Should I stay or should I go?

The topic of counter offers is an interesting one. I am sure you have seen articles and thoughts about the subject and they are usually one person’s perspective on the topic. For a somewhat different approach, we’ve reached out to people in our network to gain their thoughts and perspective on the topic.

We asked:

You have just received an offer to join a new firm. You are giving notice to leave your current position and your employer makes a “counter offer” to keep you from leaving. You start to think about whether or not to take that “counter offer.”

Why would taking a counter offer can cost you more in the long run?

If I know someone is looking to leave or has done that already, I might offer them a counter to stay if the engagement they are currently working on would be hit hard by their departure, but I can guarantee that I will remedy that situation as quickly as I can by making sure that others are up to speed on tasks this person is doing and that multiple people in the organization have a comparable skill set.

This person would not likely get extra consideration (at least in the short-term) regarding training or new project work, etc. as I am still fully expecting them to leave at some point in the future.  The reason they started looking to begin with was likely not related to money, but rather something that more money won’t fix in the long term.  People can “stand” a lot of stuff when the money is good, but all of the things that caused them to look will likely still be there and sooner rather than later those same issues will bubble back to the top.

Now they have just one less company to get a job with because they burned that bridge.

I would rather have someone leave and want to come back because the “grass wasn’t greener” then offer a counter.

In the one case where I did that, it only took the person about 3 months before they were back in my office resigning again…but this time we were prepared and wished them well.

                                                Mark Anzmann, Executive Vice President, SYSCOM, Inc.

One persons perspective:

Why to Accept an Counter Offer

– Your reasons for contemplating a move are clearly understood by your firm

– Your reasons for contemplating a move are respected by your firm

– The firm has come to the table with the right terms to make you want to remain

– You prefer to stay, have not checked out mentally, and believe you have long-term opportunity

Why Not to Accept

– The firm doesn’t clearly understand why you are entertaining a move but throw $$ at it

– The firm grudgingly admits to your contributions knowing they will have something to lose, but still not truly valuing / respecting you

– You have burned some bridges along the way with people that matter – that never ends well

– You are mentally checked out and not happy with the firm, role, your boss, etc. regardless of the $$

                                                                                    Bill Beck,, Client Partner, Conduent

I’ve been in that situation years ago and also recently, but this time as the jilted hiring manager.  Here are my thoughts as to why accepting a counter-offer is generally a bad move.  For the employee to seriously pursue the new job, one or both of two things must almost always be true:  1) The new job must be really good in ways that are important to the employee, or 2) There must be something significantly wrong with some aspect of the old job.  So to give up one or both advantages by reversing course and accepting the counter-offer is logically a negative for the employee and must be at a minimum offset by something positive.

The easiest scenario to imagine is that pay was the problem with the old job, that the new job would have cured it, but the counter-offer now also cures it.  There are two reasons why the employee doesn’t want to go there: First, do you want to be working for a company that knows they’ve been underpaying you (which they acknowledge by making the counter-offer) and wouldn’t fix it until you threatened to walk?  Will you have to keep doing that every year?  And second, now the old employer feels that you are being paid too much, which will surely have a dampening effect on future raises.

Or suppose the problem is non-cash, something like the employee wants to work from home or needs flexible hours and the old employer says no but the new employer is fine with it.  If the old employer gives in and agrees, human nature says they will hold that against the employee.

An analogy in this political season would be the politician who makes a lot of promises around election time, and the voters wonder, “Gee, you’ve been in office for four years now and you haven’t done any of this for me.  Why did it take you so long to start talking about it now.”

Almost always best to be sure you want to leave the old, and know why, before searching for the new.

       Hack Heyward,  Partner and Practice Lead – Energy, ISG

 

We hope you find these perspectives interesting. If you would like to share your thoughts on this for future blogs, please let me know.

Larry Janis, Managing Partner, ISSG, janis@issg.net

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