Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Creating Exceptional Workplaces and Extraordinary Results
Roberta Matuson's Blog

Should You Work With an Internal or External Coach?

Leaders often ask me if there are times when they should be working with an internal coach versus an external coach. My answer is, it depends. Ultimately, what are they hoping to achieve as a result of their work with this person. As you look to engage the help of a coach to boost your own performance as a leader, consider the following:

Are you looking to smooth out a little wrinkle or are you in need of more intensive help? An inside coach, who usually resides in HR, can be a great resource when you are looking to make slight modifications in your leadership style. Most are easily accessible and are more than willing to spend a few minutes with you. However, if you are in need of more intensive support, then you will want to find an external coach who can dedicate the necessary time needed to help you make a major shift in how you present yourself as a leader.

Confidentiality. How likely are you to openly share your fears, challenges you may be experiencing and what’s really on your mind, with an internal resource? HR people are trained to keep confidence. However, they are human and that doesn’t mean that what you tell them won’t be taken into consideration when discussions are taking place on topics such as promotions and succession planning. An external coach may be the way to go if you have any concerns that what you tell someone internally may come back to haunt you.

Access. It may seem easier to access an internal coach than an external coach, as the internal coach is right down the hall. However, most likely this person has other responsibilities other than coaching, so he or she may not be all the accessible to you. And they most certainly won’t make themselves available after the office is officially closed. When I coach people, I offer them unlimited access to me via phone, email or Skype. I do my best to get back to them within 90 minutes. If your internal resource can offer you the same kind of access, then you certainly may want to consider this when selecting a coach.

Experience. Are you looking for a coach who has been in your situation or are you merely seeking a sounding board? Keep in mind that it’s one thing to take advice about jumping out of a plane from someone who attended a class on parachuting. It’s another to take that leap with someone who has made many jumps him or herself. Many internal coaches have received formal training from coaching programs. However, this does not mean they’ve ever been in the C-suite nor have they held a job that is similar to yours. The advantage of using an external coach, is that you can search for someone who has the exact experience you are looking for, as there are a number of great coaches to choose from.

As the business environment becomes more complex, there will be more demand for coaches. If your company is a strong proponent of internal coaches and you are not comfortable with this idea or if there aren’t enough internal people to go around, consider hiring your own coach. The investment you make in your future will most certainly pay off.


Posted in Coaching

Leave a comment

The Dirty Truth About Training

Companies often dispense training as if it were a magic pill for whatever is ailing the organization. Send problem employees to a few classes and everything will be fine in the morning. If only this were true.

Here are some common reasons why training fails:

One bad apple

Think back to your days in elementary school. Remember when the teacher would scold the whole class because of one disruptive child? If that weren’t bad enough, she would then cancel recess.

The business world operates the same way. For example, rather than providing one-on-one coaching to a manager who lacks interpersonal skills, all leaders are forced to sit through a course that they probably could teach. So, why are we surprised when the behavior of the problem employee doesn’t change?

Training is not the right response for every problem in the organization. Sometimes you have to dig deeper and hit the problem head on.

Wrong format

We now have four generations in the workforce. Each generation approaches learning in a different way. While it might be easier for your director of training to deliver workshops over the Internet, this approach may not meet the needs of the very generation you are trying to reach.

Examine the population you are trying to train and adjust your approach to meet their needs, not yours.

Pushing rather than pulling

For training to be effective, workers must be the ones who are asking for it. If you push training on employees, they will resist.

Give employees choices and let them select training programs that will allow them to accelerate their growth. Of course, be prepared to help guide them through the selection process.

Failure to link training with day-to-day business

Most training is useless, unless you link it back to the task at hand or the organization’s strategic goals and everyday business. Follow up training with on-the-job coaching and support from management.

Most training is useless, unless you link it back to the task at hand or the organization’s strategic goals and everyday business. Follow up training with on-the-job coaching and support from management.

Lack of leadership commitment

We recently presented a workshop on Effectively Managing an Intergenerational Workforce. During the presentation, one of the participants kept shaking his head. We were concerned that his head would fall off and start rolling down the aisle. So we asked him why he was shaking his head so much. He chuckled and asked, “Why isn’t my boss here?”

This question must get asked at almost every training session. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have responded, “Because she attended a similar session this morning”? Workers are smart enough to know that if their bosses aren’t fully invested in the training then nothing will change.

If you are going to introduce a training program to your organization, make sure you have the support of senior management. Without it, you are wasting your time, not to mention the time of the participants attending training.

Before you start calling around to find a trainer for your organization, take a step back. Ask yourself the following:

  • Have I figured out the root of the problem or is what I am seeing only a symptom?
  • How will I know if the training worked? How will I measure the results?
  • Are the people I am sending to training capable or desirous of change?
  • Are we providing different ways of delivering the information to meet the needs of each generation of employees?
  • Is this training something employees really want or something I think they need?
  • What is the goal of the training and how will I link it back to the organization’s strategic mission and goals?
  • Is management fully committed to this initiative?

If you have gone through the process of thinking through all of these questions and you proceed, don’t be surprised if this time around you actually see results!

Like what you are reading? Sign up to receive our complimentary newsletter, The Talent Maximizer.

Posted in Leadership, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Training

Leave a comment

Selecting Top Producers: The Complete System for Hiring a Winning Sales Team

Musical chairsPeople ask me all the time for my trade secrets on how to hire top sales producers in a highly competitive talent market. Many of you have asked me to write a book on this topic and in all honesty, I didn’t think I had the bandwidth to make this so. But I finally decided to take some of my own advice and sit down and just do it.

I couldn’t be more excited to announce that I’ve put together an incredible resource for those of you who are looking to hire top sales people. And who isn’t these days? So here’s my special offer (and it’s not even up on my website yet.) The Selecting Top Producers workbook, which is jammed packed with everything you’ll need to hire top sales people, usually retails for $149.99. For a limited time only, you can order the PDF for $99. That’s over a 30 percent savings. Contact me at to grab your copy.

And if that weren’t enough, I’m also going to provide those of you who order a book with a 10% discount off of my On-Call Remote Coaching and Consulting Services. This way, you’ll have an expert to help you quickly implement your learnings.

It’s a tiny investment for huge results. Don’t delay. Everyday that goes by is revenue that you can never recover.

Questions? Call me at 617-608-3633.

Posted in Hiring and Recruitment, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Talent Maximization

Leave a comment

The Shocking Truth About Millennials

Explorer holding binocularsCompanies are spending a ton of money trying to figure out how to attract and engage the millennials, when all a long they’ve had the answers right in front of them. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review, written by Bruce Pfau, titled, What Do Millennials Really Want From Work, is quite revealing. According to Pfau, there is little in the way of empirical research to support this billion-dollar theory that millennials are all that unique.

“On the contrary, a growing body of evidence suggests that employees of all ages are much more alike than different in their attitudes and values at work. To the extent that any gaps do exist, they amount to small differences that have always existed between younger and older workers throughout history and have little to do with the Millennial Generation per se,” notes Pfau.

So what does this mean for businesses? That depends. Don’t change a thing if you are already doing the following:

Putting People First

Everyone talks about it. They say, “Our people are our most important asset.” That’s just a throw-away line for most companies. If this were really true, then how do you explain why so many companies lay people off the moment their stock shares start to slide? Wouldn’t they instead, look at how they can grow their revenues, while preserving human capital?

Focusing On Purpose

People are constantly making fun of the millennials’ search for purpose in their work. Usually those are the same people who are too lazy to find happiness or too risk adverse to try something new, when what they are doing isn’t working.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to my client, Catherine D’Amato, CEO of the Greater Boston Food Bank, talk about her path to becoming a food banker. D’Amato spoke about her executive team, who all came knocking on her door in pursuit of purpose. Not one of these people was a millennial. The lesson here is that purpose isn’t this new-age thing founded by the millennials. It’s something that is important to most workers.

Providing Regular Feedback

Everyone seems to think millennials are performance crazy, as we keep hearing stories about their constant need for feedback. Think back to when you first entered the workforce. You probably craved feedback, as did I. Most workers still desire feedback. The difference is that Gen Xers and Boomers have given up on this concept, since it hasn’t seemed to materialize. It’s the millennials’ turn to make some noise. Perhaps they will have better luck.

Developing Your People

Most people in the workplace want to improve their status. Yes, even those 50-something people you may have on your payroll. Improving one’s status doesn’t necessarily mean yearning for a promotion. Growing in place is important for many. Take a look at the career development opportunities you are providing for your people. Are most, if not all, tailored for millennials? If so, think about how to to change this so that everyone benefits.

And for those of you who aren’t quite measuring up (and you know who you are), take time to reflect as to why this is so. Then pick one or two areas to focus on and move them forward a mile, rather than trying to move everything forward an inch.

Let’s stop talking about how different millennials are in your workplace. These generalizations are false and are distracting employers from the real work that needs to be done—creating organizations where all employees love to come to work and where customers love to do business.

© 2016 Matuson Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Creating Exceptional Work Places, Employee Engagement, Hiring and Recruitment, Millennials, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Talent Maximization

1 Comment

HubSpot: Truth or Fiction

Disrupted-coverBy now, you’ve probably heard about the new book, Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-up Bubble, written by former HubSpot employee Dan Lyons. Fortune Magazine just posted a piece titled My First Year in Start-Up Hell that would make any CEO weep.

There are two sides to every story and somewhere in between lies the truth. But even if a quarter of the things that Lyons writes is true, there is certainly tons of room for improvement at HubSpot.

I’ve tried connecting with the CEO Brian Hannigan through some of my contacts to see if I could be of service to him, but apparently he is being well guarded by those who think this too shall pass. So Brian, if you are reading this and you are interested in speaking to me regarding how you can re-write your half of the story, let me know. I’m here for you!

And for the rest of you CEOs reading this post, now’s the time to make sure your company isn’t the next business written about in the “I hate my job” genre that seems to be gaining popularity. As you’ve probably figured out by now. If it’s written about on the Internet, then it must be true! Let’s make sure the right version of the truth is being told.

Posted in Books, Leadership, Management, Talent Acquisition and Retention

Leave a comment

Front Line Talent Matters



Lots of companies don’t pay enough attention to the people they are hiring to interact with their customers. Thankfully Pret a Manger does. Last week I made a quick stop at their downtown location to grab a cup of coffee. I quickly ran off to use the restroom, while the barista was making my coffee. Imagine my surprise when I returned and he handed me my coffee, along with the $17 worth of change that he had waiting for me. (Did I mention that I was in need of caffeine?) This gentleman could have easily pocketed the change, but he didn’t. I thanked him profusely and while doing so, he told me the next coffee was on him.

I immediately sought out the manager and took down the information so that I could let the corporate office know that this guy was a superstar. Would I be saying the same thing, if this guy worked for you? Your front line people matter. Well, at least they do to me. No doubt I’ll be making this a regular stop on my way to visit my downtown clients.

Posted in Customer satisfaction, Employee Engagement, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Talent Maximization

Leave a comment

If Not Now, When?



Last night, my husband and I were on the phone with American Express trying to score theater tickets for our daughter’s sweet 16 weekend in New York City. She had her heart set on seeing the show Wicked, which my husband and I had already seen. We were excited that we were able to secure tickets for Easter weekend. That was until the agent told us how much the tickets would cost. The total was just under a grand for four tickets. Gulp! We had her look around for less expensive tickets and then realized, if not now, when? After all, this was her sweet 16. We grabbed the tickets. Soon thereafter, I received notice from a friend on Facebook who announced his cancer diagnosis. It was at that very moment that I knew we had made the right decision.

Too many people deny themselves opportunities because they think these opportunities will be there tomorrow. They may very well be. However, we may not. If you want to make the most of your career or your business, then do it today. Here are some ideas that I often share with my clients, who are looking to move forward.

Stop shopping around for the best deal. Sure, someone may come in with a lower bid. But at what cost? How much time and effort have you spent trying to save a few bucks?

Consider the opportunity costs. Every day that goes by is a missed opportunity. Think about this before you delay.

Trust your gut. If your gut tells you that you need outside help to move forward more rapidly then listen to your gut. Sometimes we ourselves are our biggest obstacles. Make it a point to get out of your own way.

Surround yourself with the right people. Take a closer look at who you are hanging around with. Are these people telling you daily that you should be happy with what you have? Are they satisfied with being mediocre when you want more out of life than mediocrity? Time to get some new friends.

Leap! Stop being the guy or gal who is risk adverse. Take a chance. Make a leap and go for it!

We only go around once and some of us only make it half way around. The next time you are faced with a decision that usually makes you pause, do something different. Say yes and enjoy the experience of what it’s like to live life to it’s fullest.

Sign up to receive my complimentary newsletter, The Talent Maximizer®.

Posted in Coaching, Leadership

Leave a comment

4 Things to Think About As You Prepare For the Weekend



If you are one of the many who can’t wait to get the heck out of the office and start enjoying your weekend, then you’ll want to read this.

  1. Why are you still in a job that you no longer feel fulfilled in? You can no longer use the economy as an excuse. No, it’s something else. Figure out what that is (or get some help figuring it out) so that you are no longer working for the weekend.
  2. Did you have hopes and dreams that someone along the way (like your parents) changed for you? For example, did you grow up believing you’d like to be a cowboy and your dad convinced you to exchange your chaps for a pair of Dockers? You’re a big boy now and you no longer have to listen to dad saying, “Because I said so.” Now is the time to re-examine your choices and make course corrections. Do it this weekend.
  3. How can I bring more joy to my work life? Maybe it’s not what you are doing for a living but how you are doing it. The corporate world doesn’t work for everyone. If it did, we’d have no start-ups to go work for. Give some consideration as to what is working at work and what isn’t. Then get ready to add some joy to your work.
  4. How can I better balance my life? Does your life feel out of control? Are you trying to figure out how to complete your work project while at the same time help your daughter complete her science project? Just say no. That’s right. Tell your boss you are unable to take on additional projects at work or if you prefer, tell you daughter that this is her project and not yours. Whatever you do, just say no!

Need help, finding bliss in your life again? Contact me at Sign up to subscribe to my monthly newsletter, The Talent Maximizer®

Posted in Careers, Employee Engagement, Worklife Balance

Leave a comment

Guest Post: Empower Your Talent and Grow Your Business

If you’ve invested significant time and money into finding and hiring the right talent, the question that remains is whether or not you are getting as much out of them as you could be. After all, if you are unable to achieve the levels of performance from an employee that you expect, then any investments you’ve made in searching for, interviewing, hiring, or training is sunk.

In my experience, unfortunately, this isn’t a puzzle that most companies have been able to crack. For those that are serious about finding top talent, the stakes are even higher. Yet once hired we often place employees into an environment and hierarchy that has been in place for decades, one that does little to empower employees to take action on their ideas or collaborate with fellow employees.

What’s my point? Well, I’ll share with you that after nearly two decades working in six different industries for eight companies, I realized that our ability to truly capitalize on our investment in employees doesn’t appear to be a priority for most. Finding talent is important, but what we do with them once we have them is about as archaic and predictable as the moldy cheese.

Here’s the key. If you want to actually obtain a return on your investment in employees, you have to make a further investment in creating an environment that empowers employees to apply their skills and expertise. Put another way, we can’t expect to tap into the high priced and highly skilled talents of today’s workforce by placing them in a working environment that hasn’t changed since before the industrial age. Organizational silos; multiple layers of management; conflicting departmental objectives. These are the remnants of how the industrial age was built; yet our employees, our customers, heck even our suppliers are more advanced then they were fifty years ago, aren’t they?

Of course I’m not suggesting you can wave a magic wand and change your working environment to support employee empowerment, in fact the topic is so complex that it took me over 60,000 words to fully explain how to create this environment in my new book from McGraw Hill, entitled, Operational Empowerment: Collaborate, Innovate and Engage to Beat the Competition. Fortunately there are some simple initial changes you can make that will put you on the path to empowering your employees and capitalizing on your investment.

  1. Solicit feedback: The skill set and education of today’s employees is higher than any other time in history. How are you tapping into this? Do you solicit feedback from employees as to how improvements or changes should be made in the business? If you do, are you quickly taking action on these ideas?
  1. Nurture collaboration: It’s true that two minds are better than one, so three or four must be exponentially more powerful. True maybe, but it’s not as simple as just sticking people in a room. To build collaboration we must focus on creating more synergies across departments, and the easiest way I know to do this is to create cross-functional teams. After all, who says that customer service can’t sit next to accounts receivable? Cross-functional teams build experience and allow employees to make better, more educated decisions. How are you breaking down the silos in your organization?
  1. Facilitative leadership: Now this is a topic that I could write another book on, but the key is this: In today’s world of team based collaboration and learning, having leaders that are directive (i.e. tell the employee what to do) versus facilitative (help them employees to do what they agree they’d like to do) will kill collaboration and morale. The most successful leaders, those that can tap into the collective power and wisdom of your employees, are those that facilitate the needs of the teams and the employees within them. Are your leaders directive or facilitative?

So what do you think? Are you tapping into the talent you’re investing a significant amount of time and money in attracting? Consider the three ideas above as they pertain to your team or business; better yet get your copy of my new book, Operational Empowerment: Collaborate, Innovate and Engage to Beat the Competition here, and learn about how to make a significant shift in your business.

© Shawn Casemore 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Hiring and Recruitment, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Talent Maximization

Leave a comment

Five Critical Factors for A Flourishing Retail Business

Supermarket employeeHere are five critical factors for a flourishing retail business. The customer experience matters more than you think. How does your business rate?

  1. The customer’s experience with the employee is directly related to the employee’s experience with his or her manager.
  2. Too much money is being spent on low talent and not enough on high talent.
  3. A grocery store’s ability to compete is based on their brand. A brand is nothing more than a promise. What if your employees can’t keep your promise?
  4. Senior leaders look at employees as cost centers, when in fact they should be looking at them as profit centers.
  5. Some stores perform significantly better than others, yet their best practices aren’t being tapped and applied throughout the company.

Which factor do you do really well with and which one, if you could improve, would really have an impact on the organization?

Posted in Customer satisfaction, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Management, Profitability

Leave a comment