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

Are You Making A Blizzard Out Of Nothing?

Cute little girl playing with snowAs I write this, I’m one of the many survivors of what was supposed to be a blizzard in my part of the state. Like my neighbors, I fretted about what was to be and finally put my butt in gear (and my car on the road) in order to ensure we had provisions in the house. Doing so, allowed me to rest easily knowing that we could survive long-term if we had to. Well, we did have a storm indeed, but not of epic proportions.

It’s funny how we always seem to anticipate the worst, and then find ourselves wondering why we allowed ourselves to get worked up over things that really weren’t all that bad. I see this a lot in management. Leaders failing to take action because they believe that the task on hand is much larger than it is. This is especially true when it comes to managing the performance of others. Managers simply choosing to ignore poor performance because they hope it will go away. It rarely does.

Earlier in the day, I facilitated a sold out webinar on How to Manage High Maintenance Employees. It seems high maintenance employees are becoming the norm in organizations. I believe this is so because their managers fail to call these people on their behavior when they first note that something isn’t right. Here’s what I told today’s participants, which I believe will be helpful for you. Most people don’t intentionally set out to be difficult at work, although at times you may think they do. Sometimes an honest conversation is all that is needed to bring these people back in the fold.

Think about this the next time you forecast an explosive conversation with someone, who possibly has no idea you are unhappy with his or her performance. Chances are, the blizzard you’ve conjured up in your mind is something that will turn out to be only a minor inconvenience.

Posted in Performance Management

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Employee Turnover And The Blame Game

businessman hiding face not my faultEmployee turnover is on the rise. Here’s some of the best excuses as to why this is so.  I call this the Blame Game.

  1. It was simply a bad batch of new hires – If only this were true. Could it be possible that something has changed in your organization? Have the needs of the organization changed but the hiring profile has stayed the same? Have you stopped holding managers accountable for their hiring decisions? Are you failing to provide interviewing training for newly promoted or hiring managers?
  2. The employees we hired were the best of the bunch – If that is truly the case, it’s time to begin thinking about ways to increase applicant flow so you have more choices. There are a number of things that can be done regardless of budget. The solution may be as simple as asking your employees for referrals. Or perhaps your needs require a more strategic approach.
  3. If they stay for a year we will have gotten our money’s worth – Would your stakeholders agree if they knew how much the company is losing whenever an employee walks out the door? Begin by quantifying the cost of replacing an employee when someone leaves your organization. You can do so by using my complimentary Employee Turnover Calculator. Do you still believe you have gotten your money’s worth?
  4. This is the best we can hire given our pay ranges – Granted, money is usually not the main reason employees leave their jobs. However, let’s be real. People want to be adequately compensated for their efforts. If employees are continually leaving your firm for more money, then it’s time to look at reallocating resources. You can probably survive if you don’t replace the three-year old copy machine in the mail room with a model that costs significantly more. Take the money saved and reallocate it to your merit budget.
  5. These are only entry-level positions, so who cares? Your customers care, so maybe you should as well. Companies spare no expenses when it comes to hiring their executives, yet so little is invested when hiring front line people like cashiers, bank tellers, and receptionists. Clients communicate with these people more often than with the CFO. In many cases, these employees are the only people customers interact with. Perhaps it’s time to rethink regarding the importance of your entry-level personnel.
  6. Our turnover has always been high – Congratulations for maintaining your position! Maybe it’s time to give someone else an opportunity to take home the award for high turnover. Right now you’ve got a bunch of employees in your organization who are thinking about leaving. If you want to keep these people, you must find the root causes of their dissatisfaction. The best way to do so is to ask employees why they are considering leaving. It’s no secret that employees will respond more honestly when this is done by an outside firm, so don’t even think about attempting this on your own.
  7. Even though employee turnover at our company is 40% we are still below the industry average – Would you be so accepting if this year’s revenues were down by 40%, even if it were a little better than the industry average? Of course not. You’d be bringing in teams of people to get you out of this tailspin. You can begin to pull yourself away from the pack by paying attention to factors, like employee fit and well-trained managers, which are key contributors to employee retention. Don’t know how to approach this? Learn how or ask a trusted advisor.
  8. If it doesn’t work out, we can always replace these people – Yes, but at what cost? Will your most valued clients hang around while you replace their main contact person for the third time this year? Do you have the resources to source for new candidates or have these people left as well? Consistency is key for most organizations and it’s impossible to retain if your workforce is in a constant state of change.
  9. We don’t have the staff to address this issue right now – You cannot afford to wait. You don’t have to go this alone. Bring in an expert who can design a strategy and implement a program that will help you prevent this situation from happening time and time again.
  10. It’s no big deal – If this were not a big deal, you wouldn’t have finished reading this article. This problem can be fixed if you are open to making changes. What do you have to lose?

It’s easy to place blame for employee turnover on all of these factors. However, this approach doesn’t position you well to win the game on customer satisfaction, employee retention, and increased profitability. It’s your move.


Posted in Employee Turnover, Leadership, Retention, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Talent Maximization, Thought Leadership

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Purposelful Hiring: How To Attract Millennials To Your Workplace

Purpose Green Road SignDeloitte just released its fourth annual Millennial Survey and the findings suggest what Millennials (and me) have known all along. Employers are barking up the wrong tree when it comes to hiring. That may very well explain why businesses are having an extremely difficult time attracting and hiring talent. Business leaders need to take a step back and reset the way they go about doing business if they are to acquire the talent needed to fuel business growth. Here’s what purposeful hiring looks like.

Focus On People and Purpose. Today’s workers (especially Millennials) want to be part of something bigger than profit making. Millennials want to work for organizations with purpose. For six in 10 Millennials, a “sense of purpose,” is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers. Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Global, sums this up best. “The message is clear: when looking at their career goals, today’s Millennials are just as interested in how a business develops its people and how it contributes to society as they are in its products and profits. He goes on to say,  “These findings should be viewed as a wake-up call to the business community.”

I’ve helped a number of organizations dramatically improve their ability to pull top talent in by making a few minor adjustments. We begin by identifying how the world is better as a result of their company being in business. We then take this information and look at ways to convey our message, both internally and externally, so that the organization is better able to attract and retain the right people. We then work with the hiring managers to ensure the conversations they are having with perspective employees accurately reflects the partnership we are attempting to achieve. The word partnership is important here, as today’s workers want to be viewed as a business partner and not just merely an employee who is easily replaceable.

Career Development-More Than a Training Program. I’m a huge fan of Millennials, as most are extremely bright. They recognize (as do I) that career development is so much more than a one-day training program. Those companies who move away from the one-size-fits-all career development models they are using will come out as winners.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a place for training, but it’s not the only option nor is it the best option all of the time. I  believe that career development is a two-way street. It’s not simply something you do to an employee. Employees must also participate and guide their own careers. In fact, they should be driving the bus on this. Don’t be afraid to provide development in some unconventional ways. For example, I  facilitate round-tables for groups of leaders who are in similar places in their careers. This kind of development demonstrates to the employee that the organization is very invested in the partnership and allows the employee to grow at his or her own pace.

Emphasizing what your organization is doing around career development will help you attract Millennials. If you don’t have anything to say about this, start making changes so your company is better aligned with the wants and needs of the today’s workforce.

Revisit The Type of Leaders You Are Promoting or Hiring. It’s no secret that people work for their bosses. It’s also one of the top reasons they accept a job offer and why they leave companies. This means that if you are going to be successful at hiring Millennials, you’ll need to know what they are seeking from their leaders. According to the Deloitte study, today’s Millennials place less value on visible (19 percent), well-networked (17 percent), and technically-skilled (17 percent) leaders. Instead, they define true leaders as strategic thinkers (39 percent), inspirational (37 percent), personable (34 percent) and visionary (31 percent). How do your leaders rank when it comes to what today’s candidates and employees are looking?

Take a closer look at your current approach to hiring. Most likely the questions and process you are using will no longer yield the results you are seeking. Especially if you believe like I do, that a large number of organizations don’t have the type of leaders in place that Millennials are seeking. I’ve designed and implemented enough programs on hiring to know that your hires are only as good as your hiring process and those responsible for making hiring decisions. Mis-hires happen more often then they should and can be quite costly. Here’s a free tool you can use to determine how costly this mistake can really be for your organization.

If you serious about staffing your organization with the best, then take the money you are using to create more perks at work and invest it in purposeful hiring. In return, you’ll have more time to focus on your products and profits.

Posted in Careers, Coaching, Creating Exceptional Work Places, Customer satisfaction, Employee Engagement, Hiring and Recruitment, Leadership, Management, Millennials, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Talent Maximization, Thought Leadership, Workplace

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The Real Truth About Employee Engagement

Disengaged EmployeeEvery company I know is working towards improving employee engagement, yet engagement is at an all time low. Why? Because employee engagement programs don’t work. You cannot buy your way into engagement, although many companies try. Nor can you bully people into getting on board the engagement train. Engagement must grow organically, from the inside out—One employee at a time. Here’s where to begin.

Hire happy people. We all know people, who quite frankly are miserable. No matter what happens, they still retain their victim mentality. Usually we wind up looking for ways to distance ourselves from them. Easier said than done, especially if they reside in our workplace. Even worse, if they live in a cubicle that is positioned next to ours.

A company cannot turn an unhappy person into a happy productive worker, unless they are willing to spend tons of time and money on therapy. And even in these situation, there are no guarantees. I remember being on the phone with a CEO who had to abruptly end our call. You see, he was running late for a therapy session with one of his employees. I kid you not. He actually thought he could save one of his employees by attending what turned out to be marriage counseling sessions. I suspect this relationship ended in divorce, although I don’t know this for sure.

Hire people who are willing to do the work. Everyone comes to the workplace with baggage. However, few are willing to throw the baggage overboard so they can travel lightly. I see tons of employees walking around with the weight of the world on their shoulders. Some are martyrs, while others simply haven’t found the locker storage room where they can temporarily or permanently unload their luggage.

Employee engagement comes from within. It happens when an employee is willing to take responsibility for how he or she shows up every day. This takes a willingness to look inside oneself and to be truthful. Something that seems difficult for many. For example, asking yourself if the job you spent years preparing for is really making you happy can be quite frightening. What if the answer is no and you still have years left to pay off your student loans? Or worse yet, what if you have to tell a loved one that you can no longer go to work every day pretending to be fully present at work?

Make it okay for your people to come to you for a reassignment. Clear the way so they can be with you because they want to be. Not because they have no other choice.

Begin engagement with action; not more surveys. Companies are spending billions conducting additional employee engagement surveys to hear what they already know. Do not send out another survey until you have taken action (or communicated to your people that you won’t be making changes) on every item that scored a “needs improvement.” Instead, funnel this money into fixing what needs to be repaired. Do this now.

Grow engagement from the bottom; not from the top. Right now, scores of executives and their teams are spending countless hours plotting on how to best engage those who are closest to the customer. Yet few bother to ask these people for suggestions on what can be done to increase employee commitment and productivity. Years ago, I spearheaded  the design and implementation of a Gain-Sharing program where employees at all levels of the organization were asked to participate and make recommendations for changes in the business that would lead to growth. They then shared in the financial gains that resulted for their ideas. Some of the best suggestions came from the least formally educated people in the organizations. These ideas were quickly embraced, since they came from the very people who were responsible for implementation.

People aren’t engaged by programs. They are engaged by people. Yes, it’s that simple. Now go out there and start working on becoming an inspirational leader and start connecting with your people.





Posted in Employee Engagement, Leadership, Management

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Matuson’s 15 Workplace Predictions For 2015

  1. Employee auctions will replace online recruiting. The highest bidder with the coolest office will win.
  2. Workplace violence will rise, as frustrated workers take matters into their own hands.
  3. Employees will flock to see Bad Bosses 2, while bad bosses watch reruns of Working Girl.
  4. Employees who’ve been sitting in the departure lounge will charter a direct flight to a more favorable destination.
  5. Wages will rise as employees exchange slave status for working wage status.
  6. Hoards of people will exchange W-2 status for IB Free Status (aka entrepreneurs).
  7. Employees will beg their employers to replace the daily snacks that are making them fat with healthier choices.
  8. Baby Boomers will find themselves in the minority for the first time in their lives and will learn to adapt or become extinct in the workplace.
  9. More people than ever will find themselves tossed into management roles before they are ready. Most will fail.
  10. Sales of slippers will outpace sneaker sales as more employees work from home.
  11. Cell phones will be collected and tossed in a safe on Fridays by the spouses of workaholic employees. Phones will be returned on Monday mornings.
  12. Mediocre employees will continue to rule the workplace while superstars look for new constellations.
  13. Employees will be required to attend more meetings to discuss how the company can eliminate wasted time spent in meetings.
  14. Employees will continue to provide upper management with feedback, and upper management will continue to ignore their employees.
  15. Employers will try to make amends with underpaid employees. These people will take the money and run.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts regarding my predictions. Feel free to post in the comment section.

Posted in General Observations, Hiring and Recruitment, Musings, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Talent Maximization, Thought Leadership

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New Year, New Start!

New Year celebrationIn just a few days the confetti will be gone and what will be left is a fresh New Year. This is a great time to take stock of what’s been going well in your life and what areas could use significant improvement. Take a few moments to acknowledge your accomplishments, which I’m sure are plenty. Then choose one or two things that you’d like to move forward. By doing so, you’ll avoid the common mistake of trying to take on more than is humanly possible and then being disappointed by your lack of results.

You’re off to a great start. However if you are like most people, you’ll need some help in the accountability department. Who can you count on to help make sure you stay  on track? A friend, co-worker, mentor or coach? It’s easy to make resolutions. It’s harder to keep them. It’s a heck of a lot easier when you have help. How do I know this? Because I have a mentor, coach and personal trainer to ensure that what I promise to do, actually gets done. How about you?

Not sure what you need? Download a complimentary bonus chapter from my book, Suddenly in Charge, on How to Work With a Coach or a Mentor. And remember, I’m here if you need me!

Posted in Career, Careers, Coaching, Leadership

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Free Executive Webinar: Seven Trends That Will Define Recruiting In 2015

Office chair Help Wanted Job Hiring IconsA lot has happened in the world of talent over the past year. Most notably, U.S. businesses ramped up hiring across the board in November, putting 2014 on pace to be the best year for job growth since 1999. That’s great news for the US economy and not-so-great news for those looking to pull in talent. I suspect many employers are patting themselves on the back thinking they have nothing to worry about if their turnover has been low. This false sense of security is exactly why their world will be turned upside down come January.

A record number of companies are announcing plans for considerable growth. Along with this will come new job opportunities, which means an even more competitive hiring market than the one you are experiencing.

Join me as I share the latest trends in recruiting as well as powerful techniques you can immediately use to move your hiring into warp speed. As a bonus, I’ll discuss low cost ways to re-engage workers who might be on the brink of leaving. This is one session you can’t afford to miss.

Details regarding the call-in information will be sent to those who register. All registrants for this session will receive a complimentary download within 24 hours of the teleseminar.

Can’t wait for the session to begin? I’m offering the first 10 people who ask, a complimentary 30 minute consultation on how to accelerate your ability to attract top talent that will stick around. Interested? E-mail me at and we’ll put a date on the calendar.

Click here to register!

Posted in Hiring and Recruitment, Talent Acquisition and Retention

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Go Bold Or Go Home

Be bold!

Be bold!

I’m writing this post for me as much as I’m writing it for you. I used to think I was a pretty bold person. I didn’t care all that much what people thought about me. However, lately I feel like I’ve been losing my edge. My “I don’t care” attitude seems to have shifted a bit to the left. It’s time for a course correction. Here’s why.

If I’m merely repeating what everyone is saying, then I’m no longer a person of interest. I’m just like everyone else. The thought of that frightens me more than the idea of offending someone. People are looking to me and to you because they are interested in our perspective. Having no opinion or a generic opinion is ten times worse than being wrong in your opinion. Say what you have to say and move on.

Beating around the bush is a time waster. I need to be more direct. Hard to believe considering I’m from NY. I used to be that way and then something happened. I began to soften my words. I need to get my chutzpah (that’s Yiddish for moxie) back, as that’s what attracted people to me in the first place. I’m not going to tip toe around things anymore. Nor should you. If I think you are about to make a huge mistake, I’m going to tell you and I’m not going to worry that what I’m about to say may offend you. I’m here to help my clients and you’re there to help your team. Let’s worry less about being liked and more about doing our jobs well.

Gatekeepers are there for a reason and usually it’s not to help people like you or me. I’m going to stop making nice to people who are preventing me from sharing my expertise with the world. Yes that’s right. If you are reading this and you are a gatekeeper, then please don’t take this personally. I understand you are doing your job. Now please understand I’m doing mine. It’s time to move beyond the gatekeepers in your organization who are preventing you from getting things done. Let’s move forward together.

What are you going to do to be more bold in your thinking? Or is your plan to simply go home?

Posted in Thought Leadership

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How To Stay Productive During The Holiday Season

Young woman in office jubilates at deskIt may seem like everyone is on vacation during the Christmas holidays but this simply isn’t true. In fact, this is the perfect time to get work done. Here are three things you can do to stay productive during the holiday season and all year long.

Tear up your to-do list. If you are like most people, your to-do list is never done. That’s because you know you always have tomorrow to complete these tasks. But what if this weren’t so? By that I mean, what if you had no choice but to complete these tasks because you had no place to park them? One of two things would happen. You’d either get the work done that day or you’d realize that not doing so would have little or no impact on the your work. In other words, you’d soon see that you were working on items that should have never made the list.

Move one thing forward a mile. In this day and age, it’s so common to multitask that we often find ourselves moving ten things forward an inch, rather than one thing forward a mile. Stop it! What’s the most important task you need to complete this week? That’s the item you should be working on. The rest can wait.

Delegate. It’s exhausting, not to mention inefficient to try to do everything yourself. Yet, most leaders continue to do so without realizing the impact their actions are having on others as well as themselves. You have a staff for a reason. Give them the tasks that are a bit of a stretch for them so they can learn and take the time you’ve just gotten back and do something more productive–Hit the mall and buy your staff a holiday present!

Posted in Creating Exceptional Work Places, Leadership, Productivity

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Are Your Practices Driving Your Customers Away?

No wayI’m in the middle of a major renovation and if you’ve ever been through one yourself, you know exactly how much time and energy is required in order to make it through the process. Yesterday’s experience rose to the top of bizarre practices and made me wonder how businesses exist in spite of their non-customer friendly practices.

Yesterday was go pick out your granite day. I’ve done this several times before so I had a pretty good sense of how the day would go. Nothing could prepare me for the reality. You see, everywhere we turned we hit a brick wall.

We were provided a granite allowance by our contractor.  In this situation, he told us we could choose any piece that was similar in price to the one that was called out in the specs. Seems like this would be simple, right? If only this were so. We asked the salesperson to tell us the price point so that we could see what other options were in our budget. Her reply, “I can’t tell you the prices. You’ll need to ask your fabricator.” Next call was to the contractor who in turn called the fabricator. Would you believe that the contractor was not even able to get a price for us? So we basically spent the day in a large warehouse picking out tons of slabs with the hope that one or two would fit our budget. What a waste of time. If I could have, I would have walked out of this place and never would have returned.

What practices might your company be operating with that are turning customers away? The loss of even one customer can make the difference between a great year and one that you hope you won’t repeat.

Ask those who are closest to the customer for their suggestions on how the organization might make themselves more customer friendly. Call up your customers and ask them what can be done to improve upon your product and services. Notice how I didn’t say survey. This is one of those situations where you need to know what your customers are thinking so you can take immediate action. Be sure you do something before another customer walks out the door and doesn’t return.

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Posted in Creating Exceptional Work Places, Customer satisfaction, Small Business Management, Word-of-Mouth

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