…Why Counteroffers Don’t Work

If your company really recognizes your worth, they would’ve given you the added income, advancement, title, whatever…. without the necessity of you “blackmailing” them by finding another job and threatening to quit. Why did you have to go to all the trouble to go out and look for another job just to get a better salary or promotion from a prospective new employer…. who doesn’t even know you?

If you accept the counteroffer, you will, more often than not, be looked upon as a person who was disloyal and blackmailed management or the company into giving you what you wanted. You are no longer trusted.

When the next salary reviews come around, you will already have received yours and you will be bypassed.

The reason that you were made a counteroffer is because, at that moment, they needed you worse than you needed them. When this situation is rectified (and notice, I said “when,” not “if”) and you no longer have them over a barrel, your position in the company will not be very strong. “Turnabout” is fair play, and as soon as the chance comes for them to do to you what you tried to do to them, they’ll do it. They will keep you long enough to find your replacement.

In essence, you are firing your company. No one likes to be fired. So, they’re going to do what any “fired” person would do: hang on until they can rectify the situation.   This means finding your replacement so this will not happen again.

Good companies, (well-managed companies), don’t buy people back. They know that emotionally and mentally you have left….. so you might as well leave it physically. The only kind of company that will “buy you back” is the kind of company that will take advantage of you somewhere down the line. After all, they weren’t smart enough to keep you from having to look for a job; they probably won’t be smart enough to keep you satisfied.

It is cheaper for a company to try to make you a counteroffer than it is to replace you. Whatever immediate raise they may have to give you, they would also have to give someone else. But the time and the cost of someone doing your job after you leave, until a replacement can be found — the cost of finding a replacement and the time it would take to do it, and to train them once they are there — all add up. And the total is greater than whatever raise they would have to give you. It is simply cheaper to try to keep you.

Money and title are temporary. If the major complaint about your job has to do with money, when the money changes, you’ll only be temporarily content.  Most of the time — even after a counteroffer — your job, the company, the personalities, etc., are not any different than they were before.  Nothing has really changed.   A few cosmetic things regarding you have been adjusted, but they rarely make a long-term difference. After the “glow”of importance of the money or title wears off, you are right back where you were before.

The emotion of the moment of all of a sudden being made to feel special overrides the logical, common sense that forced you to go out and look for a job. Once you tell your superiors that you’re leaving, in order to get you to stay, they have to make you feel this way. After a few weeks, or a month, the euphoria of being special goes away and you’ll come to your senses recognizing that nothing has changed.

The “trust” relationship that you had with your employer is no longer there. We are not “all in this together” anymore. Any doubts about your past performance that were “overlooked” because you were, once upon a time, a “team player” will be more accentuated from now on. Every mistake you make will be magnified. Promotion? Well, think about it.  Would you promote a “blackmailer?”

The fact that you can’t be trusted anymore affects everyone you work with. You held management’s feet to the fire, you blackmailed them and, what’s worse, everyone in the company knows it. You don’t think they do, but they do. No matter how “confidential” you think your counteroffer negotiations were, they aren’t. In fact, word gets around really fast, and not only are you now distrusted by your management, but all of your peers and subordinates are irritated or downright mad that you got something they didn’t. The longer you stay, the more resentment there is by everyone: your superiors, your peers and your subordinates. You have intentionally isolated yourself and no one really appreciates you. In fact, they are downright jealous.

You caught management with their “pants down.” Most likely, they had no idea this was coming. Your immediate supervisor may wind up looking like a “dufus” for losing another employee. His or her butt might be on the line.   If it gets out why you are leaving, it might be your superiors’ “kiss of death.”  So, they’re going to do whatever they can to keep you so that they can “buy time” and find a replacement.

Your leaving is going to cause other people to have to “cover” for you. Your supervisor and his company, (i.e., your company) at least for a while, are going to put “their finger in the dike” to keep you around simply because other people are going to have to take up your slack if you leave. But when they get a chance, they’re going to replace you.

Losing any employee never comes at a “good time.” Your immediate supervisor is likely to say, “How could you do this now? It couldn’t come at a worse time?” Your ego will be stroked and fed simply to buy time for your manager to “recover” by replacing you.

The world is motivated by self-interest. Your immediate supervisor is interested in his or her “self.” Nobody wants to “look bad.”  If you’re leaving makes your supervisor look bad, he or she is going to do anything, at least for a while, to look good by keeping you.  Since he or she doesn’t want to look bad by your trying to leave again, they’re going to look good by finding a replacement and then firing you.   Their sudden interest in your concerns about the company, and reasons for leaving, are simply self-motivated.

The higher level of a position that you have, the more likely you are to be “counter-offered” by more than one person in the organization. I’ve had candidates that, once they give their resignation notice, are literally “escorted” from manager to manager throughout the company to convince the candidate to stay. I’ve even had a few candidates, in situations like this, be called by the CEO and told what an asset they were to the company.   Often times, this is the first or second time that the candidate has ever heard from the CEO.   Does that tell you anything?

Be prepared, when you go in to resign, to receive a counteroffer.   Be graceful, be kind, and be smart.   Put your ego aside and follow good common sense.   Tell the people that make you a counteroffer that you really appreciate their offer, but that you have made up your mind and you are going to leave.   No matter how tempting it is, never accept a counteroffer. 


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