The Counter Offer and Other Acts of Desperation

At one time or another, we’ve all heard stories about that dreaded counter offer. We’ve either worked next to the guy who stayed because he received a hefty pay increase or we’ve had to pick up the slack for the gal who laughed at their attempt to keep her and left for the new, immensely more glamorous, position. Even though these things are supposed to be confidential, word always gets out.

On one hand you have the employees who are beside themselves for not thinking of it first, but on the other, and probably the most detrimental, you have employees who see it for what it is: an act of desperation. Your weakness. You’ve tipped your hand that at the moment, you feel said employee is worth more than the rest, or at least that’s the message you’re sending. Truth? Does it matter? If perception really is reality, then we now have a problem on our hands.

The Counter Offer isn’t the only way companies scream desperation to their employees. The company who throws money at new hires? What’s that all about? If the economy supports a certain pay range for your position and a company throws money at you (in other words, it means hiring you in at a significantly higher salary then you are currently making), be sure to ask yourself the tough questions. Am I really worth this to them? What do I bring to the table that they SO want? Why is this position paying so much higher than my current one? Is this company successful? Why is this position open? And taking it further…..what is going on with this company that they need to pay SO much more for this position? It’s a desperate attempt to hire employees without examining, or revealing the issue or cause for concern.

The stories we hear around this topic can be heartbreaking. I remember one employee who was approached by a competitor and lured with promise of a pay increase of $7/hr. That’s almost a $15k annual increase. She had done nothing to warrant that increase (no further education/masters degree, management role, etc.) and looked it as a lucky break. I encouraged her to dig deeper, make sure the offer was a good one since her current position afforded her husband to stay home with the kids and paid for their medical benefits in their entirety, as well as flexibility and overtime pay. She chose to stay in her current role and three months later she read in the news that the company who tried to hire her was closing up shop and moving their facility to Tennessee. She chose wisely.

When companies honestly communicate their situation and their intentions during the interview or recruiting process, the fallout will be reduced dramatically. More than likely, the companies will end up hiring like minded individuals who just may even be able to help turn things around. I would much rather discuss the position for what it really is and not in a sugar coated, hope-they-don’t-figure-it-out sort of way. When you do the right thing in communicating your intentions, the right results will follow. Your employees, clients, and competitors will see you as a solid entity, and not as someone acting out of desperation.

A great vantage point, if you ask me.

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