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How to Handle a Counter Offer

02.12.2015

How to Handle a Counter Offer

What to consider when faced with a counter offer and how to plan ahead so you can avoid the situation.

Picture the scene. You’ve decided you need a new challenge and invested months of time and energy into searching for the perfect opportunity. You think you’ve finally found it and, after applying and going through the interview process, you’re delighted to be offered the job.

You go into work to have the awkward conversation with your boss, but suddenly it becomes even more difficult.

Rather than accepting your resignation, they say: “We’re shocked you’re unhappy. You’re really important to us and we’ve got big plans. We’ve already been thinking about promotion and a pay rise, so why don’t we bring these forward and you can stay?”

It’s the recognition and progression you’ve been craving, not to mention more money and extremely flattering at a time when your head is full of different emotions.

So what do you do next; cast aside the doubts and stick with what you know, or take a chance on the new organisation?

Well the first thing you need to understand is that research suggests the average person who accepts a counter offer stays with that business for less than one year. In reality, it rarely ends well for the employee.

It’s very satisfying to have an employer fight to keep you, but unless your move is purely money motivated, try not to be overwhelmed when you make your decision.

Don’t forget the reasons you wanted to leave are still there, they probably just seem easier to accept because of your new deal.

Whether you believe it or not, nobody is irreplaceable and your boss thinks this too. In all likelihood, they just don’t want to deal with the problem right now.

From the day you hand in your notice you may no longer be considered part of the company’s trusted employees. Your relationship could change to one that is financially led, which is not a healthy place to be.

Don’t get me wrong, there are exceptions, but in my experience when you say ‘I quit’, the first thing that goes through your manager’s mind is: ‘This is the worst time for me to lose a good team member. We’re too busy, I wonder if I can convince them to stay until I work out a plan.’

From that moment on you’re no longer seen as being on board with the vision of the business and, as a result, future opportunities can become scarce.

Now I know what you’re thinking when a recruitment expert suggests you shouldn’t accept a counter offer, but I’ve seen a lot of people stay with the right intentions only to resume searching for a job, like the one they reneged on, six months later.

In my opinion integrity is a crucial characteristic for every successful team, so perhaps a better approach is to negate this situation from happening in the first place.

Why not talk to your employer before you begin to look around. You have nothing to lose by expressing a desire to move your career forward.

If you’re unsure how to do this, try asking for some career advice. See if your manager can help you to understand where you’re heading and what might be coming up in the future.

Make sure to let them know you are happy but want a long-term plan.

This kind of conversation may seem scary but, if you’re good at what you do and have a positive attitude, it will be a breath of fresh air to your employer.

Following the discussion, if you’re still not satisfied it may be time to make a change, but this way when you submit your resignation, both parties will already know a counter offer won’t persuade you to change your mind. This will leave you to focus on a smooth transition which will only go to enhance your reputation and reflect positively on you.

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