Responding to a Counter Offer:
Is the Counter Offer a reactive response or a sign of commitment?
A counter-offer is an offer from your current employer to rival the one you have received from your future employer, to convince you to stay. Counter-offers can take many forms. A straight increase in salary - usually to meet or beat your new offer - additional company benefits, a sought-after promotion or new job title, additional responsibility, a change in role, more involvement in meaty projects.
The golden rule of counter offers is that good employers will never offer them, and smart employees never accept them. There are many reasons for declining a counter offer:
You never want to advance your career through force.
If you have to solicit an offer and threaten to quit each time you want to get better treatment from your company, you're probably better off going to an employer who appreciates their human capital and rewards them appropriately.
You are perceived as a security risk and disloyal to the company.
After you have demonstrated yourself as disloyal by looking for opportunities outside the company, you will lose your status as a team player, and your motives will always be questioned.
Your employer is merely stalling for time
Usually, by counter offering, your current employer has bought himself or herself some time to look for a replacement or to make a transition on their own timetable. An illustration of this is a 1988 Boyden International study published in the CPA Client Bulletin. The study tracked 450 managers who had changed jobs during the previous three years. Thirty-nine of the 450 received counter offers, of which 27 accepted the counter with their current employer. Only two of the 27 were still with their original employer after a year and a half. This means that 25 of the 27 either quit or were fired during those eighteen months.
Is it a show of commitment? Not really. . .
Look at the logic behind the counter-offer. Of course, what we would like to do is accept it as flattery, a sign of our unrivaled importance and value to our employer, a definite signal that they'll stretch to serious lengths to keep you. However, your employer may have other reasons for counter-offering you. These may include:
Replacing an employee can be expensive
It might mess up their budget to re-recruit that time of year
They haven't got time to re-recruit right now
They want to have you cover while they hunt for your replacement
They want you to finish the project you are working on
They don't have the time to train someone new at the moment
Losing staff might reflect badly on your boss
There is rarely a good reason to accept a counter-offer and stay where you are. You wanted to move, you've been through the recruitment process, you've been successful and you have scored a job that meets your criteria. Think about these factors:
From the day of your resignation, your loyalty will always be in question
This lack of loyalty is likely to be an obstacle to future promotions
Your colleagues will look at you differently - after all, you don't really want to be there do you?
Your boss will probably start casting around for your replacement immediately - whether you stay or not
Why are they offering you what you deserve now, rather than before your resignation?
Has the real reason you resigned been adequately addressed?
How guilty do you really feel? After all, shouldn't you be putting yourself first?
Would the company think twice about getting shot of you if the chips were down?
If it seems as if you are walking into a counter offer situation (i.e.: your exit interview is suddenly scheduled with a senior executive, when they are typically handled by human resources), you need to take command as soon as you have evidence that the conversation is heading toward a counteroffer. Politely interrupt with a statement such as "The last thing that I want to be inferred from my resignation is that I am trying to blackmail the company into keeping me. After doing my own thorough investigation, I've simply found a situation that I can't pass up. I hope you respect that." You may also want to again offer any help you may be able to provide to ensure a smooth transition before your departure. Don't let an unexpected counter-offer stop you in your tracks. Take it in your stride, thank your employer for the opportunity and reaffirm your intention to leave. Stand your ground.
On Accepting a Counter Offer
So you decide to stay. Be on your toes. Don't be naive. Just because you've accepted your counter offer doesn't mean your resignation has been forgotten. You are going to have to work extremely hard to win back your employer's trust. You'll probably find you have to strive harder than your colleagues to prove your company loyalty and worthiness as a long-term prospect. Your new post-resignation life with your old company is not going to be easy. And accepting a counter offer is definitely not the safe option.