Resigning: expect and beware the counter offer

Ten reasons why you shouldn’t let your persuasive employer change your mind when you resign:

Letter of resignation

Handing in your resignation is a big deal and potentially a time of heightened emotion, clouded thinking and impaired decision making.

Before you do so have a final think about why you got to this point and why you are accepting the other offer.  Write this down: having it in black and white will be helpful if you come under pressure to reverse your decision. This is as near as you can get to an objective, measured decision so it’s important to keep this front of mind.

Be fully prepared for push back when you resign: some employers have a policy of not counter offering or otherwise persuading people to remain. However, many others, aware they may be significantly inconvenienced or even commercially damaged by your departure, will not.

Also remember that in many cases they have much more experience of dealing with resignations than you do of resigning so that presents them with a distinct advantage in managing the situation.

Why does this matter?  If they end up offering you a better job or more money, it’s surely a win all round?

Not necessarily and here’s why:

1. The double cross

The sad fact is that often employers renege on their counter-offers after they’ve had time to look around for a replacement: which may also be a cheaper resource if they’ve been forced to up your salary.

2. Appreciation

The hypocrisy factor. Do you really want to stay with a firm that had to be blackmailed into recognising your worth?

3. Pressure to deliver

Can you back it up? Companies forced into salary hikes naturally expect increased performance, sales or productivity that may be beyond your ability to deliver or beyond the company’s ability to enable you to deliver.

4. Vulnerability

If there are subsequent redundancies you might well be the first to go: you could now be too expensive and clearly are no longer assumed to be loyal.

5. Being sidelined

Counter offers are often sideways ‘promotions’ that amount to nothing more than mouldering on the limb until it breaks off. The real promotions go to people who haven’t been naughty and threatened to resign.

6. Loss of trust

“After all we’ve been to each other”. Many bosses view resignations as gross disloyalty and things are never quite the same again.

7. Objectivity

You made your decision to resign with a calculated weighing up of the facts. Trying to do so with the flattery, emotional blackmail and other pressures in a counter offer will inevitably mean that making a rational decision is virtually impossible.

8. Delaying the inevitable

The same circumstances that caused you to consider a change will very probably repeat themselves in future if you accept a counter offer now. The reality is that most people who are “bought back” leave within 12 months anyway.

9. The bluff

Fish that didn’t get away. Acceptance of a counter offer very often leads to a perception that you were only fishing in the first place. This does your status no good with current or potential future employers or headhunters.

10. The power of persuasion

It would be surprising if they DIDN’T try to persuade a great employee to stay: and they have much more experience of handling resignations that you do of resigning. They are old hands and know what buttons to press to change your mind.