Counter Offers – when, why and what you should know.

Before accepting a counteroffer from your employer, consider whether you’ll be the winner or the loser in this employment maneuver.

Although no hard statistics are available, many employees who give notice are receiving counteroffers from their current companies to encourage them to stay.  These proposals can include one or more of the following:

·         A pay increase

·         A promotion and/or added responsibility

·         A promise of a future raise, promotion or other incentive

·         The creation of a new more appealing reporting structure or organization

·         Retention Bonus, while the company is in transition.

An employer may accompany its offer with an added motivator, such as a special call or visit from the vice president or CEO and other flattering gestures.  Or it may try to manipulate a departing employee by heaping on a sense of false guilt.

The Prevailing View

Now suppose that after months of interviews and negotiations, you accept a position with a new employer.  When your current company makes a counteroffer, you decide to renege and stay where you are.  It’s easy to interpret this as that you’re the winner.  After all, you’ll be paid more money, keep your tenure and possibly receive a promotion.

It’s Never The Same Again

No matter what the company says when making its counteroffer, you will always be considered a future risk. Having once demonstrated your lack of loyalty (for whatever reason), you will lose your status as a “team player” and your place in the inner circle.

·         Counteroffers can be used to stall and give your employer time to replace you.

·         Your reasons for wanting to leave still exist. Conditions are just made a bit more tolerable short term because of the raise, promotion or promises made to keep you.

·         Counteroffers are only made in response to a threat to quit. Will you have to solicit an offer and threaten to quit every time you deserve better working conditions?

·         Decent and well-managed companies don’t make counteroffers. EVER! Their policies are fair and equitable. They will not be subjected to “counteroffer coercion” or what they perceive as blackmail.

What Should You Do?

·         It’s naive for executives to be surprised by counteroffers these days.  In fields where talent is at a premium, the offers are a popular retention tactic.  But why should a company wait until the eleventh hour to keep someone it claims to value so highly?  Obviously, the move is pure defensive.  You may feel flattered, but don’t be fooled.  A counteroffer isn’t about what’s best for you; it’s about what’s best for the company.

·         If you expect to receive an offer to stay with your employer, how should you deal with it?  First, don’t allow a counteroffer discussion to occur.  Leaving the door open for discussion induces the company to invest time and resources into enticing you to stay.  This can make you feel guilty, which makes it more difficult to stick to your decision to leave, even though you know you should honor it.

·         Take an active part in your own career management.  If your company is interested in your progression, you’ll know it before you decide to resign.  If you change your mind and stay, your motives and methods will always be suspect.  Keep a steady course and don’t look back.

·         Submit a courteous, positive and final resignation letter that leaves no room for discussion.  By behaving honorably, you may have the option of re-employment with the company or to join a former boss elsewhere later on.  You’ll also have the chance to start a promising new role with additional challenges, an expanded network, an untarnished reputation and a clear conscience.  Everybody wins.

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