Tough Love: 5 Reasons Why Managers Present You with Counteroffers

Women trying to decide what to do.

You were ready to leave. You even brought a box to start taking your personal items home.  But then, your soon-to-be-ex-boss stops you and asks you to step into their office. They tell you they can’t bear for you to leave so they present you with a counteroffer…and it sounds really, really good. What do you do?

Of course, counteroffers don’t exactly happen this way for every employee. Sometimes, you’re presented with higher pay or a change in title immediately after telling your manager that you’re planning to leave. Or sometimes, a plan is bestowed on you and you’re forced to make a quick decision. But you should stop to ask yourself this before accepting or declining a counteroffer: why did putting in your notice trigger the opportunity being presented to you?

Here is some tough love and five reasons why your employer may have presented you with a counteroffer:

It Will Take Time and Money to Replace You When You’re Gone

Hiring a new employee is costly. And, it takes time to find the right candidate, onboard and train them and get them up-to-speed in a role. Your manager may not have the time or desire to hire so it makes their life significantly easier if you stay. But think about it this way: leaving is an inconvenience for the company and it doesn’t necessarily mean they think you’re irreplaceable.

Your Manager Doesn’t Want to “Look Bad”

The fact that you’re leaving can send negative waves across your team. Your manager probably feels a loss of control and that can have an impact on performance, timelines, and the overall mood at the office. Plus, it can signal a warning to upper-management, putting extra sets of eyes on your manager’s performance.

It Gives Your Manager Time to Find Your Replacement

You’ve likely lost the trust of your employer when you put in your notice – although that wasn’t your intent. Here’s a scenario for you: The company is in a bind and they’re not sure how they’re going to finish that project on time now that you’re leaving. So, they succeed in convincing you to stay. While you’ve thrown yourself back into your work, they’ve started searching for your replacement: a relationship with someone new with whom no bridges have been burned. Once they find the right candidate, they let you go without any current prospects in sight.

Your Manager Didn’t Know You Were Unhappy

Maybe some of this is on you. Some employees are afraid to ask for things that are going to make them happier in their job: fixable things like a raise or a change in title. Did you exhaust all of your options when you were looking for reasons to stay? Or, perhaps there were things at your organization that you didn’t like and that can’t be easily changed like the culture or people. Either way, if your manager didn’t know you were unhappy, they may try to “fix it” with a counteroffer.

You’re Too Great of An Employee to Lose (But Probably Not)

Although you may feel you’re irreplaceable, your manager probably doesn’t think so. But there may be a way to know: did your manager or others at your company fight for you? You asked for those items now staring up at you from the front page of the counteroffer. Why did it take losing you in order to get what you wanted?

You may never know the answer to that question. But, take some advice from this statistic: “80% of people who have accepted a counter offer will not be at their current employer in six months and 93% will not be there in eighteen months’ time.” Those numbers speak for themselves.

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