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

The Leaving Speech: How To Get Your Employees To Stay By Preparing Them To Leave

Rob-nixon-blogprofileI always tell my clients to start with the end goal in mind and work backwards. Magnetic leader, Rob Nixon, CEO & Founder at PANALITIX , and author of the newly released, Remaining Relevant, has taken this to the extreme. Nixon delivers an awesome leaving speech to each employee on his or her first day of employment, based on how he’d ideally like them to think about his firm and their experience working there, on the day they leave.

Nixon understands that his job as a leader is to ensure his people achieve their maximum potential. He know there will come a day when his best people will leave. so he does what he can to make sure they are fully prepared to fly from the nest and soar.

Nixon recently announced with joy the resignation of one of his star employees. He couldn’t be more proud of her. Here is what he wrote on his blog.

Today marks the end of a 5 year and 2 month era. But it’s also the start of a new one. One of our star performers, Sharon McClafferty is leaving to look for new opportunities. She started as a sales coordinator and was quickly promoted into the role of sales where she quickly started outselling seasoned professionals. Within 12 months she was the sales manager where she grew and lead a team of 7 people. She had never sold anything before joining our company yet in 5 years she has sold in excess of $5M of new revenue. An absolute superstar. When Sharon sells she doesn’t sell. That’s the difference. She is an amazing relationship builder who makes a difference to those that she engages. She tells me she has done over 750 consultations to Accountants which is awesome.

On or close to the day she started I had the ‘leaving speech’ with her. It went something like this:

“Sharon, welcome to the team. We’re thrilled you’re here. I am sure you’re the right person for the job and I know there is a lot going on this week. I just wanted to talk to you for a few minutes about the day you leave. You will leave one day, everyone does. I know this is your first day and I know you’ll leave sometime in the future so I figured we should talk about it now.

I have a number of hopes and desires for that inevitable day. Firstly, I hope we part on good company. I don’t want someone to fire you because you didn’t work out or make you redundant because of a business downturn. Secondly, I hope that you learn a lot, contribute a lot and have a lot of fun. Thirdly, I hope that you live by our values, service and culture standards and the standards we set become part of your life. And lastly when you look back at this block of time, no matter how long it is, you look back on it fondly as an amazing part of your career. Welcome to the team. That’s all I wanted to say.”

I do this with every new team member close to the day they start. Sharon has ticked all those boxes and she has grown into an extraordinary professional.

Imagine what it must feel like to work with such a magnetic leader as Rob. After reading his blog posting, I was ready to pack my bags and move to Australia, just to experience what it would be like to work for someone who cares more about his people than he does about his profits. Is your leadership style making this kind of emotional connection with those who you’ve  hired or are about to hire? If so, tell me what you are doing to make such a deep connection and I may very well write about you next time. If not, what are you going to do differently today, to make sure you are channeling your inner Rob Nixon?

Posted in Creating Exceptional Work Places, Employee Engagement, Hiring and Recruitment, Leadership, Management, Thought Leadership, Workplace

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How Many Employees Are Waiting In Your Departure Lounge?

Passengers waiting in airport departure loungeNobody likes to talk about it, even though it is happening in workplaces all across America – employees who have decided it is time to fly the coop. Departure lounges are overflowing with these types of employees – all waiting for their final boarding call.

Employees rarely start a job thinking they will tour around the company for a while and then seek greener pastures, and yet it happens all the time. Here are five things you can do to prevent employees from taking flight:

Guard Your Exits

Are employees exiting as quickly as you are hiring them? If this is the case, there is a malfunction in your hiring system. Closely examine all the parts of your hiring process to determine which pieces must be fixed. For example, suppose turnover is particularly high during the first 90 days of service. Ask yourself the following:

  • Are we hiring the right types of people for these jobs? Yes, it is nice to hire Ivy League graduates, but are they really well suited for beverage sales?
  • Are we accurately representing our jobs to candidates? If your administrative job descriptions sound more like the CEO’s job, then it is time for another re-write.
  • Are we over-promising and under-delivering? Perhaps it is time to get real. Sure, we would all like to operate like Google, but few companies actually do. Accurately describe your work environment and let candidates decide if the fit is right for them.

Now is a great time to dust off plans you may have designed for a formal exit interview process. Start asking exiting employees what you could have done differently to have prevented them from leaving. You will then have the information you need to make changes before others fly out the door.

Formally welcome everyone onboard

Imagine a place where employees are welcomed before they even set foot on company soil. This would be a place where employees feel connected before their first official day of work. Some might even start recruiting their current co-workers to join them on this new journey. Welcome to the world of Onboarding.

Onboarding is the one chance you will get to create a positive new employee experience. Just think how productive you might have been during your first few weeks or months of employment had your current or former employer taken the time to make you feel welcomed, valued, and prepared. Come to think of it, if they would have done this, you might still be working there.

You might be thinking that you don’t have time to hold someone’s hand or that all employees should have to suffer just like you did. Would you feel the same if you knew that with a little effort, you would have more time to focus on other initiatives besides replacing newly-hired employees?

Make checking-in easy

 Could your check-in systems use some improvements? Do your employees have to stand in long lines just to have a conversation with their manager? Are employees fully aware of how well they are performing? Or is last year’s performance review still on your desk waiting to be completed?

Checking-in is a two-way street. When it comes to performance, both employees and employers should know what the other is thinking. Provide feedback throughout the year so employees can adjust their performance, while seeking feedback from employees regarding ways you can improve the management of the company.

Drop the Excess Baggage

Nothing weighs a company down more than excess weight. Do you have marginal performers hiding out behind strong team members? Are employees still in your employ who have received their fifth final warning?

In this economy, you cannot afford to have anyone or anything slowing down the momentum in your organization. Look around and begin the process of eliminating excess baggage. You will be surprised how many top performers change their travel plans once they see you are committed to building an organization of outstanding employees.

Throw in some perks

 The trend of slicing and dicing employee benefits seems to be quite popular during lean economic times. Many organizations have started to charge employees for items that used to be free. But is this really a way to retain the people who you will be asking to take on more responsibility during tough economic times?

Show your employees you care. Figure out what types of perks motivate your team and then start thanking them properly.

Make these changes now and you will not have to fret the next time you hear the phrase, “This is the final boarding call…”

© 2015 Human Resource Solutions. All rights reserved.



Posted in Employee Engagement, Employee Turnover, Hiring and Recruitment, Retention, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Talent Maximization

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Ten Reasons Why You Can’t Fill Jobs And What You Can Do To Change This

Office chair Help Wanted Job Hiring IconsIt pains me to stand by and watch others continuously try to fill the same jobs day in and day out. I’ve reached the point where I can no longer sit back and be silent. Here are ten reasons you can’t fill jobs, and what you can do to change this.

  1. Your expectations are ridiculous. Requiring administrative personnel, such as receptionists and executive assistants, to have degrees is just plain stupid. It’s difficult enough to find good administrative help. Why make it harder? When setting qualifications, be reasonable and realistic.
  2. You’re stuck in a time warp. Requiring a specific SAT score in order for a candidate to be considered for a job (true story) gets a failing grade in my book. I know a lot of smart people who received low performance grades at work. Focus on what matters most — potential.
  3. You’re not that impressive. Sorry to be the one that has to tell you this, but when I go to your website, you don’t appear all that impressive. Your website is all about you, and speaks nothing to me. You can change this. Call today for a consultation, and we’ll have you looking really good in no time.
  4. You had me at hello, and lost me at, “Can you hang on a minute while I answer this call?” Your hiring managers are repelling candidates. It’s not entirely their fault. Be sure everyone involved in your hiring process knows the importance of making a good impression. Train them to turn candidates on, rather than off.
  5. Your reputation proceeds you…and not in a good way. I recently presented a webinar for Glassdoor titled, 3 Reasons Why CEOs Can’t Ignore Glassdoor, and was surprised to learn how few executives know about this site. Glassdoor is a transparent community where employees and former employees anonymously review companies and their management. Don’t get caught off guard. Manage the reputation of your employment brand. It’s all you’ve really got.
  6. You’re taking too long to hire. I recently bought a home in a very hot real estate market. I had to develop a strategy to circumvent the bidding wars that were going on all around me. You must do the same. What can you do differently in your hiring process that will allow you to be more nimble and avoid the craziness of a hot job market?
  7. You appear to always be hiring. You haven’t figured out how to take those filled job openings off your website. You think that’s a good thing when someone leaves again. Perhaps not, as your company appears to be a revolving door. Assign someone to manage the job openings on your website and be sure to remove jobs as soon as they are filled.
  8. You are refusing to pay agency fees. Well good for you! That leaves more of the recruiter’s time for those willing to invest in hiring the right people, some of whom may be working for you right now.
  9. Talent isn’t a priority for you. If it were a priority, you’d be on the hunt every day for people who would be a good fit for your organization.
  10. You are overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. You are not alone. Hiring the right people for your firm requires considerable thought. Of course being paralyzed and doing nothing to advance your cause isn’t very helpful either. Begin by picking up the phone and asking for help. I promise you’ll be glad you did.

Sign up for my complimentary newsletter, The Talent Maximizer.

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

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How To Hire Top Talent In A Membership Economy

Membership vip stampIn her new book, The Membership Economy, Robbie Kellman Baxter, Founder of Peninsula Strategies, a Silicon Valley consulting firm that has advised organizations including Netflix, the National Restaurant Association and  SurveyMonkey, discusses how the Membership Economy is replacing the Ownership Economy—and how it represents a shift in mindset among both the organizations and the customers—not only from ownership to access, but from transactional to relational.  “There have always been organizations that leveraged principles of membership to build loyalty and recurring revenue (think gyms, book-of-the-month clubs, and many nonprofits) but changes in technology have extended the infrastructure of trust, providing the opportunity for nearly any kind of business to join the Membership Economy,” states Baxter.

In a recent interview, I asked Baxter if there is a difference in customer expectations in the membership economy versus the rest of the economy. She said, “Absolutely! The transaction becomes the starting line instead of the finish line, and the member expects a meaningful, ongoing relationship with the organization.  Think about how you feel at places where you are a member—you expect more from them—they should know you, cut you slack if you forgot your wallet or need a favor—but at the same time, you might be willing to be more patient with them too. Once we become members, we don’t reconsider the transaction every month or ever year—it’s automatic.  And that is very different than something you buy repeatedly—in those situations, like when you buy a candy bar or choose a rental car company, each purchase is an opportunity to reconsider your choice.”

More and more businesses are moving towards the Membership Economy, which means companies in all lines of business must upgrade their customer experience and their talent, if they expect to compete in this new economy. The Membership Economy model of business is completely built on trust. Members pay a monthly membership fee and in exchange, they expect a certain level of service, on a consistent basis. The Membership Economy is also about community. Members often have access to one another via online forums and most are not shy about sharing both good and bad experiences. That’s why it’s especially important to hire people who can deliver on the brand experience you are promising.

When hiring, seek out those with the following traits:

  • Problem solvers. These are people who don’t rely on company manuals to resolve customer problems. Instead, they seek immediate ways to get customers back on track.
  • Strong communicators. Strong customer services is all about relationships and relationships are all about strong communication skills. Hire people who are able to easily communicate online, on the phone and in person.
  • Conscientious. Hire people who take pride in their work. They will ensure your customer’s experience is stellar.
  • Enthusiasm. Look for people who are positive. Their enthusiasm is bound to spill over to others, including your customers.
  • Even keeled. Working in a service economy can be stressful. Seek people who tend to let things roll off their shoulders.

I understand how challenging it can be these days to find people with the traits I’ve listed above. However, anything less will be a disservice to your customers and your brand and will result in a decline in membership and business.

The Membership Economy isn’t going away any time soon. If anything, it will grow stronger. Companies with magnetic leadership will be able to more easily attract and hire the talent needed to compete in any economy. And most importantly, these companies will be able to retain the very same people everyone else will be trying to hire.

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

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5 Characteristics Of A Great Mentoring Relationship

Finding great employeesIf you’ve ever had a mentor or been a mentor, then you know how this relationship can be a game-changer for years to come. Here are 5 characteristics of a great mentoring relationship:

The relationship is mutually beneficial. The best mentoring relationships are those where both parties are getting something out of the relationship. The mentor may receive personal satisfaction knowing he or she is helping someone who is looking to propel his or her career forward, while the mentee feels fortunate to have access to someone who knows the playing field fairly well.

There are high levels of trust. Trust is the thread that holds the mentoring relationship together. Without trust, neither party can move forward. Here are some signs that you have a trusting relationship. Both parties share personal challenges. Neither person thinks twice before speaking. Honesty is the rule, rather than the exception.

Communication flows easily. Both parties look forward to their next point of connection. Conversations become more sophisticated as the relationship matures. Both mentor and mentee actively listen to one another and remain in the moment.

Commitment is strong. The relationship is a priority to both parties. Meetings are rarely missed.

The sun sets in a timely manner. Nothing lasts forever, including mentoring relationships. When the relationship has run it’s course, neither party hangs on out of convenience. Both agree that for growth to continue, one must let go.

Interested in more tips on mentoring? Sign up for my newsletter, The Talent Maximizer.



Posted in Careers, Mentoring

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Turning Failures Into Successes

overnight successTomorrow, I will be launching my first virtual session of Move Up/Manage Right. I never would have considered doing this, had I not failed in my attempt to cross the Canadian border and deliver a live session of this program. That whole ordeal is something for another post. For now, let’s focus on how I was able to turn what could have been a huge failure into success.

After being denied access into Canada, I was left with a room full of students waiting for my arrival. Fortunately, a colleague was presenting another program at the same hotel and was able to set up her laptop so that I could present virtually. I had never facilitated a training program virtually and had no idea how this was going to go. All I knew was that I had no choice but to give it my all. The two day virtual program turned out to be a huge success! Here’s some lessons learned:

Your better at doing things than you think. I’ll be the first to admit that technology for me is a double-edge sword. I try to embrace new technology, as I find the potential exciting, yet I do so with one hand on my cell phone waiting to call the troops in for help. We certainly had some blips during our two-day session, due to poor Wifi in the hotel meeting room where the class was in attendance, but by the end, we took the situation and used it as a case-study on what to do as a leader when the unexpected occurs. This session wound up being one of our highest rate programs. I guess I’m better at using technology than I think. I also learned that providing people high levels of value is much more important than trying to dazzle them in the classroom.

No one expects perfection. As a consultant, you always want to give your clients your best work. It took me a while to figure this out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your clients expect perfection. Things happen. It’s how you recover that matters most. We thought some people would be demanding refunds or choosing not to return the second day because of my travel snafu. In anticipation, we decided to offer everyone downloads to recorded teleconferences of their choice. I also offered participants a complimentary coaching session to ensure they received personal time with me. Much to our surprise, not one person requested an adjustment and everyone returned for day two.

Mistakes can be a great launching platform. A year ago, I was asked to facilitate a virtual training program for Suddenly in Charge. I came up with a million reasons why this would never work. I did so out of fear. Who would want to attend such a program? Don’t you have to connect with people one-on-one in order for them to learn? What happens if the technology fails? Tomorrow, I am letting caution fall to the wind. I’m going to log into the system and connect with participants from all across the country. I know that by the end of our fourth session, they will be better prepared, than they are today, to lead their people. Am I afraid this will fail? Absolutely not and if it does,  I’m certain I can turn that failure into success as well.

I hope you’ll consider joining me virtually or in New Orleans for the next Move Up/Manage Right session.


Posted in Learning and Development, Management

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And The Oscar Goes To…

Depositphotos_Oscar golden trophy_lHonestly, does anyone even care who the Oscar went to last night? As usual, the show was predictable with the exception of Lady Gaga, who brought the house down with her Julie Andrews tribute.

Predictable is a word that describes a lot of leaders these days. The executive, who permits some members of his team to show up late daily, because he  hates conflict. The manager, who hasn’t turned in a performance review on time since she was promoted, is consistently late with her reviews even though her boss has discussed this with her. The leader, who churns employees faster than HR can replace them, is still in place. These same leaders are touted as star employees, in spite of their lackluster performance. How can this be?

The answer can be summed up in one word—politics. If you watch closely, months before the award show the nominees can be seen campaigning for that golden statue. They are doing the late show circuit, as well as showing their faces on YouTube. The same thing happens in organizations—campaigning that is. Savvy workers know who in the organization has the power to make them a star and they play the game as seamlessly as those Oscar contenders. If you want to compete for the trophy, (and the cash that comes along with it) then you must take matters into your own hands. Here’s how.

Be memorable. Most of last night’s nominees gave memorable performances, which will be talked about for years to come.  You need to do the same. Do your work so well that others can’t help but notice how great you are.

Sing loudly. Lady Gaga held nothing back in last night’s performance. You can’t afford to hold back either. You have to sing your own praises loudly to be heard in a sea of cubicles. I talk about how to do this in my book, Suddenly in Charge.

Be different. I’ll admit that I didn’t care for the movie Birdman. However, it was certainly a film that was different than what I’m used to seeing.  The producers  took a huge risk making this movie, but as you can see from last night’s results, this strategy paid off. What risks are you taking in your career? Are you playing it safe so you can have a seat at the table or are you creating your own table?

Last night’s Oscars are now but a faded memory. The slate has been wiped clean. What are you going to do today, to ensure you are a shoo in, when your company nominates their star performers at next year’s company awards ceremony?

Posted in Leadership, Managing Up, Performance Management

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A Day In The Life Of A Paparazzi

IMG_0434If someone would have told me that I would be spending one of my precious mornings in NYC stalking a celebrity, I would have told them they were crazy. However, this is exactly what I did this week on one of the coldest days of the year. I joined the ranks of the Paparazzi in search of Taylor Swift.

I didn’t start my day with the intention of trying out a new career, nor did I intend to become one of those crazy fans who camps outside the door of a well-known celebrity. But sometimes things happen and you have no choice but to go with the flow.

Looking back, I now realize my first mistake was telling my fourteen-year-old daughter that we were staying in the same neighborhood where Taylor Swift resides. Our plans to see some of the better known sites of NYC were quickly tossed aside for Taylor. It’s amazing how much research a teenager will do when the topic is of interest to her. With a flick of an I-Phone, we had a fairly good sense of Taylor’s whereabouts as well as her NYC address. Apparently our idea to visit Taylor’s flat wasn’t all that novel, as there were other teenagers standing their with their equally crazy moms.

It wasn’t long before Taylor’s security detail arrived to help pack up the superstar. Right behind them, was the paparazzi, who seem to travel in packs. You think you know exactly what someone’s job is, but you really don’t until you do it. I spent two hours standing in the freezing cold weather getting to know one of the photographers, who was a full-time fire fighter and a part-time celeb chaser. He warned me that we might be standing there for hours (a thought that I did not find comforting) and that there were no guarantees we’d actually see our celeb. He shared stories of leaving the job site for a restroom break or to grab lunch, only to find out that his target had departed while he was away. All the more reason for me to stay in place, even if it meant frostbite.

I was three hours into my new career and fantasizing about joining the pack on a full-time basis when the news arrived. Ms. Swift had indeed been in her apartment, only she was no longer there. She slipped out the back door just about the time I was capturing pictures of her luggage. I almost  cried, but my tear ducts were frozen. I turned around to ask my new paparazzi friend how much a picture of Taylor’s luggage might command on the open market, only to find that he had moved on. He was either on his way to the airport in search of Taylor or on route to the restroom. As for me, my stalking days are behind me. That is until this summer when Taylor tours in New England and returns to her home in Rhode Island.

I must say, I now have a heck of a lot more respect for the paparazzi now that I’ve walked in their shoes. Trying on the job of someone else should be a required exercise in every organization.

Posted in Careers

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Why A Coach Might Be Exactly What You Need

Depositphotos_Coach_lCoaching has come a long way since the days when companies used an outside resource to help fix toxic behavior at the top of the organization. Today, coaches are widely used across all levels of the organization to help people accelerate their development and improve their performance as leaders. Heck, even quarterback superstar Tom Brady has a coach or two! A great coach can help you make the most of your natural abilities and find ways to work around your weaknesses. So why would you even think of passing up this wonderful opportunity to up your game?

You may be thinking my company will never provide me with a coach. For some that may be true. However for many, coaches are available for the asking. Here’s what you should be looking for when selecting a coach to help dramatically boost your performance.

  1. Seek someone who has been there. You wouldn’t jump out of a plane with someone who has never skydived. So why would you hire a coach who has never done what you are seeking to do? When searching for a coach, find someone who has achieved the level of success you are aiming for.
  2. Forget the certifications. Coaching is like the big bad West. There is no widely accepted certification granting organization in the field of coaching, although some may argue they are indeed the only ones who can deem people coaches. While I applaud people’s efforts to be effective coaches by attending certification programs, I would not turn someone away who has worked directly with clients to improve their conditions, simply because they didn’t have initials after their name.
  3. Chemistry-At the end of the day, it comes down to fit. If you watch Dancing with The Stars, you know what I mean. Some stars perform at a higher level when their teacher is a taskmaster, while others need a more subtle approach. You know yourself best. Find a coach who will take you out of your comfort zone and will make you the best you can be.
  4. Focus on the quality; not the price-We can get to the same destination in a four-cylinder car, yet some of us choose to drive a high-performance vehicle that will get us there faster. Of course there is a cost to making this choice. Like cars, coaches come in a variety of models. Know what you’re getting and be sure you’re not sacrificing speed for cost.

To learn more about coaching and my programs, please contact me at

Posted in Coaching

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Job Searches Are Up As Snow Falls Down

Winter WeatherIt’s been a tough winter here in New England. Over the past several weeks we’ve been blessed with three major snow falls. Accumulation on the ground, as of this writing, appears to be about three feet. More on the way.

I’m hunkering down and catching up on my writing. However, it appears  I’m not the only one taking advantage of this time to move my New Years resolutions forward. Job site Monster just released a report on the impact these winter storms are having on businesses. It turns out that while most companies shut down in the North East last week for Winter Storm Juno, many of us were still thinking about work — just not our current jobs. According to search data from Monster, in cities where forecasters predicted several feet of snow — but the storm ultimately delivered inches or less — people used the unexpected day off from work to look for a new job.

The report from Monster revealed that searches for jobs in New York City, which received less than 10 inches of snow, were up 40% over the previous Tuesday. In Philadelphia, where they expected a foot of snow and received just a dusting in some areas, job searches were up 45%. And nearby to New York City, in White Plains, job searches spiked by 72 percent week-over-week. That’s a lot of looking! I expect we’ll receive a slew of new job announcements in three month’s time.

As a leader you know you won’t be able to hang on to everyone forever. In fact, you probably have some people on your team who you hope will go sooner, rather than later. (We’ll save that issue for another post.) However, there are things you can do right now to convince people that it’s better in your employ than elsewhere.

Start with you. Your job as a leader is to make sure your people have opportunities to develop and grow. When is the last time you tapped one of your high potentials or new managers on the shoulder and suggested he or she attend a program that will improve their skills? Some of you may be thinking that I don’t have the budget to send them offsite or I can’t commit the time. In less than two weeks, I will be facilitating a Move Up/Manage Right virtual program for leaders interested in dramatically boosting their leadership skills. The price is right, as is the location. Consider registering several of your people today, before they take a day off this week to go interview with one of the companies they’ve been speaking with on their snow day off.

Posted in Leadership, Learning and Development, Management, Retention, Suddenly In Charge, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Talent Maximization

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