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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  Oh, So Now You Love Me?!!?

Oh, So Now You Love Me?!!?

Posted on April 16, 2008 and read 8,408 times

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Recently I presented what I thought was an overly generous offer to a young creative team who, I felt, were capitalizing on the current dearth of talent to artificially inflate their salaries. That said, the sun was shining at this point in their lives, so a bit of over-zealous haymaking was to be expected, even applauded. And so it was like a visit from a persistent relative when the aforementioned team reluctantly broke the news to me that they had accepted a counteroffer from their current employer and were going to pass on the generous offer that I had secured for them.

Was this a surprise? Not exactly.
After all, I have spent twenty-two years in the advertising business, on every side of the hiring table – as the hired, the hirer and now as the broker. I have seen this sort of thing happen often enough that I had thought ahead and laid down, in the weeks leading up to this moment, what I thought was a sufficient preemptive defense. So what was it exactly that caught me off guard? Hmmm. Oh yeah, I know! It was the sadly predictable triumph of ego over common sense that makes this such a sad story with an even sadder, more predictable ending.
If your brain has not already raced ahead to the obvious conclusion of this banal tale of woe, consider these tidbits the next time you are presented a counteroffer:

1. You should not be negotiating unless you are ready to follow through. No one likes a tease, and this is a very small and talkative community. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with exploring alternate opportunities, seeing who and what is out there, and using that information to reassess your present situation. But at some point, you have to stop shopping if you’re not willing to buy. And that point is the negotiation table. Don’t sit down unless you are prepared to accept an offer.

2. A counteroffer was only made because you resigned. It is a purely reactive tactic from employers and should make you wonder whether you need to resign every time you want to improve your situation. If so, is this really the place you want to be?

3. A counteroffer rarely, if ever, addresses the original reasons for wanting to leave, which are usually job quality issues and not money. Even when it does, these commitments are rarely quantified in significant, measurable ways.

4. By accepting a counteroffer, you have now declared yourself at worst disloyal and at best a flight risk, and your employer is undoubtedly making a contingency plan for your replacement that will most likely be executed without the pleasure of your consent. You have just gone from loyal team member to overpriced hired gun, because you have let it become about money, even though it started out as something far more meaningful.

So now you have accepted the counteroffer, where do you go from here? Do you really believe that you have laid the groundwork for the elusive happiness that started this whole ball rolling in the first place? Do really believe that a bit of old-fashioned extortion is the key to a strong, renewed bond between yourself and your company? No?

Well, you’re not alone.
In fact, a study done recently by the Wall Street Journal shows that over half of employees who receive counteroffers accept them. What happens to them? The three-year study found that 93% of employees who accepted counteroffers were no longer with their companies after eighteen months, and that all of the remaining 7% were actively seeking new employment.
Two important points become apparent:

1. Salary was rarely the motivation behind moving in the first place, and thus it makes little difference to any sustainable increase in job satisfaction.

2. Things don’t take long to return to the same state that precipitated the original resignation.

So before you say yes to that tempting dollop of extra cash that comes without any need to pack up the contents of your desk into a filing box and trundle across town, ask yourself if the extra money and empty promises would have kept you out of my office had they been offered to you a few months previous, and ask your employer why they had to wait until now to realize just how much they love you. Employees, it is your responsibility to make sure that you have the best possible job you can get for yourself and employers, it is your responsibility to make your company the home of that job.

If you’re wondering what happened to that ill-fated team who inspired this cautionary tale, I can assure you that their story ended just as you imagined it to, perhaps a bit worse. Less than a month passed before I received the inevitable call informing me that other than money, things had not changed in any of the meaningful ways promised, and was that original opportunity still available. Sadly it was not, and even if it had been, hell hath no fury like a potential employer scorned.

Once you close that door, you will find that not only will it usually never open again, but other nearby doors may close as well, if they overhear the commotion.

Michael Scher
BLACK BAG talent attraction + acquisition




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