Have you ever resigned from a position and had your boss try to get you to stay? I’ve been counter-offered better pay, better conditions, or better benefits in attempts to “keep me on board.” I’ve turned down every counter offer in the past and here are my reasons why:
1. At this point, I’ve made my current employer aware of my intentions to find another position. My boss now knew that I was unhappy long enough to search for, apply for, interview for, and accept a new position. I’m sure I didn’t make my frustrations known to him in a way that he took seriously. Now, with egg on his face, because he assumed I would never leave, my boss was in the unenviable position of having to scramble to keep me. If I had chosen to stay, he would have resented me and questioned my loyalty. Not only that, but taking a day off here and there would put me under his suspicion that I was interviewing again. Who wants to work under those conditions?
2. I would burn the bridge with my prospective new employer. If I had accepted the new offer, my new employer was expecting me to show up. My new employer had made announcements about me coming on board, had canceled open job notices and advertisements, and had arranged for training. In other cases, a new employer may have released the person you’re going to replace. If your new employer pulled the rug out from under YOU by rescinding the offer, how would you feel? Don’t pull the rug from under them.
3. When the time came to decide who would be considered for a promotion, my current employer would definitely remember who almost went to work elsewhere. Many times, bosses reward blind loyalty more than anything else. Who do YOU think would have gotten the next promotion or assigned the next big project? It wouldn’t have been me!
4. When the economy tanks, chances are that I would have been at the top of the list for personnel cutbacks. He already knew I was unhappy and didn’t really want to be there. Why would he keep me on the payroll when this would be his perfect chance to terminate me and it not look like revenge?
5. If I accepted the counter-offer, I would have been just a little trophy, bought with some pocket change. This would’ve been more than little blow to my pride. You may disagree, but I don’t want to work somewhere that I’m not valued properly.
6. Since this company had salary guidelines, it was possible that I just got my next raise. My raise after that would have probably disgusted me, but by then I would have burned a bridge, right? See #2 above. Not only that, but the bookkeeper was continually complaining about how much she was paid and she wrote the payroll checks for the entire company. I would never have heard the end of it.
7. There would have been a high likelihood that my boss would start looking for my replacement — at a cheaper price. No one should overestimate their own value to any organization. Virtually everyone can be replaced. My “new” value to my “old” company wouldn’t mean anything. It could mean that they were just passing time until they could replace me on their schedule.
8. Would anything have really changed? Was it ONLY the money that caused me to start looking for a better position? (no) Would getting a raise make me more willing to endure the circumstances that prompted me to accept a new position or would I just lie down, roll over, and take the little doggie biscuit?
9. Some statistics show that 75% to 90% of those who accept counter offers quit within six months anyway. . . or are terminated within one year. Why would I want to be in THAT position? Talk about going from the frying pan into the fire. A common investing rhyme is: The trend is your friend. In other words, look for trends up and stick with them or look for trends down and stay away. The trend on those accepting a counter-offer is down, down, down.
10. In my eyes, my value was established at the new company. They thought I was worth a lot more than my then current company. Why was I having to threaten to leave before I could get paid what I was worth? My co-workers knew I was leaving and it was actually fun hearing them discussing what they thought I was getting paid at the new company. If I had stayed because I accepted a counter-offer with more pay, I believe they would have ended up resenting me. People think of payroll as a zero sum game, if one person gets a huge raise, it means everyone else gets a small one. Whether it’s true or not does not matter. What people believe is what matters.
Additionally, my new company had found me through an executive recruiter and they were willing to pay many tens of thousands of dollars to have me on their team. My old company wouldn’t even give me a modest raise that was a fraction of that. Where was I really valued?
In my opinion, accepting a counter-offer is career suicide. Your boss is probably thinking that he or she will be blamed for your unhappiness and the much coveted annual bonus may now be in jeopardy. Desperation sinks in and you start hearing phrases like:
- I had no idea you were unhappy. Let’s sit down and discuss what we can do to alleviate your concerns and what we need to do to keep you on this team.
- The team needs you, I need you. We’re making good progress on [project name] and our budget looks really good. You’ll share in the credit for this success. Why would you throw this away now?
- You have no idea the promotion and raise I was already considering for you. Let’s talk about it before you make any rash decisions.
One phrase I heard was, “I have my vacation coming up in 6 weeks. Is there any way you could stay until I get back?” (True story)
My advice: stick with your plan. Make a list of everything that irks you and read it back to yourself before you go tell your boss that you’re giving a two week notice. I mean list every little thing. My list was 86 items long. But I still almost caved in. After all, he had that vacation planned for months! 8 to be exact … )