Beware of Counteroffers!
Expect 4 things from your employer when you give your resignation :
- Shock – “I can’t believe you are leaving the team!” (guilt)
- Probing – Who? Why? How much?
- Stall – They do not want to replace you so they will stall you, “don’t do anything until next Friday, or until ________talks to you”. They know that job offers come with an “acceptance by date”. It will often spoil the new opportunity if you call your new company and tell them that you need to wait 10 days to speak with some executive at your current company before you can accept.
- Counteroffer – An offer to keep the Manager from having to take the time to replace you
This is an excerpt of an article by R. Gaines Baty written for National Employment Weekly
Beware of Counteroffers!
They may beg you to stay now, then give you the boot later
You have been approached by a company and offered a position with growth potential and a moderate increase in compensation. You’ve analyzed and agonized over the decision to leave a good (or bad) job for what could be a better one, and have accepted or decided to accept the offer. However, upon resigning, your current boss asks you to stay. This appeal is know as the counteroffer or buyback.
In recent years, counteroffers have become the norm. “It’s almost like a part of the accepted divorce proceedings, and allows the boss to save face with his boss,” explains one departing Texas-based executive of a major airline.
But while buyback offers can be tempting, take care not to fall into the trap or be blindsided to your own detriment. Career changes are tough enough as it is, and anxieties about leaving a comfortable job, friends and location and having to reprove yourself again in an unknown opportunity can cloud the best of logic. But just because the new position is a little scary doesn’t mean it’s not a positive move.
Since buyback gestures can create confusion and buyer’s remorse you should understand what is being cast upon you. Counteroffers are typically made in conjunction with some form of flattery. For example: You’re too valuable, and we need you. You can’t desert the team/your friends and leave them hanging. We were just about to give you a promotion/raise, and it was confidential until now. What did they offer, why are you leaving, and what do you need to stay? Why would you want to work for that company? The President/CEO wants to meet with you before you make your final decision.
Counteroffers usually take the form of:more money a promotion / more responsibility a modified reporting structure promises or future considerations disparaging remarks about the new company or job and / or guilt trips.
Of course, since we all prefer to think we’re MVPs, it is natural to believe these manipulative appeals, but beware! Accepting a counteroffer is usually the wrong choice to make.
Your boss is likely concerned that he’ll look bad and that his career may suffer. Bosses are judged by their ability to retain staff. When a contributor quits, morale suffers. Further, your leaving might jeopardize an important project, increase staffer’s workload or even foul up a vacation schedule. It’s never a good time for someone to quit, and it may prove time-consuming and costly to replace you, especially considering recruitment and relocation expenses. It’s much cheaper to keep you, even at a higher salary. And it would be better to fire you later, on the company’s time frame.
“We’ve made counteroffers on occasion, if a good person approaches the issue professionally,” says a former senior partner of a large accounting firm. “But usually it was a stopgap measure because we couldn’t afford the defection at that point in time. We didn’t count on those people long term and usually they burned bridges two or three levels up, if not with their immediate manager. It definitely put them in a career holding pattern.”
The senior partner cites a long conference he once attended with his boss and two subordinate managers, in which they approved a counteroffer and raise to an employee two levels down. “Immediately after that meeting, my boss called me and said,“We can’t afford to lose him now, but our number one priority is to find a replacement, ASAP!” he says. “And we replaced him within a few months.”
I always tell candidates, there is no going back once the resignation is made.