Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Creating Exceptional Workplaces and Extraordinary Results
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Short-term Strategies to Win the War on Talent

Close your eyes and try to visualize what your workplace will look like in the not so distant future. If you envision a sea of cubicles filled with motivated employees, you are in for a huge awakening!

Here’s the reality: We now have a record number of job openings in the U.S. The number is 5.4 million and unemployment is at a record low.

Talent acquisition and retention is hindering the growth of top-notch organizations, and will continue to do so, particularly those that enter this war without a battle plan. Here are some short-term strategies to win the war on talent. Ready, Aim, Fire!

Acceptance versus Denial

It’s easy to keep your head in the clouds particularly when you are sitting high up in the organization. Every now and then you wander from your suite to ask HR why it’s taking so darn long to fill these critical positions. You yell a few choice words, remind them you expect results not excuses and safely return to your bunker.

Many executives are still in the denial stage. They believe this labor shortage thing is nothing but media hype. They also believe their organizations are superior and that everyone will want to come and work for them. If this was truly the case, their companies would be fully staffed and there would be a line of candidates waiting to get in.

Executives are trained to think in terms of long-term strategy. But for many the war has begun and action must take place now if you hope to get out of this alive. Here are some short-term approaches to help you survive, while you formulate your long-term battle plans:

Fire non-producers

Firing people when you can’t even get people to replace them may sound counter-intuitive. The truth is that most people want to be on a winning team. Your employees know who the performers are, even if you don’t. If you keep non-performers, you run the risk of losing your star employees who will tire of picking up the slack. As soon as a better offer comes along they will not hesitate to jump ship.

Start with your HR team. To win this war you will need seasoned recruiters who have experience in the trenches. This is certainly not the time to grow your team of inexperienced recruiters. You need bench strength and you need it now! Fire anyone who’s not up for the task and bring in the heavy artillery.

Stop buying people “on sale”

Executives and managers often boast about how cheaply they got this guy or gal. After all, their new hires were unemployed baby boomers with few employment options. They’ll invest a ton of money over the next six months training these people in the ways of their organization only to be surprised when they leave for a better offer.

This is a strategy that will not have a good ending. Pay people based on the value they can bring to the organization and you won’t have to worry about competing with others to find replacements.

Develop your employment brand

Shift some of that money earmarked for marketing your new and improved product or service and invest it in your employment brand. An employment brand is the organization’s value proposition as an employer. It’s much more than just a slogan or a mission statement. It gives perspective employees a window into what it’s like to work in or for a particular company.

An employment brand must consist of these three elements:

  1. It must be genuine. Sure, we’d all like to be the known as a fun place to work like Google, but not every company is there just yet. Job seekers will easily see through employment brands that are just slick advertising campaigns.
  2. It must be relevant. It’s great that your company is known as a learning organization and that you provide financial support to regular employees who want to advance their education. But if 50% of your workforce is seasonal help, who will never be eligible for these benefits, then this information is not particularly relevant to the group of employees you are trying to attract.
  3. The brand must be memorable. At first glance it might sound easier to find someone with a similar brand and make a few tweaks here and there. Every company is unique and you simply can’t take someone else’s brand and make it your own unless you think your company is generic, in which case you shouldn’t bother to have an employment brand.

Use your web site as a weapon

Companies invest thousands of dollars on making their web sites attractive to potential customers. Yet, many of these sites make it difficult if not impossible for potential employees to apply for a position through their company’s web site. If you are not posting your job openings on your site or if you are not keeping your posting list up to date then you are missing one of the few free tools you have to access talent.

Today’s busy candidates want to be able to apply for work online. If you fail to provide them with this ability to do so they may very well go work for the enemy (also known as your competitor) who makes applying for work easy.

More and more job seekers are skipping the big boards and are using spider sites like www.simplyhired and These sites troll the web for job postings on all sites. If you’ve posted a job on your web site, which by the way costs you little or nothing, your job will come up when job seekers search for a similar position in your geographic area. Isn’t life grand? But job seekers won’t find you if you don’t take the initial step of posting on your site.

PR is your friend

Many companies have some great programs for their employees, yet no one knows about them. You don’t have to have a six-figure budget to get PR. Create your own buzz. A number of local organizations have their own awards for employers of choice. Find out whose running what competition and begin to apply for the awards. If your employees are involved in community action, call your local newspaper and let them know about an upcoming event. Be sure to get them to include the URL to your web site in the article they write when they feature your company.

Watch your back end

Being successful at bringing people into the organization takes a lot of resources. Be sure these resources aren’t being wasted. Don’t let poor management impact employee retention.

It’s great if you can easily hire people now that you’ve applied several of the tactics listed above. Keep in mind you will be in a much stronger position to fight this war if you and your troops are not spending countless hours back filling positions.

It’s safe to come out of your bunker now and lead your troops to victory.

© 2015, Matuson Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

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

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Managing Isn’t Just For Bosses – Here’s Why You Need to Strengthen That Skill, Too

Portrait of a cool elegant beautiful businesswoman.If you think your work should speak for itself, why are so many famous artists unknown until their death? If you want to be known in this lifetime as a master at your craft, you’ll need to learn how to manage up. You’re probably good at letting others know how great your people are or how wonderful your company is to work for. But now’s the time to bump it up a notch and do some work on you.

Every manager, including the CEO, wants to be managed. This became quite evident to me when I was facilitating an executive retreat. The CEO kept telling his people what he needed and most of the people in the room couldn’t process what he was saying until I intervened. I said, “If you take away only one thing from our session, let it be that the CEO has told you that he wants to be managed. Now go manage him!”

Managing up isn’t about brown-nosing, nor is it about becoming the boss’s favorite. It’s about learning how to work within the confines of an organization to get what you need while helping your boss and the organization meet their objectives. It’s about using influence and acting with integrity and purpose. It may seem unnatural to manage those above you in business. But mastering this skill is exactly what you need to do to excel in any organization.

Managing up is a skill that can be developed through practice. It’s a skill that has to be fine tuned on a daily basis. It’s a skill to learn if you’re at all interested in thriving in the world of work. Here’s some advice on how to manage up.

Be authentic

One of the keys to managing up is to not make it apparent you’re doing so. The only way to do this is to be authentic. If a recommendation doesn’t feel right for you, tweak it until it feels like something you can wear daily. Challenge yourself to improve every day and before you know it, you’ll be effortlessly managing up.

Master the game of office politics

Office politics is one game that’s played in every organization. Before you begin writing your letter of resignation, it’s important to understand that politics isn’t just about manipulation. It’s about using power effectively. Have you ever noticed that the people who get promoted usually aren’t the smartest people in the company? They’re the ones who have strong relationships throughout the organization. They have power.

Power is the ability to get things done through other people. They understand the unwritten rules of the workplace, which allows them to quietly maneuver through the organization to obtain scarce resources, get approval of prized projects and receive salary increases, even when salary freezes are in place. Once you learn these unwritten rules, you too will be able to propel your career forward.

Begin by being observant, listening closely and watching the way people who seem to always get what they ask for interact with their bosses and those at the top. When you understand the behavior in your own organization, you’ll be better equipped to create and execute the game plan you’ll need to succeed. You may not like what you see. If that’s the case, you’ll need to determine if the organization is one you can remain with for years to come.

Toot your own horn, so you can be heard in a sea of cubicles

It’s almost impossible to get noticed in today’s workplace, especially when your job is to make sure others are recognized and rewarded for their efforts. There’s a reason why, on every flight, the flight attendant tells the passengers that in the event of loss of cabin pressure, you must put your own oxygen mask on first.

You can’t help others if you’re no longer in a position of power or worse, no longer in the company’s employ. Given the constant changes in corporate life — buyouts, downsizing, bankruptcies — you must excel at keeping more than just your boss informed of your successes, as there’s no guarantee your boss will be there tomorrow. This isn’t so easy in today’s world of texts, emails and voicemails all fighting for attention. Not to mention the plethora of meetings your boss is attending. That’s why your sound needs to be memorable.

I recently took a group of leaders through my Tooting Your Own Horn exercise. I asked everyone to share something exciting about themselves most people didn’t know. The results were amazing. People stood proudly and talked about skills they’d mastered and awards they’d received, including Olympic medals.

Are you your organization’s best kept secret and if so, what are you going to do about that? Casually weave notable stories into your everyday conversations. Don’t have any stories? Vow to make today the day you do something that’s worthy of being noticed. Become a person of interest so you have something to strategically brag about. The ability to effectively develop strong relationships with those next to you and above you is a skill that’ll not only allow you to have a seat at the table, but also to be heard.

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Posted in Managing Up, Suddenly In Charge

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5 Tips for a Productive and Profitable Year

IdeaHow profitable will your business be this year? It all depends on what you are willing to do to make it so. Begin with this:

1. Focus on employee retention. If you do only one thing different this year, it should be this. Companies are wasting millions of dollars every year on talent acquisition, when instead they should be focusing on the retention of their top people. In conducting research for my book, Talent Magnetism, I interviewed dozens of magnetic CEOs and executives who shared their proven strategies for engaging the minds and the hearts of their employees.

What they all had in common was their never-ending commitment to employee satisfaction. Notice how I didn’t say customer satisfaction. That’s because they know that it’s impossible to have high levels of customer satisfaction, and therefore repeat business, with a workforce that is even slightly disengaged.

Here’s what I mean by this. I experience happiness every time I stay at a Kimpton Hotel. Everyone at the hotel treats me like I’m a royal guest. I’m given the keys to the minibar and never receive a bill. I’m upgraded (at least it feels that way to me) to a room that’s larger than many suites that I’ve had at other hotels. I’m truly welcomed. I asked the former President and COO Niki Leondakis of Kimpton Hotels why I’m treated better at a Kimpton, than anywhere else. Here’s what she said. “Without employees, a hotel is nothing more than a building with rooms”. She went on to explain how Kimpton has very low employee turnover. “We hire great people and we trust they will do the right things when it comes to taking care of our customers.” Kimpton employees feel good about their work and the way they are treated. Can you say the same about your employees?

2. Pay for results. If your HR team has convinced you that it would be unfair to give a high performer a raise because they’ve only been with your firm for several months or they’ve told you that for legal reasons, it’s best to wait until everyone is reviewed prior to rewarding a particular group of people, then it’s time to fire your team.

Companies spend so much time covering their butts, that they often forget why they have these policies in place. Last time I checked, it was to reward specific performance. However, over the years it’s become more and more apparent that most reward systems aren’t working.

Dare to be different. Reward those who are doing a great job and let the others quit or show them the door yourself. Doing so will make room for you to hire those who are much more productive.

3. Trust your people. Everyday I see examples of company’s that don’t trust their people to do the right thing. They’ve buried these people in so many layers that it may very well be the spring of 2020 before we ever see or hear from them again.

It’s been about a month now since my husband and I made our first call to Sears regarding a warrantied item. I won’t bore you with the details, but what I can tell you is that we’ve had parts shipped to our house twice and three service calls of about two hours a piece to repair a dehumidifier that retails for $199. Seriously folks, wouldn’t it have been less expensive and better for the customer if Sears had simply replaced the machine? I’d like to tell you this story has a happy ending, but last we heard, our “dedicated customer service rep” Justin, was somewhere in the bowels of the organization researching a part that is no longer made, and we are still without a dehumidifier.

4. Shed the excess weight. I’m not talking about the extra layer that may be hanging around your waistline, although it’s probably a good idea to vow to get healthier this year. I’m specifically talking about the people in your organization who should have been let go a long time ago.

Here’s an example that may be near and dear to many of you. I was at a gala event in Atlanta where I was talking with Subway Founder, Fred DeLuca, when another CEO joined our conversation. This CEO was proudly sharing with us how low employee turnover was in his company. He then confessed that there happened to be one area where this was not so. He followed up by saying that he knew the problem was the manager and that eventually he had to do something about it.

Let’s make today the day that you deal with matters that are weighing down your organization. You don’t have to go it alone. Feel free to call me for a lifeline.

5. Go after the best; leave the rest. There is no reason that you can’t have a top-notch team. I’m guessing most of you know who the top performers are in your industry. Now is the time to start building a relationship with these people so that you can eventually get them to consider switching teams. Now before you tell me this is unethical, I would ask you to consider the following. If their employer was doing such a hot job of focusing on employee retention, these people wouldn’t even consider talking to you. Which brings me back to point number one.

We are more than half way through the year. How it ends will depend on what you do today.

© 2015 Matuson Consulting LLC. All rights reserved.

Roberta Chinsky Matuson, who is known globally as The Talent Maximizer®, is the President of Matuson Consulting ( and author of, Talent Magnetism (Nicholas Brealey, 2013), Selecting for Success: The Complete Guide to Hiring Top Talent, and Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, a Washington Post Top-5 Leadership pick. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta’s monthly newsletter, Talent Maximizer.

Posted in Productivity, Profitability

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The Truth Doesn’t Hurt: It Actually Helps

Telling liesI’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line we were taught that telling the truth can be hurtful. Of course there are times when this is true, but in most cases it’s not. Here’s what I mean by this.

I sure as heck wish my former boss would have told me exactly what he was thinking so that I had a chance to improve, before he decided that I needed to go. But alas, he chose not to and as a result I have no idea how I went from Difference Maker of the Year to someone who was discarded. If only he had told me the truth. I could have changed how things ended or at a minimum, I would have learned from my mistakes.

I coach a lot of leaders who have a difficult time giving their employees honest feedback. That is, until I remind them that it’s better to be respected, than loved. Most then make the necessary shift to be what they intended to be. A thoughtful leader who cares enough about his people to tell them the truth. Can you say the same?

Follow me on Twitter @matuson. Sign up to receive my monthly newsletter, The Talent Maximizer.


Posted in Management, Performance Management

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The State of Uncertainty

IMG_7704I used to be able to answer the question of whether I was coming or going with absolute certainly. These days, the answer depends on our giant to-do list of items needed to be completed, prior to moving into our new home. The list is supposed to be decreasing, but most days it seem to be increasing.

So far I’ve called my moving company three times to arrange three different dates to move over a three week time period. My WSJ is now being delivered to my new place, even though I’m not there. My kids have said goodbye to their old school and cannot say hello to their new school until we are in our new home. We are living neither here nor there. We are living in a state of uncertainty.

The state of uncertainty is a a state where employees often reside. They have no idea if they are coming or going. Their boss doesn’t tell them much, so they have to fill in the blanks on their own. It’s a horrible way to live.

Are you the reason your employees are feeling stressed out and may be thinking of leaving? I now have a few spots available in my coaching programs. Luckily, location doesn’t matter, as I’m neither here nor there these days, but I’m available via SKYPE, everywhere!

Posted in Coaching, Retention

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Why Being a Best-Kept Secret Isn’t Great for Business or Hiring

Surprised young man wearing a pith helmet and holding binoculars, isolated on white

My husband and I were just let in on a secret that very few know about. There is a coffee shop in our town that is now serving a four-course dinner, once a month, and the food is to die for. So you are probably thinking, what’s wrong with that? The problem is that only half the tables had paying customers, which leads me to believe this model is not sustainable, as you can’t run a business for very long when you are merely breaking even. You have to get the word out in a big way.

I see the same thing happen with companies that are far superior to many of the so-called “Best Places to Work” organizations. They are top employers, yet no one knows about them. When it comes to attracting candidates, reputation matters. If you are great, shout it from the rooftops or at a minimum, list on your website, the reasons your company is worth further consideration, so that you are no longer a best-kept secret.

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Posted in Hiring and Recruitment, Talent Acquisition and Retention

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The Perfect Employee

Looking for jobThe perfect employee doesn’t exist. Yet companies everyday are searching for what many are calling the perfect candidate. The ones that fare the best are those who hire Mr. or Ms. Perfect for right now. They hire the people who fit their needs today, rather than those who may grow into jobs that may very well never exist. They understand that the employee/employer relationship is fluid and that one day, the employee will depart. They treasure the relationship while it exists and wish one another well when it ends.

Are you in search of perfection? Would you be better served if instead, you brought your search back down to reality?

For a limited time only, take 86% off the price of the the Kindle edition of Suddenly in Charge! Download today.

Posted in Hiring and Recruitment, Talent Acquisition and Retention

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How to Dramatically Accelerate Your Hiring Processes

Has this ever happened to you? After months of begging your boss to let you add another person to your staff he finally agrees. You know you need to get this position filled before he has a chance to change his mind. No problem. The economy is still shaky. Still more candidates than positions.

You spend the first week putting 110% of your energy into your recruitment efforts. You post your job on recruitment websites, notify some long lost recruiters of your needs and tell a few friends about this great job opportunity. By week three, the resumes are pouring in. If only you had time to examine them. Note to self–take resumes home over the weekend to review. The weekend turns out to be perfect  weather. You give yourself permission to join some friends on a weekend bike excursion. You’ll get to those resumes next week.

Next week turns into two weeks. You ask yourself, “Gosh darn, why is my voice mail always full? Why won’t these recruiters stop leaving me messages? And why the heck does my boss keep piling projects on my desk? Does he really think I have the staff to do all of this?”

After weeding through the pile of resumes, you contact candidates who fit the bill. By the time you reach them, half are no longer available. You schedule the remaining applicants for interviews.

The perfect candidate has been found. You will call her references this week and extend an offer sometime next week. You finally call the candidate to offer her the job only to find out she accepted another position last week.

Back to square one. You ask yourself, “What could possibly have gone wrong?”

Lots. Here is some advice to help avoid another head on collision.

Standing still is not an option-Good candidates go fast, even in a down economy. While you are carefully maneuvering through the selection process, other hiring managers are passing you in the right lane. When it comes to recruiting, step on the accelerator, not the brake.

Stay focused-The only piece of the recruitment process you can control is yourself. Set your course and go full speed ahead.

Build relationships before you need them-Recruiting is a relationship business. Find a handful of third-party recruitment firms that you trust and build the relationship.

Return calls promptly-This will prevent your voicemail from overflowing. Not to mention, it is just good manners.

Every now and then, hiring managers need to make executive decisions. Give yourself permission to make this a priority. Put other work on the backburner and focus on the task at hand. After all, summer  is right around the corner and you certainly don’t want to be stuck in the office, behind piles of work, while everyone else is on the beach.

Only 3 days left to sign up for my free teleconference on Ten Ways to Hire Top Talent in Under Forty-Five Minutes. Register Now!

Posted in Hiring and Recruitment, Talent Acquisition and Retention

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Free Teleseminar! Ten Ways to Hire Top Talent in Under Forty-Five Minutes

Musical chairsFree Teleseminar-Ten Ways to Hire Top Talent in Under Forty-Five Minutes

In 10 days or less, I’m going to be offering a free teleconference on Ten Ways to Hire Top Talent in Under Forty-Five Minutes. Why the short notice? Because I want to show you that time isn’t your enemy—Inertia is. Join me for this free 45-minute teleconference, which will be jammed packed with ideas and tips you can use to get the right people in the door now!


You’ll learn:

Timeless tips for talent acquisition
How to identify and quickly remove barriers that are preventing talent from reaching you
What today’s talent is really seeking (Note: It’s not what you think.)
How to prevent others from poaching your people
Why talent magnetism trumps recruitment every time

Register Now!

Posted in Talent Acquisition and Retention

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How To Avoid Winding Up On “The Hit” List

exhaustedIn some industries, like film and music, ending up on the “hit list” is a good thing. Fame and fortune are bound to follow. Unfortunately, winding up on the “hit list” as a manager is an entirely different story.

In the movie, “Horrible Bosses,” three friends devise a plan to rid themselves of their bosses. This idea seems to resonate with many, as the film had a strong showing at the box office. Here’s why.

Bad bosses are all around, which means there is a shortage of role models for those interested in becoming a boss that others admire. Don’t despair. There are ways to make it into the Good Boss Hall of Fame on your own. Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way.

Get a life-Bosses who have nothing better to do than work assume that everyone around them is in the same position. If you take the time to get to know your people, you will see that most have a life (or at least they are trying to have a life) outside of work. Good bosses assign work with realistic deadlines. They then get out of the way and allow employees to manage their time.

Hold people accountable-Despite what you may think, the best bosses aren’t the ones who let people get away with murder. They are the ones who hold everyone to the same standard. Good bosses provide ongoing positive feedback. They also provide immediate guidance when workers appear to be going off track.

Be consistent-Bad bosses get their reputation for being psycho because of erratic behavior. One day they are the kind to those around them and the next day their evil twin takes over. Employees who work for inconsistent bosses, waste time and energy coming up with contingency plans in case the evil twin wins out that day. A good boss is even tempered. His people have a pretty good idea of which personality will be showing up on any given day.

Establish a harassment free environment-It should be a no brainer that the boss doesn’t hit on an employee, but sadly this is not a lesson that everyone has learned. Sexual harassment isn’t about sex. It’s about power. Leaders who inspire others to follow are more powerful than those who manage through fear. Set the example. Now matter how tempted you might be, don’t mix business with pleasure.

Control your anger-Being a boss in these tumultuous economic times is stressful. But that doesn’t give you the right to run around the office screaming at everyone. Learn to manage your stress. You can do this on your own or if need be, seek professional help. Good bosses are known to keep their cool, especially when the heat rises in the organization.

Be generous-Good bosses are generous with their time and do their best to reward those who have proven they are worthy of more. Budgets may be tight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find non-monetary ways to show your gratitude. You can do this by accommodating scheduling requests, allowing valued employees to home office several days a week or by acknowledging employees in front of valued customers when they do something right.

Be empathetic-Good bosses recognize that even their best employees may go through troubling times, which will impact their work. Look for signs that may indicate that something may have changed for your employee. Perhaps your most reliable employee is now showing up late for work. Or your happy-go-lucky employee no longer smiles. Acknowledge this shift and share resources, such as the phone number to your Employee Assistance Plan, to demonstrate that you are genuinely concerned about their well-being.

No one said playing the lead role of boss would be easy. But with practice, and some coaching along the way, it won’t be long before you are thanking the academy for your nomination into the Good Boss Hall of Fame.

Take advantage of my summer time special on coaching. Mention “Summer Special” and I’ll add an extra month of coaching, at no additional cost. Contact me at to learn more.

Posted in Coaching, Leadership, Management

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