What First Time Leaders Really Need To Know with Paul O’Beirne

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In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with master facilitator and executive coach Paul O’Beirne on what a first-time leader really needs to know and so does the organization they work for.

A few reasons why he is awesome  — he is a master facilitator, executive coach and the CEO and Founder of ORCA HR Solutions, LLC, an executive coaching consultancy that works with individuals, teams and organizations in creating their desirable future. Before that, he worked for 25 years as a senior Human Resources leader on Microsoft executive teams, focusing extensively on leadership and team development across global and diverse organizations. Fun Fact: He worked with the London Business School to develop a global leadership program for high-potential leaders.

Connect with, and learn more about Paul on his…



  • Transition challenges for new leaders.
  • Importance of support systems.
  • Leadership vs. management.
  • Understanding role and relationships.
  • Asking for help and adapting.
  • Building networks and managing relationships.
  • Importance of feedback structures for self-awareness.

“And sometimes I think we don’t hold managers accountable for the things that managers or leaders should be doing. We can sometimes over focus on results they got, but not on how they got those results.”

Paul O’Beirne


Russel Lolacher: And on the show today we have Paul O’Beirne and here is why he is awesome. He’s a master facilitator, executive coach and the CEO and founder of Orca HR Solutions LLC, an executive coaching consultancy that worked with individuals, teams and organizations in creating their desirable future. That’s not all he’s from.

He’s also got 25 years of experience as a senior HR leader over at Microsoft executive teams, where they focused extensively on leadership and team development across global and diverse organizations. And I also have a bit of a fun fact for Paul. He worked with the London Business School to develop a global leadership program for high potential leaders.

I have a feeling we’re talking about leadership today. Hello, Paul.

Paul O’Beirne: Hi. All things leadership. That’s what we’re…

Russel Lolacher: if anybody’s playing a drinking game right now, they’re probably about five or six drinks in. So, and that’s just the bio. We haven’t even gotten into anything else yet. So before we get into what we’re talking about today, which is new leaders, let’s first… I have to ask the question I ask all of my guests, what Paul is your best or worst employee experience?

Paul O’Beirne: I’ve had some incredible opportunities in my career and, I think the thing that I’ve, I’ve loved all the work, all the, all the jobs I’ve had I’ve had some pretty crappy jobs before I started on my professional career from cleaning out grain pits with rats running around to working inside boilers with it.

The chisel and hammer, but, and so those, those things, I have memories of kind of worst jobs, but, I think the thing that has probably differentiated those jobs where I felt most, excited about was when I had leaders who empowered me to be my best. So one of the things I don’t work well with micromanagers, and so one of my sort of, autonomy and freedom is important for me. In, in, in working in my roles. So I’ve had some incredible jobs, but there’s been one or two where I have not been as fully engaged when I’ve had micromanagers and they would micromanage the details and sometimes not see what I would call the wood from the trees where you’re having a sort of a strategic impact, but you’re maybe not looking after some of those details, which I may not have thought were that important at that time. And they gave a lot more credence to some of those things,

Russel Lolacher: So for someone that knows themselves, that knows they don’t like micromanagement, that knows they like empowerment and some autonomy. How did those leaders, who managed you, did you feel how they recognized and understood you well enough to allow for that?

Paul O’Beirne: Some definitely did, and they knew that I would do my best work if they kind of… I remember my first, so my first boss who brought me talking about it a little bit where I might’ve needed a little bit more micromanagement. So I started my career with Microsoft in Ireland. Spent five or six years growing that from like about seven people to about 2000.

And then I was brought into this really large scale up role where I was responsible for 15 divisions of Microsoft, as well as Ireland, and I was reporting them to the VP of HR who was literally new in this role. And when I came over, I was expecting this wonderful onboarding experience. I was going to be slowly introduced to all of these executives, like the chief operating officer, who was my client, and the CIO and all of these type of guys. And what was really interesting, he, he met me for about 40 minutes I think on my first day, he gave me a list of who are all of the people I needed to meet. And he said, come back on Friday. And so that was kind of like you know, I, I was sort of unleashed and, but then there’s other ones where, as I say they would be much more in Microsoft, we had some global programs we had to roll out, or we had to manage the, the famous performance review for Microsoft.

And there were a lot of sort of details and stuff like that. And the managers who kind of like over focused on those details and held you accountable for every little metric that I thought most of them were ridiculous, anyway at the time, they were the ones that didn’t inspire me. The guy that I came over to work with, I mean, he was, he was, he was there to support me when he needed, but he also knew that look, unleashing me, letting me find out some things on my own, going in and working on this. And it was great, I really grew in that position.

Russel Lolacher: Fantastic. Well, that’s a nice segue into our in our conversation today. So we’re focusing really on new leaders. And what new leaders need, what cultures and other leaders need to know about new leaders. Before we get anywhere though, Paul, I’m a big fan of definitions that we sort of figure out what our song sheet is before we start singing from it.

So what is a new leader? How would you define a new leader or a first time leader in an organization?

Paul O’Beirne: Yeah. So a first time leader there, there’s this kind of expression that some people use from sort of bud to boss, and it’s kind of like where I was your peer yesterday and tomorrow I’m going to be your manager. And so, first time leaders have to grow from individual contributors to managers and then scale up in, in, in, in their leadership. And one of the first challenges, and we, we work with a lot of tech organizations, is that a lot of people get promoted to the manager position. And what they don’t realize that it’s not a promotion, it’s a career change. And so one of the key things is a new leader or a new manager… so when I think about the definition of a new manager, it’s that individual who has to make that transition from being an individual contributor to being the new manager where, you know, yesterday I was your peer and now your manager, how do I navigate that?

Like I remember, I remember one day we had a guy who used to work for me. And he sort of navigated one day he was my friend and the next day he was a dictator. Because that’s what he thought he should have to do. It is a challenging space and some careers and some roles have much more challenges moving in that space than others depending what the role they’re coming from. And there’s, there’s even some really good research on it.

Russel Lolacher: Now, when we’re talking about leaders and you’re using manager almost interchangeably with leader. And I want to kind of make sure what we’re talking about here, because when you go to a manager, there’s a lot of manager positions that are very much check a box, make sure the productivity happens, but that’s not leadership.

Paul O’Beirne: Here’s the thing about leadership is leadership and authority synonymous? Well, I would say no, right? And so there are people who have the role of leader, but they don’t act like a leader, right? And there are people who don’t have the role of leader and they act like a leader. And so if we were to take the definition of leadership in a more broader basis, I think it’s people who have a positive influence on either others or the system, right? While managers, when I say a new leader sometimes people think of leadership and management in terms of you move from a place where you’re an individual contributor and now you’re responsible for working with either a team or a group of people and helping them be their best. And so the role shifts. So which one do you want to talk about?

Russel Lolacher: Fair enough. Fair enough.

Paul O’Beirne: Or both?

Russel Lolacher: Yeah. Well, I, I mean, we’re, we’re talking about those that are first in those positions of influence. That are first in those, those roles of leadership, where it’s, oh, it’s not just delivering a things. I have humans I’m responsible for and accountable for.

Paul O’Beirne: So if we, if we talk about that role where you have humans you’re responsible for, that’s where we say it’s not a promotion, it’s a career change. And the reason being is that you need to have a whole new set of skills, right? And you also have to have a mindset. And the problem is one, a lot of people get put into these roles. They don’t have the set of skills and the mindset shift is challenging. And it’s, it’s more challenging for some roles, then it is for others.

Russel Lolacher: How do you let those new leaders know that it is a career change? That now it is about accountability and responsibility rather than delivery… as much as delivery.

Paul O’Beirne: I think part of it is helping them understand what is their role and what has shifted for them. And also like, where are they going to spend their time and effort? And it’s more challenging and say, for example, engineering organizations or people who are very technical and come into new roles. And so what happens, and there’s a whole different what we call between expert leadership and more strategic leadership, right? And what happens sometimes is when somebody gets promoted, you asked a question around what do we need to know about those leaders who go into those roles. They’re in an ambiguous space now from where they were before. So they were really good. So you take like your tech person, just as an example, and they get promoted now to a manager role. They’re used to being really good at sort of developing technology, programming, product management, whatever, whatever the role was. And now you’re putting them into a space where they’re feeling incompetent. Because sometimes they’re put into those roles without giving all of this sort of development and stuff like that. and and that, and because they’ve always been rewarded for being the best that they are, it’s hard even for some of them to even ask for help because they feel if I ask for help, it must mean I’m failing. And when I’ve been rewarded for being the best, I’m not going to tell anybody that.

Russel Lolacher: So many studies Paul out there that illustrate how many people are put in leadership positions… early thirties, mid thirties, but don’t see any training until they’re in their forties, late forties, executive, executive levels. So if you’re… to your point, if you’re a leader looking at this new leader, what advice would you give them to support this person that may not be getting that formal training?

Paul O’Beirne: Well, one, I think the advice is helping them understand that they’re in a different role. To their responsibility is not always to get the job done, but to get the job done through others. And two, that they have to understand that they need support and they need help in terms of learning that new role. So having a good mentor or having somebody who’s gone through that and can empathize with them in terms of the space that they’re in. And help them navigate that, because what happens is the typical sort of scenario is you hear like we had a great engineer. We promoted him. We got a bad manager and we lost a great engineer.

And so what happens is instead of sort of saying, okay, let’s, we have now a bad manager. We have a manager who’s got underprepared. What we need them to understand is we have to help them understand. We need to learn a whole new skills. We need to have a different perspective. We need to know. And what, but what happens to them is they feel uncomfortable. So what they do is they go back to doing what they know well. So they will over focus on, for example, the execution of their, their role. I’ve even seen some senior leaders who are struggling in their roles, like tech leaders who will go back to programming. They’re meant to lead a whole team, but they’ll go back and they’ll do the programming of the thing because it gives them comfort. It reinforces that they’re still good and stuff like that.

Russel Lolacher: It’s a…

Paul O’Beirne: So it’s an ambiguous space.

Russel Lolacher: Yes and I can see that from programming. I was talking to an executive just the other day and you’re like, ‘You know what? I’d be good getting back to admin work, I used to do 20 years ago’ because it’s safe because it’s… I can build confidence in that role. So that makes me think actually. So if I’m a person that’s offered a leadership position, say I’m not in it yet, are there some guardrails or things that I should be considering before I even accept that sort of role?

Paul O’Beirne: Um, yes, I think understanding what the role is and what the expectations of the role, right? Also, what support am I going to get from you as a manager in helping me be successful in that? And, and because there are some people they get into, into the role and within six months they’re hating it and they want to just go back to doing what they did, and, and so I think before you kind of accept it is understand what, what, what is the role? What am I responsible? What type of development am I going to get? But what happens is people are sort of focused on the shiny star. Oh, I’m going to get promoted. And so the first thing I would say to them, Russel, you’re getting promoted, but this is a career change, not a promotion. Do you understand what that means?

Russel Lolacher: But you and I both come from generations where we would just take the job because it’s a promotion, because it’s more money, because it’s more responsibility, because that’s what our dads did, because we’re lucky to even have this job. However, generations coming up now are like, no, I got some questions to ask.

I’ve got some things I need, which I’m from my Gen X heart. I’m like, Yes, I wish I asked those questions during my career. So there’s some, certainly some things we can learn from those Gen Zeds and those millenials.

Paul O’Beirne: Absolutely. Gen Z and Gen Y are… and they’re also not going to… they will quit. Right? If they’re not getting support, or they will quit if they’re not getting feedback, or they will quit if they’re not getting recognition, or they’ll quit if they don’t have what they would think is good management. We would have stuck around because we were kind of loyal.

Russel Lolacher: So I want to get a little bit more granular here to this. If I’m a new leader in my career, I’ve started getting influence for the first time. I’m expected in this career change. I want to break it almost down to a 30, 60, 90. What would you…

Paul O’Beirne: You mean 30, 60, 90 days?

Russel Lolacher: Yeah. What would you like to see a new leader do…

Paul O’Beirne: Yeah.

Russel Lolacher: In that, in those 30, 60, 90 brackets?

Paul O’Beirne: Yeah. So I usually sort of think if they’re a new leader into the company, where we’re bringing them in if they’re within the company. So I usually break it down is they need to understand their job. They need to understand their, their, their boss. They need to understand their team and they need to understand the company. So if they’re coming in from the outside. If they’re already in there, they need to understand their boss, they need to understand their team, and they need to understand the role that they’re going to have to play. And so one of the first things is they need to get to know each of, each of their team members. And understand that not all of them are going to think the same as them and not all of them will have the same different styles and understand that sometimes they may have to adapt to the different styles or the different people that they have. Understanding their job, like what are my deliverables? And so what happens in many places, you have your individual contributor deliverables, and then you have your deliverables for your team, right? And so understanding what those expectations around that. And then the thing is, if they’re new into the company, they really need to understand the politics, the culture of the company, what behaviors get reinforced, rewarded and stuff like that. So that they help, they know how to navigate some of those things.

Russel Lolacher: I remember having a conversation with a new leader and it was about the difference between being effective and being successful. And I’m like, they are not the same things because being effective might be some information that you can bring in. And that if you do X, Y, Z, it’ll be amazing. But your boss might have different opinions of what this or that is. So success is doing what they tell you to do, regardless of what the result is. So if…

Paul O’Beirne: Well, yeah, and sometimes navigating some of that, you know…

Russel Lolacher: Absolutely,

Paul O’Beirne: Can be challenging,

Russel Lolacher: So what would you tell a leader not to be focusing so much on?

Paul O’Beirne: One of the things I would probably tell them is that one, it’s okay to ask for help. And two, this is going to be uncomfortable because you’re in a new space, right? And so don’t overly focus on the fact that you’re not feeling successful in every aspect of your role. Or do you need to be? Because what happens, I think, is people are trying to be good at all the things that they do and then they find that, look, they can’t just do that because they’re not ready. So they have to sort of build up their skills. They’re not going to be ready day one. And do build a network of people who can support you and help you.

Russel Lolacher: Who’s responsible for new leaders, Paul? Like who’s responsible for making sure they get the support they need? HR, executives, their direct report, who’s responsible for this?

Paul O’Beirne: There’s like a number of people who are responsible. I think the company is overall responsible in terms of are they putting people into positions where they’re giving them the skills to be successful? So what is the overall sort of focus around, and prioritization around, people development, right? I think human resources have, have, have the opportunity to facilitate those things happening, but I also think there’s a big responsibility on the leader’s manager to help that person be successful. And, and sometimes I think we don’t hold managers accountable for the things that managers or leaders should be doing. We can sometimes over focus on results they got, but not on how they got those results.

Russel Lolacher: I constantly say that…

Paul O’Beirne: And, you have a person who’s a great leader and they leave and their whole organization dies. So they haven’t been building strength within their organization.

Russel Lolacher: Well, you make a great point that leaders need leaders too. And unfortunately, we seem to… We seem to put so much pressure on a leader to be successful. The ends justify the means, deliver, deliver, which you’ve illustrated. That’s not leadership, especially if you’re leaving and not creating new leaders to, to fill the void once you’re gone. What this worries me though, is the work life balance of it all. New leaders, there’s this expectation where you have to prove yourself. You have to work those extra hours. You have to deliver to prove yourself to then, I guess you’re working to be more relaxed later on, which never happens.

But what would you say to those organizations that are treating new leaders in this way around the burnout, around the overwork?

Paul O’Beirne: Yeah. So and even like coaching sort of senior leaders and executives in this space, a lot of them when they’re scaling up where they’re transitioning from one role and it’s the same from an individual contributor to a manager role or for a manager to a larger leadership role, sometimes they end up working harder. And they putting in a lot more time and effort on things, and sometimes they have to take a step back and work different, right? Cause like just running faster on the treadmill, it’s going to tire you out and burn you out, but it may not get you where you are. So that’s why I say like this whole career change and mind shift. And this goes through all different levels of leaders. Sometimes just shifting that perspective and how I look at my situation. Like we coach a lot of leaders and I’ve coached a lot of leaders. Sometimes the thing I have to do, is the first thing I have to do is get them to slow down. I have to get them to delegate more. I have to look at where do they actually spend their time? Are they spending their time? In all of this sort of expert part of their role, or are they actually getting up on what we call the balcony and the dance floor. So the balcony is where now you can get up and you shift your perspective. And so you start seeing things in a different way because your viewpoint and you don’t have to kind of like keep on running, running faster on the treadmill. There’s times, yes, where you have to do that, but if you’re going to continuously do that, you’re going to burn out pretty quickly. You’re also not going to make the best decisions because you’re stressed, you’re in a reactive mode and stuff. In some of the programs we work is we start off with our whole program around managing self, which is everything from self care, emotional intelligence, self awareness, when you get into some of these new roles or going into the shift into these places.

Russel Lolacher: The problem is, is though, and I, I’ve seen examples of this, where you’ll talk to a new leader and you’re like, what’s your job? Just out of curiosity as a leader, what is your job? And their answer is to make my boss happy. And that breaks my heart every single time, which leads to this burnout and these expectations.

Paul O’Beirne: Yeah, it, it, it, it, it does. And sometimes it’ll fail them because they’ll, they’ll work so hard to make their boss happy. They, they’re not leading their teams. There’s a lot of dissatisfaction. People are leaving their organization and they may end up being the victim because then the boss may not fully support them at that stage.

Russel Lolacher: You talk, you talk about self leadership, and this is where I’m, I’m kind of curious as to, so I’m, I’m empathizing with that person that’s not understanding that they should have boundaries. The… how do you empower them, Paul? If is it, they should be looking for other leaders to go, could you stick up for me? Or do they have skills they have to learn themselves to go? You know what?

Paul O’Beirne: They have skills they have to learn themselves. That’s why I say it’s a career change. There’s a whole new set of skills. It’s managing up, down and across. And you’ll find even with more experienced leaders, some of them are really good at managing their team and they’re managing down, but they don’t do as well as managing up and across. And then they have difficulty getting to that next level of leadership because they haven’t built alliances or they don’t know how to sort of engage with more senior leadership, and they’re spending all of their time getting their team to be the most effective. But they may have to think, okay, how do we work cross group? How do we work in matrix relationships?

Russel Lolacher: Is there an understanding of when to make that switch? Because as we talked about 30, 60, 90, it was very much what’s the job, learn your team, figure out what success looks like… But you’re talking about new leaders needing to shift at a certain point where it’s about that network and understanding the relationships up. How do you know that you’re ready to start pivoting, or at least start engulfing new responsibilities and networking?

Paul O’Beirne: I think you have to kind of get your the first few things kind of aligned where you you have to understand your team. You have to develop a cadence with your team. You have to look at, are you helping them be their best and stuff like that? But it also depends on the role you put it, right? You could be put in a role in your first manager role, which is very matrixed role. And so one of the things you might have to think about is, okay, not alone. Okay. Do I have to learn my job? When I think about learning the company, I have to think about who are the people I’m dependent on or who are the people who are dependent on for me.

And so what are the networks that I have to build or who are the people that I need to build relationships with? So we used to do this thing called, Leading in the Matrix. And one of the first exercises we used to give people was to draw out who are all of the connections that they have, right?

So up, down and across, and then how often do they need to be connecting with some of those people and who’s critical in that network? Cause not everybody is right. And so that’s why I say it’s sometimes giving people tools, perspectives…. But one of the things we, we start off with is self awareness, because if you’re not self aware, you’re being controlled and you don’t have the ability to control things, right? So when we think about our approach to helping managers and even in some of the programs we do, we start off with what insights do I have into my own leadership? And so that could be some type of assessment. It could be some, some type of feedback. Now I’m aware of it. And I, and the next step we call is, am I willing to acknowledge that and take ownership? So we call this the sort of four A’s framework, awareness, acknowledgement, action, and then realize this is not a straight line. And adaptation means that you have to sort of continuously adapt, but it’s amazing when sometimes you do like these assessments with leaders and they understand how other people are thinking about them or they’re getting some of that feedback. Now they have some choices that they may not have had before. So we really believe that self awareness is critical as people go into new manager, leadership roles and, and trying to keep that, that I need to be self aware. I need to know myself.

Russel Lolacher: I agree with you. Self awareness is one of the biggest superpowers you can have as a leader. Understanding how you handle anger, how you handle frustration, how you handle success. How, how your energy shows up your team or executive. Absolutely. I couldn’t agree with you more.

But what should be a feedback structure? Because you need others to help inform your self awareness because you’re sometimes a little too close to it. So as a new leader, how are you setting that up? What does that look like?

Paul O’Beirne: Well, so there’s, so there’s, there’s a couple of things. So, one of the programs we do is learning to sort of give and receive feedback. And so like even receiving feedback is a vulnerable thing to go into. And so if, if we can also do, there’s, there’s psychometric assessments you can do, even though they’re not a 360, they will give you an understanding of when you’re overdoing your strengths or overdoing your certain behaviors. And what kind of impact that has, and just even having that reality, knowing, so for example, I might be very competitive, but when I’m sort of stressed or tired, it comes across as abrasive, or it comes across as confrontational. Right? And so just even knowing some of those things, when a strength is being overused. And so I think building that awareness gives people a sort of a greater armory of things that they can use. And, and you can do it by individual self assessments. You can do it by a very simple question like in stakeholder centered feedback, which is this kind of thing where you go and ask a question. And I’d say to you, Russel, is one thing I can do going forward, as, as, as, your leader or as your manager, that is going to make me more effective, just one.

Russel Lolacher: I love that.

Paul O’Beirne: And you might, the first time you might say, God, I’m not going to give this guy feedback because he’s not going to do it. But right. But the key is when we’re, when we’re, when we’re working on the manager, you say, the only thing you can do is when somebody talks, is what do you think that is? Listen.

Russel Lolacher: This is a great sales pitch for us being better at employee interviews. So with leaders, we always do these performance reviews where it’s always talking to the employees about, well, did you get the thing done? What are the challenges to get the thing done? We never use it as an opportunity to ask the exact question, which you just did was, How can I help you along this journey? Check in three months later. Did I accomplish what we agreed that I would set out to help you with? How can I do better next time around? We don’t see this as an employee journey. We see this as one offs or let’s create a widget or let’s fix the service as opposed to exactly what you’re talking about, which is can I be better based on these conversations, not just about creation or production?

Paul O’Beirne: Well, it’s funny. We were working this week with a company and we’re designing a new sort of performance management system for them. And so they’re going to have,… 40 percent of this team is new, new, new managers, new leaders. So they, they need to learn some of the basics. So we’re teaching them how to have one on ones, and then they’re going to have quarterly check ins, right? But the one question they ask after they kind of review progress and roadblocks and stuff like that, what’s the one thing that I can do to support you in the next quarter? Just one thing. So sometimes just even building it into established practices can help change those things, you know,.

Russel Lolacher: And I, I think Paul, I can speak for both of us and say, listen, but then do something about it. Like it’s not just asking the quesiton.

Paul O’Beirne: Yeah yeah.. Well, you know there’s a whole set of approach where you say, okay, I asked a thing But then you go you send them a note afterwards you say thank you and you tell them what you’re going to do.

Russel Lolacher: And then do it and then, and then do it. And then the, and talk about the impact of doing it. IE…

Paul O’Beirne: Right.

Russel Lolacher: It was great. I had a great experience. Thank you again for this opportunity. Like it’s a conversation. It’s not a checked box.

Paul O’Beirne: It’s a conversation, right? Right. But like we say, I’m a new leader and I’m in this, I might be afraid you’re going to tell me that I’m the lousiest leader and stuff like that. So just even to step into that place of vulnerability, it’s, it’s, it’s a hard place. And that’s why new, new leaders and new managers, they need some sort of support. As they navigate these sort of turbulent waters,

Russel Lolacher: Well, how many stories have we heard, Paul, about bad employee experience, which include leadership experiences where they’re being vulnerable for the first time and they get that badly trained leader that either ignored them, diminished them, undervalued them. And then they carry that like it’s PTSD for the next 20 years because of that.

And they never want to be a leader. Why would I want to be a leader? If this is the environment that I’m in, or they’re not going to know to try or be better.

Paul O’Beirne: Well, there’s the fun exercise we do in exactly relation to that where we, we asked people to bring up a memory of. the worst leader to that or whatever. And you can actually, people create a visual memory that causes them to have an emotional reaction. Even 20 years later, I have a colleague of mine who we worked with. We both worked for a leader, but he, he had some challenges with that leader, even if he was to go by her building. He would have that emotional flashback.

Russel Lolacher: It’s trauma. It’s not just a bad day. It’s trauma.

Paul O’Beirne: You sometimes hear horror stories, but I really have a lot of empathy for people. And this is where I think companies, when you ask me who’s responsible, companies are many times irresponsible, they talk about these are our greatest assets. They have people who manage these greatest assets, who have no tools, no experience. And some of them might get by and there’s a lot of them if they don’t get by before the team leaves. It’s costly, Like Gallup’s Poll came out in September and sort of 70 percent of the employee engagement is based on the manager.

Russel Lolacher: And yet we won’t give them the tools they need.

Paul O’Beirne: It’s, it’s incredible. Like I’ve had conversations with company. Well, we don’t have money to invest in any of that. And they’ll have 20 percent turnover. They’ll have people going out the door. They’ve got an environment where the leaders are not ready to help the company scale, and yet they don’t see the prioritization.

Russel Lolacher: And yet they’re throwing money out the door of retraining, rehiring…

Paul O’Beirne: To throw money out the door! Like, exactly. It’s like a, it’s like a revolving door. We also help companies by integrating assessments, even into the hiring process to help them understand, is the individual’s behaviors and competencies and motivators aligned to the job? Because if they’re not, you get a mismatch, then the people are not going to stay either.

Russel Lolacher: So you’re, you’re part of this leadership ecosystem. You see new leaders coming into the organization. You’ve convinced them that this is a career change, that they need to be looking at things differently. Their skill sets. What is the support system look like? Is it mentorship? Is it professional development that’s a little bit more established? Like how do we set these new leaders up for success once they understand the shift?

Paul O’Beirne: But we, we have, our approach is kind of like, it’s sort of a three pronged approach. And the first is giving them some insights into their own leadership, right? The second is the capabilities that they need to do their job, right? And the third is when they come out, what is the support structures to reinforce and help them integrate that learning back into actually how they do their job, right? So, so there’s a couple of ways the manager is really important and has to be part of the sort of system of support, right? And, and so how does that manager support them through that? You can do things like one of the organizations work we have and peer partners. So I’m going through it and there’s another person going through it and we’re going to go and have this sort of shared experience where we’ll help each other go through it together. And then you can have what’s called sort of a cohort group where they get together and you might have five or six people who are going through it together. And they share experiences, and they talk about the challenges that they’re having, and they can bring it into a sort of a very open, confidential space where they can learn and develop together.

So they’re just a few different ways, and then you can have mentoring, especially if you need somebody who needs a particular level of skills or technical skills related to the particular role. And then we do one on one coaching when, especially when, we’re usually brought in when leaders are sort of scaling into a new role and they’re starting to struggle. Now some companies are very good and are proactive about it, but other companies wait until the person is struggling. Hey, so and so’s struggling. We need, we need to help him. And so there are some of the things. And having that sort of holistic approach is important.

Russel Lolacher: I love, said sarcastically that we want to teach people how to swim while they’re drowning. Makes no sense. So let’s, let’s leave on a high note, Paul. I’m kind of, I’m going to ask a personal question.

Paul O’Beirne: Okay.

Russel Lolacher: What’s some of the best advice you ever got starting your leadership journey?

Paul O’Beirne: The best advice I probably got was, trying to think, cause I was thrown into leadership at a very young age. I’m not sure I got the best advice at that time. Like I was 23 years and ended up as a production supervisor on the second shift with 33 people reporting to me and never having managed a person in my life. So that, so,… But, I had a great mentor who said to me that, look, it’s really important to understand first, than to be understood.

Russel Lolacher: Love that.

Paul O’Beirne: And so, so I think that was probably one of, and, and so he, I was the sort of junior production guy. He was my sort of senior and he said, look you don’t need to go out and try and tell them about all the things that you believe. Understand them first.

Russel Lolacher: Well, this might be a weird segue into the last question I ask all of my guests, but I think you may have answered it with that, but I’m curious to hear what you say. Paul, what’s one simple action people can do right now to improve relationships at work?

Paul O’Beirne: There’s two things. I think one is become more self aware, right? Of, of, of yourself, and then have curiosity in the people that work with you. And don’t assume that you know what they think or how they communicate or whatever, but remain curious so that you get to know them and you can build authentic relationships. And I think that will go a long way. You could actually do that tomorrow. Just sit down and have an authentic conversation. Russel, tell me a little bit about yourself. What excites you? What do you do well that you do best? What things do you love that you do best? It’s as easy sometimes as that.

Russel Lolacher: That is Paul O’Beirne. He’s a master facilitator, executive coach and the CEO and founder of Orca HR Solutions LLC. Thank you so much for being here, Paul. It’s been a lot of fun.

Paul O’Beirne: Thank you, Russel. It was great to engage.

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