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

Three Timeless Tips for Tactful Terminations

Imagine finding out through a Tweet that you’ve been fired. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson doesn’t have to imagine this, as this actually just happened to him. A senior State Department official said Tillerson learned of the president’s official decision from Trump’s tweet and that he was never informed directly by the White House that he had been fired.

Tillerson is probably not the first person to learn of his firing through social media and I suspect he won’t be the last. Which made me think that many of you could use some guidance when it comes to letting employees go.

In my book, The Magnetic Leader, I give readers a complete playbook on how to respectfully transition people out of the organization. This is more important than ever these days, as you don’t want disgruntled employees posting negative reviews about you and your organization on places like Glassdoor. If they do, it will make it even harder for you to attract talent, in what is already a very tight labor market.

Here are some key points, which I share in my book.

Show R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Aretha Franklin sang about it back in 1967 and it still rings true. I’ve seen too many frustrated leaders treat those they are about to terminate as if they are radioactive waste. Their hands-off approach leads to ill will all around, not to mention lawsuits. You liked this person well enough to hire him, so demonstrate respect as you transition him out of the company.

Be Clear

I’ve heard stories of people asking for raises at the same time their employers were discussing their poor performance and their impending termination. Do yourself and the employee a favor. Be very clear that the conversation you are about to embark on is the end of the road rather than the beginning of a new path toward a wonderful future together.

Be Honest

Telling someone how great she is and then terminating her during the same meeting never ends well. The termination conversation isn’t the time to coach someone on what she could have done differently to have kept her job, nor is it the time to tell her how much you’ve enjoyed having her on the team. Be honest and succinct.

What would you add to this list?


Posted in Leadership, Management
Tagged ,
Leave a comment

The Biggest Mistake New CEOs Make

The biggest mistake CEOs make is waiting too long to make changes with their executive team. They’ll use all sorts of excuses like, “I need more time to see what this guy can really do.” Or, “She’s probably having a hard time to getting used to working for a new leader.” All the while, they know deep inside these people need to go.

Not making a decision is in itself making a decision. You run the risk of having these non-decisions come back to haunt you. You also gain the reputation of not being all that different than the CEO you just replaced. Your followers begin to lose respect and before long, you’re operating from a point of weakness, rather than strength.

No doubt many of you struggle with similar situations. My CEO clients, whom I advise, do so as well. The difference is they have a trusted advisor they can speak with, to help them quickly work through issues like these. If you’re interested in having one as well, reach out to me and we can start the conversation.

Posted in Talent Maximization
Tagged , ,
Leave a comment

How Boring Companies Can Retain Talent

Employee Retention

I have a friend who has been employed by a public utility for over twenty-five years. Talk about an industry and a company that most would not find sexy! Yet, at the age of 59 years old, she’s still receiving promotions and most recently found herself in a new job that she knows nothing about. She has no plans of leaving anytime soon. Why? Because she’s still learning and sees there are more opportunities in front of her than behind her.

Here’s how boring companies can use their even keeled personalities to win over the hearts and minds of those they are seeking to hire.

Be yourself. Up to 20 percent of employee turnover takes place within the first 45 days. A study recently revealed the reason why this is so.

I’m not doing the work I was hired to do.

I’m not doing any of the cool new things that were discussed during the interview process.

Let’s assume you’re hiring bright people. If this is the case, surely they’re going to quickly figure out they’ve been sold a bill of goods. Instead, why not be honest? You may not get as many acceptances, but you also won’t damage your reputation by churning people.

Go with what you’ve got. You may not be the sexiest company in town, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things about you that others won’t find attractive. Play on your strengths. For example, suppose your company has never laid off workers. That would be a selling point for a worker who is seeking a company he or she can stay with.

Or perhaps your company is known as an organization that gives back to the community. Lots of people today are looking for more than a job. They’re looking for purpose. Be sure to highlight this on your website and talk about this during interviews.

Invest in your people. Nothing’s more appealing to workers than great managers. Yet companies keep pumping money into perks that don’t work. All the free beer in the world won’t make employees delusional enough to stick around when they work for a boss who lacks leadership skills.

Now’s the time to transform your managers into magnetic leaders. These leaders retain top talent effortlessly. Do the math? How much does it cost you when an employee leaves your organization? You can use my complimentary employee turnover calculator to calculate this. I bet that number is far greater than the investment needed to ensure you have great leadership throughout your firm.

Boring is the new sexy in terms of employee retention. Don’t believe me? Then ask those long-term employees, whom you’ve been unable to recruit, why they are going home with the one who brought them to the dance.

Posted in Employee Engagement, Employee Turnover, Retention, Talent Acquisition and Retention
Leave a comment

Three Things to Consider as You Wind Down the Year

Leadership Score Card

As you wind down the year, here are some things to consider.

  1. Is talent now seeking us out? If not, what will you do differently in the new year?
  2. Are there people on your team that you’re secretly hoping others will poach? What’s your plan to change this?
  3. How personally satisfied would you be if next year were a re-run of this year?  If the answer is very, then keep doing what you’re doing. If you don’t want a repeat of this year again, then commit to making the changes required to have a stellar year.

Need help? Reach out to me at

Posted in Leadership, Management, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Talent Maximization
Tagged , , , , ,
Leave a comment

Five Workplace Prediction for 2018

Business people cheering celebrating new year

Every year, I create workplace predictions based on my work with clients and my uncanny ability to see what others miss. Here are the first five of eighteen workplace predictions for the coming year. The rest will be announced in my January newsletter, which you can receive by subscribing here.

1.    Record numbers of employees will jump ship within three months of receiving their year-end bonuses.

Right now, while you’re thinking about last minute holiday gifts for the family, there’s a recruiter calling one of your people. They’re probably suggesting that this person meet with them next week, while you’re on vacation.

Now’s the time to have that conversation you seem to never have time for. You know the one where you ask your employee how you can help her achieve her career aspirations. Do this today, even if it means canceling that holiday lunch you’ve scheduled with one of your cronies.

2.    Experienced bounty-hunters will have a much easier time pulling talent out of organizations than in years past, leaving behind the exact people employers wish they had taken.

Why is is that the good people get plucked and the people we wish would leave seem to be left behind? First of all, if you’ve got people on your team that you hope will be recruited away, then you’ve got a big problem. You’re not managing people out of the organization.

Make a list. On the left side, place the names of those who you’d really miss if they went away tomorrow. These are your keepers and where you should be devoting most of your attention. On the right side, write down the names of people who you’d be thrilled to see go. They need your attention too. They need to be sent packing.

I’m not telling you to do this right before Christmas. But what I am saying is that you should take action the first week of January.

3.    There will be a lot more shouting in organizations as employees tell harassers to keep their frigging hands to themselves.

I was speaking with an executive of a very large organization about a speech I’m delivering to his leadership team. I asked him some very pointed questions, including a few on the atmosphere in his organization in terms of harassment. He quickly dismissed this part of our conversation and said, “We don’t have any harassment problems here.”

Here’s what went through my head. Really? Hundreds of global employees working in a male dominated industry and you don’t think there’s even the slightest possibility this is going on in your organization as well?

Let me tell you, we’re going to hear a lot more stories about sexual harassment. If you don’t want to be tomorrow’s headlines, then take action today.

4.    We’ll see a slew of men (and some women) being “put on leave” as more stories of harassment become public knowledge.

See #3.

5.    Companies will still be surprised when employees are disappointed with the meager raises they will be receiving.

2018 is going to be the year of surprises for all of us. Individual healthcare contributions will rise, which means employees will take home even less in their paychecks. A measly three percent pay increase is not going to do anything to inspire people to work harder.

If you want people to stay, then you’ll need to take the money from what will probably be large corporate tax cuts and use them for salary increases. Of course you’re welcome to ignore this advice, which is exactly what headhunters are hoping for as they look to pluck record levels of talent out of organizations.

© Matuson Consulting, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Want to create an organization that attracts top talent towards you? Contact me at and we’ll get a call on the calendar.

I’ve partnered with LinkedIn Learning to develop courses to help you increase your ability to hire top talent that will stick around. Check them out!

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

Roberta Matuson is the author of the newly released second edition of Suddenly in Charge, The Magnetic Leader and Talent Magnetism.

Posted in General Observations, Hiring and Recruitment, Leadership, Talent Acquisition and Retention
Tagged , , , ,
Leave a comment

The Answer Lies Within

Want to offer a perk that no one else has? Many are searching for a magical formula, but the fact is that the answer lies inside businesses’ organizations. Instead of offering crazy perks, companies need to focus on the one perk they can’t get anywhere else, which is the opportunity to work with a truly magnetic leader. Click here to begin your journey.

Posted in Leadership
Tagged , , ,
Leave a comment

How to Thank Your Employees All Year Long

Employee Engagement

Are you guilty of thanking your people only on special holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas? Research on employee engagement consistently shows, that how you feel is often more important than what you earn.

In a study funded by Make Their Day, an employee motivation firm, and Badgeville, a gamification company, surveyed 1,200 U.S. employees from a broad cross-section of industries. A key finding was that 70% of survey respondents reported their most meaningful recognition “had no dollar value” – a substantial increase from 57% in a similar survey 2007.

Among the study’s highlights:

– 83% of respondents said recognition for contributions was more fulfilling than any rewards or gifts;

– 76% found peer praise very or extremely motivating;

– 88% found praise from managers very or extremely motivating;

– 90% said a “fun work environment” was very or extremely motivating.

That being said, most people do appreciate extra cash or some perks that demonstrate their manager values the work they do.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Send your employees packing. That’s right. Send your employees home. Every now and again, tap those who are deserving of a day off on the shoulder and send them home, with pay. Tell them to take the rest of the day off and go see a movie or take care of some matters that they never seem to have the time to do.

Compliment your employees in front of customers. Praise seems to be in short supply as managers get busier and busier. Take a few moments to let an employee know they’re doing a great job and if all possible, do this in front of a customer or your boss.

Offer flex time. The gift of flexible time is one that is appreciated by many. Some organizations require employees to be at work during core hours, and employee can set their schedule around this. Others allow employees to put in hours at their own discretion. Most require employees to have a set schedule so managers can plan for coverage. The schedule may be adjusted to accommodate personal matters like doctor’s appointments.

Provide free chair massages. Fifteen minutes in the chair once a week, and employees will return to their desks refreshed and ready to tackle their to-do lists.

Offer optional telecommuting. Reward your best performers by providing them with the option to telecommute. In an increasingly mobile and digitally connected world, many employees can easily and successfully work from home part- or full-time.

Pay on-the-spot bonuses. Imagine your boss coming over to you and handing you an envelope with an unexpected bonus for a job well done. How cool is that? Try it and you’ll see how motivating this small gesture can be.

Give out event tickets. Hot new play coming into town? Sporting event coming up with tickets that are impossible to get? Snag a few tickets (even if you have to pay a premium) and give them out as thanks for a job well done.

As we enter the Thanksgiving holiday, followed by the Christmas season, keep in mind that giving thanks is something we should be doing all year long.

© Matuson Consulting, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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

Order your copy of my latest book, The Magnetic Leader here.

Posted in Employee Engagement, Leadership, Management, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Talent Maximization
Tagged , , , ,
Leave a comment

The Real Truth About Promotions at Work

How to Win Your Next Promotion

Be honest. How long have you been thinking it’s your turn for a promotion and what exactly have you done to move your candidacy forward? Here’s the thing. It’s not enough to think about a promotion. There are a number of steps you need to take in order to make this happen. Here are three.

First, you have to make it known you’re interested in moving up. Yes, I know, it would be lovely if your boss tapped you on the shoulder and told you she thought you were due a promotion. In reality, that rarely happens. The promotions go to those people who let the boss know they are interested in taking on more responsibility. These people also let their bosses know why they should be considered above all others.

That’s why the second thing you have to do is self-promote. Right about now, many of you are thinking, “Nope. Not going to do that! I hate people who do that.” Most likely the people that you really hate are the ones that passed right by you and took the promotion you felt was yours.

I’m not advocating that you be obnoxious. What I am saying is that every now and then, you need to remind your boss of the value that you’re adding to her department. You’ve got to keep her informed about the new skills you’ve acquired and how those skills will be an asset to the organization, as you move ahead. I call this strategic bragging, which I talk about into detail in my latest book, Suddenly in Charge. This is where you weave in stories about some of your accomplishments that most people are not familiar with. You do so in a way that makes you a person of interest.

You must invest in yourself. Companies have limited resources and if you’re lucky, they may send you to a $99 one-day seminar at the local Holiday Inn. If those really amounted to a lot, you’d have tons of well-qualified people ready to move into their next positions. The most successful people I know took ownership of their own career development. They went to their boss with a plan and asked for their boss’s input. They also asked for support. If they were turned down, and some were, they made it a point to find the resources so they could move forward. Why? Because they knew they were ultimately responsible for advancing their careers.

As you think about the next step in your career, do a bit less thinking and take a lot more action. And it won’t be long before you’re the recipient of that promotion you’ve been dreaming about!

Simply thinking about your next promotion isn’t going to get you one. I’ll be conducting a teleconference on Friday, December 1st to help people obtain a promotion in the New Year. Your investment will pay off tenfold, when you receive a raise with your promotion. You can register here.

Posted in Careers

Leave a comment

Play to Your Strengths

Bruce Springsteen plays to his strengths

I’m in the middle of reading Bruce Springsteen’s book, Born to Run and had a big aha moment. Bruce wrote that he knew he didn’t have the best voice and that others could outplay him any day. What they couldn’t do, was out write him so that’s what he focused on. He focused on songwriting.  What do you do better than anyone else? Find out what it is and exploit it!

Posted in Talent Maximization
Tagged , ,
Leave a comment

Suddenly in Charge 2.0

The second edition of Suddenly in Charge released today, which got me thinking. It’s been six years since the first book came out and a lot has changed in the world of business. Here’s what hasn’t changed. If you do not quickly figure out how to manage up, you will not need to worry about how to manage down. Copy this quote and put it in a place where you can see it. Use this as a daily reminder of why mastering this skill is vital to career success.

It may seem unnatural to manage those above you in the top-down world of business. But mastering this skill is exactly what you must do to excel in any organization. You will always have “a boss,” even if you are currently an entrepreneur or you think you may be one someday. There will always be someone above you influencing what you do. This person may be your spouse, your partner, an outside investor, or may actually be your boss. It is critical to learn how to manage these relationships effectively, so you can secure the resources you need to be successful in any situation.

One of the keys to managing up is to not make it apparent that you are doing so. The only way to do this is to be authentic. That means that you need to take the advice you’re given and use what feels right to you.

Here’s an excerpt from the new edition of Suddenly in Charge from Roger Young, Executive Director at Li & Fung, that I hope will be beneficial as you make your way through the world of work.

In order to have a successful relationship with your boss you need to understand his management leadership style and adjust your behaviors, so you can give him what he needs. This will enable you to establish a productive relationship and get things done faster.

In my younger days, I was thrown into jobs where I wasn’t the technical expert in the field. I was a plant manager, although I wasn’t an engineer. I was director of sales and I had no sales or marketing experience. I soon realized that success was all about the people and aligning the department to the business.

I always had the point of view, “How do I help make my boss more successful?” I knew I needed to figure him or her out very quickly. Of course there are times when we may disagree, but when we walk out of the room and the decision’s been made and it’s not mine, I leave in alignment.”

I wish someone had given me advice like this when I was suddenly in charge. Perhaps I’d still be in charge!

Join me on September 22nd, where I’ll be sharing tips on the art of Managing Up in the Top Down World of Business. You can register here for the teleseminar. A recording will be sent to all registrants.

The second edition of the international bestseller, Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around is out. Be sure to order your copy!

© Matuson Consulting, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Leadership, Management, Talent Maximization
Tagged , , ,
Leave a comment