BEFORE YOU ACCEPT A COUNTEROFFER
Through many years of experience, it is safe to advise entirely against accepting a counteroffer. A counteroffer is simply an inducement from your current employer to get you to stay with the company even though you've announced your intentions to accept a position with another firm. With a true counteroffer, there must be an actual threat to quit.
Interviews with employers who make counteroffers, and employees who accept them, have shown that as tempting as they may be, accepting a one may cause career ruin. In only rare cases does the counteroffer actually benefit the employee. Consider the problem in it's proper perspective. What really goes through a boss's mind when someone quits?
- This couldn't be happening at a worse time.
- This is one of my best people. If I let him quit now, it will hurt the morale of the department.
- I've already got one opening in my department. I don't need another one now.
- If I lose another good employee, it's going to make me look like a poor manager.
- Maybe I can keep him until I can find a suitable replacement.
What will the boss say to keep you from leaving? Some of these statements are common.
- I'm really surprised. I thought you were as happy with us as we were with you. Let's discuss it more before you make your final decision.
- I've been meaning to tell you about the great plans the company has for you but it's been confidential until now.
- The Vice President has you in mind for some exciting and expanding responsibilities.
- Your raise was scheduled to go into effect next quarter, but we'll make it effective immediately.
- You're going to work for who?
When someone quits, it is often looked upon as a direct reflection on the boss. Unless you're really incompetent or a disruptive influence in the department, the boss might look "bad" by "allowing" you to leave. His first reaction will be to try to do whatever has to be done to keep you from leaving until he is ready. That's human nature.
Unfortunately it is also human nature to want to stay unless you work life is completely intolerable. Career change, like all ventures into the unknown, can be a difficult decision.
Before you succumb to a tempting counteroffer, consider these universal truths:
- Any situation in which an employee is forced to get an outside offer before the present employer will suggest a raise, promotion or better working conditions is suspect.
- No matter what the company says when making the counteroffer, you will always be considered a fidelity risk since you have already demonstrated your lack of loyalty to the company and will lose your status as a "team player."
- Counteroffers are usually nothing more than stall tactics to give your employer more time to replace you.
- Your reasons for leaving still exist. Conditions are made a bit more tolerable in the 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 or a raise?
If the urge to accept a counteroffer hits you, keep cleaning out your desk as you count your blessings. Satisfaction will only be short-lived and you will once again be faced with the situation that caused you to seek an outside offer in the first place.