Volume 46: Beware of Counter Offers

RoyA long-time neighbor and good friend walks into your home and asks you to borrow your truck. They need to move something that afternoon. You want to do right by your friend, you’ve lived side by side for ten years, but unfortunately, you’ve already promised your truck to the neighbor on the other side, so that he can move sod and landscaping materials before the summer gets too hot.

You politely tell him he can’t borrow it that afternoon, but if it can wait until another afternoon, you should be able to help.

Your friend leaves frustrated, but comes back shortly after, points a gun at you and asks for your keys again.

Most of us probably give him the keys.

Regardless of how it turns out, are you ever going to trust that guy again, though? You told him you couldn’t do it then for legitimate reason, but he came in and pulled a gun on you! Your relationship is permanently scarred by that.

And this is why people should Beware of Counteroffers.

You’ve worked for a company for a long time, but haven’t received the promotion that you’ve been looking for, or your raises haven’t brought you to make what you think you’re worth. You’re understaffed, so you’re pulling extra shifts. You’re frustrated.

You talk to your Manager about it, but there’s always some reason it can’t be done then. Just hold on, they often say. There’s not room in the budget right now for a raise or another employee, they’ll hire someone eventually, though!

So, when an old friend tells you that his company is hiring, or you see a job posting on LinkedIn that looks promising, you apply! You go through the interview process and are extended an offer.

It’s the position you’ve wanted, and it puts you one step closer to the compensation you’ve been looking for. With bonus, you should be there!

So, you go back to your manager and give him two week notice. You let him know that you’ve been offered by another company what this company won’t or can’t move him to.

The facility can’t afford to lose a good supervisor, they’re already understaffed, so the manager asks what he can do to keep you on board. You remind him the things you’ve been asking for all along, and he comes back later that day and offers you the title you’ve been asking for, and a raise.  He might even promise to hire another person so that you don’t have to work as many extra shifts anymore.

Great, you think. All of this and you don’t even have to fill out another W-4 or I-9!

But, you’ve just done the career equivalent of holding a gun to your manager’s head, and there’s almost never a good way to come back from that.

Sure, your manager seems to move on from it. He understands that your decision to interview elsewhere wasn’t personal, it was just business.  But is he ever really going to trust you again?

And it’s not just the manager that you’ve betrayed. What about the Maintenance Manager that is being told he has to make due with the aging tools he has, because the money for new tools just went into your raise?

On top of the issue of trust, most of the time, money isn’t the only reason people find themselves looking for a new job. There are usually other frustrations as well.

Those extra shifts don’t become any less exhausting because you’re making an extra few bucks per paycheck. And sure, your manager promised he’d hire another employee to fill the gap, but he’s been saying they’d get to it eventually the whole time.

Those school plays and soccer games you have missed and will continue to miss because you’re working those extra shifts don’t come back just because you received a new title.

Bottom Line:

Counteroffers are a gamble with long odds for both sides of the equation.
The company is never going to be sure how long an employee will be committed to being there after they have to convince you to stay with a counteroffer (with the proverbial gun to their head).

The employee is gambling that the company will make the changes they promised, which isn’t always possible in any kind of timely fashion.

So, my advice after 32 years in this business is: unless it really is just about the money,  (and most of the time, even then,) avoid counteroffers whenever possible. It’s too big a gamble to take with your family’s livelihood.

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