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Beware of Counter-Offers

 

They may beg you to stay now, then give you the boot later!

Remember if you accept, it is a form of blackmail, like it or not.

 

By R Gaines Baty

You’ve been approached by another 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 known as a counteroffer of buy back.

 

But while buy back offers can be tempting, take care not to fall into the trap or be blind sided 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 buy back gestures can create confusion and buyer’s remorse, you should understand what’s 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.
  • What did they offer, why are you leaving, and what do you need to stay?
  • Why would you want to work for that company?

 

Counters usually take the form of:

  • More money
  • A promotion/more responsibility
  • Promises or future considerations,
  • Disparaging remarks about the new company or job, and/or
  • Guilt trips.

 

The reality is that employers don’t like to be “fired.” 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 staffers’ 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 slightly higher salary. And it would be better to fire you later, on the company’s time frame.

Accepting a counteroffer can have numerous negative consequences. Consider:

 

  • Where did the additional money or responsibility you’d get come from? Was it your next raise or promotion – just given early? Will you be limited in the future? Will you have to threaten to quit to get your next raise? Might a (cheaper) replacement be sought out?
  • You’ve demonstrated your unhappiness (or lack of blind loyalty), and will be perceived as having committed blackmail to gain a raise. You won’t ever be considered a team player again. Many employers will hold a grudge at the next review period, and you may be placed at the top of the next reduction-in-force “hit list.” As one executive who requested anonymity says, “Like an adulterous affair that’s been discovered, the broken trust is never fully recovered.”
  • Apart from a short-term, band-aid treatment, nothing will change within the company. After the dust settles from this upheaval, you’ll be in the same old rut.

 

A rule of thumb among recruiters is that more than 80% of those accepting counteroffers leave, or are terminated, within six to 12 months anyway. Half of those who do succumb reinitiate their job searches within 90 days.

 

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