad habit for people, especially with a lot of working from home and flexible working involved, where the alarm goes off, you get dressed, sit at your desk, and work flat out all day because there's always a lot to do. There are always a lot of pressure, especially for team managers and leaders who have pressure from above and team members constantly asking for help.

The requirements are endless, and people who are loyal, smart, and want to show their value tend to overwork. So, really look out for signs like not having taken leave all year or working longer hours. If their inbox is stuffed and they always say, "Oh, if only I had more time," it's not because they're not good at time management.

It's about perspective and zooming out to see the big picture, what skills they might need, and what talents or experiences they need to draw on to manage in a healthy way. The last thing you want is someone burning out on your watch because of overwork.

All of this leads to reduced productivity and blockers, meaning they might be unable to attend to their own team's well-being. It can become a hot potato of burnout and stress, which can absolutely be helped through coaching. I have clients who have finally taken holidays, and they're much better as a person for it and as a leader, which is important. 

So those are my five warning signs to check if your team members need coaching support. Get in touch. I'm always happy to have a chat and find out what's on your mind and how I can help.