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:
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 are 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.
Since all signs point to trouble by accepting a counter offer, we will now cover some of the ways to avoid a counter offer situation:
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 counter offer. 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 not pass up. I hope you can 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.
Many times, an experienced manager will try to use emotional tactics to keep an employee from leaving the company. They know how to push the right buttons to try to turn the situation to their advantage. Be very wary of the following statements from managers:
“I thought you were happy here. I’m shocked that you would try to leave us before bringing any concerns you have about your position to me.”
“We’ve been planning some things for you, but they have been confidential up to now. You should at least talk to the VP about them before making up your mind.”
“Your raise was set to go in effect next quarter, but we can make it effective sooner if it means you’ll stay.”
Throughout this process, the search consultant is always there to help walk you through any difficult scenarios. They are familiar with these situations and can offer advice on the best way to extract yourself without damaging your career or reputation.