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Accept the Counteroffer ?

Accept the Counteroffer ?

Accept the Counteroffer ?

I have never accepted the counteroffer from any company I was leaving.  I have my own logic about this, but it may be deeply flawed.  I'm wondering how many of my peers have accepted the counteroffer and if they then stayed for a long term.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

I think it all depends on the nature of the situation.  If you are called up by another firm and offered a position, you have not done anything wrong by speaking to them, by visiting about the position and opportunities as they arise.  This is simply you taking advantage of a situation where you can calibrate what the market will offer you - options and choices are nice.

As a manager, I tell my staff that if you are presented with an offer, that I would appreciate the opportunity to work with them in charting the best course - both for them and our firm - a counteroffer is not necessarily an admission from the management that "Well, we guess we've been stingy and not paid you what you're really worth, so here's our offer to get you to stay".

Sometimes its more like:  "Setting salaries is a difficult process and market calibration can be helpful.  Let's revisit how we compensate you and see if we can at least remove the money issue from your staying or leaving."

If you are getting an offer and see that the other, non-financial, isssues are also very attractive  - this then requires you to compare the whole work conditions of employment for each firm and decide based on your personal priorities.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

Having left many jobs, money was never the primary motivator for looking for the new job.

Factors like growth potential, poor management, "writing on the wall", etc. always seem to be the triggers.

While it is usual, and nice to get a raise along with a change of job, if you really dislike your current job, you would probably take a new job for the same salary if you thought the other factors would make you happier.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

I'm afraid I have exactly the reaction that JAE mentions in the above post.  Only when I gave notice at several companies did they agree to entertain my concerns, monetary or otherwise.  I figured this was not to be a real solution at all, but only a short term band-aid to prevent them from suffering short term staffing difficulties.

I figure that they have been made aware of my concerns through yearly appraisals.  If I have to threaten to quit to effect change, there will be no real long term change.  I generally walk out the door and never look back.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

funnelguy - you're right - there are many cases in business where managers "use" their staff and are not especially concerned with mentoring or nurturing a good employer-employee relationship.

But there are cases where managers do sincerely struggle to set the right salary - very difficult - much more than I ever imagined....at least in a private consulting business venue.

If, as you say, they just react to only the threat of leaving, then perhaps you have the other condition.  But even then, the nature of business is to pull on the tug-o-war rope to maximize profits, up to the point the other guy pulls back hard.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

Funnelguy, you get my vote too.

In an ideal world (and we all know there ain't no such thing) management would pay you what you are worth.
Of course, the precept would have to be that they know what you are worth.

Management like to think that no one person is indispensible. How they value you is what you cost to recruit, not what you cost to replace, the replacement cost is always a surprise to them.

How do they factor in you years of experience? They don't. That's an extra hidden cost. Simple fact, the longer you are with a company, the more that your wage slips compared to market rates.

My rule is never accept the counter offer. They'l get that money back somehow.
If more people adopted this attitude management would have to take the issue seriously. However, engineers being engineers, that isn't likely to happen. We'll go on getting exploited.


RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

JMW - there is also the truth that the new firm making the offer is also jacking up the salary just to get you to jump ship - and then the next few years they keep your salary increases down until they "catch up".

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

Many years ago I read a book "You Can Get a Better Job" which discussed all aspects of job hunting including how to leave your current employer after accepting a new job with a different company.  The advice in this book was to "Beware the Counteroffer".

A hypothetical scenario described what might happen to a secretary who informs her current boss she is leaving for a higher paying position.  The boss feigns surprise that he has been underpaying her and promises to raise her salary immediately.

As soon as the secretary leaves the boss's office, he phones personel and tells them to start looking for the secretary's replacement.

I think anyone who accepts a counteroffer is putting themselves at great risk.  Even if your boss has convinced the people higher up you should get a raise, the higher-ups will be aware that you have considered leaving, and they will not want to be caught unprepared the next time you are recruited by another company.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

Just a note of clarification.

The book I refer to in the earlier post is:

"You Can Get a Better Job...
...and this book tells you how!"

by John Talbot Bryant published in 1974 by TMC Publishing. It's LC number is 74-78879.

I just did a net search and found a book with a similar title so I apologize if I caused any confusion.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

I have always told my Boss before accepting another Position. Once I either accept or reject the position, I always treat it as a final, non-revocable decision, and a counter offer is politely rejected. I do always tell them if I dont like my new job, I would entertain coming back if they want me. ( well, except those jobs I hated.....)
I base this on advice my Father gave me, he always said if you accept the counter offer, then they know they can buy you.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

I once had an employee (I'm both on the management side and on the production side of engineering) come to me somewhat distressed as he had been given quite a nice offer from a competitor.  This employee was a good engineer, who we had trained and mentored for some 4 to 5 years.

He told me what the offer was and that he was at a loss to know where to go.  

The funny thing was that I had been recently thinking about re-organizing my staff and this offer to him was timely.  I counter-offered, not to "buy him" but to keep a good engineer in whom the company had a great deal of investment.   I did not think less of him for coming to me, I did not intend to buy him off and then look for a replacement, I did not get angry that he had the gaul to even consider the offer.

I understood that setting salaries is an inexact science, that he, and he alone, had to look out for his own interest, and that our employment "contract" was a two-way street.  I countered - he accepted - and things went on.

Many of the above posts imply an on-going conflict and distrust between the manager and the employee - I realize this occurs.  But my point is that it doesn't have to be such an angry, distrustful event and there are good, sincere managers out there who want to, and will, work with their employees in an honest way.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

JAE, I think that the situation you describe rarely occurs.  

Much more common are situations described in another thread:

Recruiter tactics

jmw's March 22, 2004 post is particularly on target.

I would also suggest readers of this thread to check out:

Non-compete agreement, or termination!

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

I don't think that the situation JAE is all that rare.  Granted, they are a minority, but there are still good managers out there that realize that the welfare of their company hinges in part on the value they place on their employees.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

JAE, A star for that! I have generally found those that I like to work for do not get angry about other opportunities, so long as you do not approach them with wage hostage taking in mind.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

I'm afraid that the situation outlined by Lorentz is far more common in these challenging times.
What management giveth, especially under duress, management likes to taketh away again as soon as humanly (not humanely)possible. (the Lorentz contraction?)

Management may pursuade themselves that they are subtle but they are often very obvious. No one is folled and moral goes downwards, water-cooler meetings take on a new coolness.

JAE, you are more right in your April 9th post except that while it may be true of the new employee it is probably even more true of a retaining employer. Management protects all money as if it is their own.

We have it out in other threads, the great cover for all management actions is "shareholder interests". These are usually defined respective of short term cash flow, dividend and share value terms than in long term positions. Stock value is angable (and look how they like to keep that down) so if intellectual capital (that's the value of you and me) were at all tangible it woudl alarm them even more that year on year this value increases no matter what they do.


RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

Some of our differences in manager perception relating to this topic may have to do with the type and size of company involved.  I would guess (not sure) that smaller companies might be more in line with my perception of an aggreeable manager while a larger company might be more cutthroat.

My experience has been more in line with mid-sized consulting engineering firms (60 to 150 employees).  

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

JAE, you have just provided a most important clarification of your position.

Note that in my original post the "boss" regarded the "secretary" as nothing more than a commodity.  In this type of situation accepting a counteroffer is almost certain to be a disastrous mistake.

In most large companies, upper management ranks are mainly filled by salesman, accountants and lawyers.  These companies have significant expenses in capital equipment and wages for production line workers. The salaries of engineers are only a small part of the overall cost of producing and selling the company's product. And, to look at it from management's point of view, the work of the engineers is of little value until it is turned into a sellable product.  In this situation, the engineers are a commodity.

Now in a consulting firm, the efforts of the engineers are the final product you sell, so the engineers are more highly valued.  Plus, the ranks of management are usually filled by senior engineers.  In this situation, I can see where there is incentive to retain a valued employee, and for the employee to consult his manager before leaving.

For young engineers, look at the nature of your company and determine whether you are a "commodity" or a "valued employee" since this will have a great effect on how you decide to treat a counteroffer.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

As a particular situation-
You can as well go ahead and jump from Golden Gate bridge than accept a counter offer in a FAMILY BUSINESS.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

flame, from your last post and also the thread you started on this subject, I gather that you are profoundly unhappy with your current employment.

As you interview for a new job, keep in mind that you must not be critical of your current employer (or any past employers for that matter).  At best, this will let prospective new employers know that you are desparate to jump ship, so will lower the salary they offer you accordingly.  At worst, they might think that YOU have a problem, and may reject you just to be on the safe side.

And as a final note, I have seen some terrible things happen to non-family employees of a family-owned business, but I myself am currently in the best job of my career because I work for the owner of a small start-up company.  If he passes on the business to his children when he retires, I would be most happy to work for them and give them the loyalty I gave their father.  I feel a debt of gratitude to this man, and unless I am very wrong about his children, I would expect fair treatment from them as well.  So don't rule out working for another family-owned business just because of your bad experience with your current job.

Good Luck!

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?


I have quite a different experience.  I worked for one of the global Engineering/construction companies, and they treated the engineering staff like pure commodities.  They started outsourcing to "value" engineering center in Asia and Mexico, and began a program of lay-offs for US based engineers.  So in my experience being an employee of an "engineering company" is no protection against being perceived as a commodity.


RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

Hi Smartech:

It seems that the larger the company, the more likely engineers will be considered commodities.

Maybe you could land a job with a mid-sized firm like JAE's?

I think this is a very valuable thread, and I hope many more engineers will share their experiences.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

To my boss, I'm an asset.  To his boss, I'm overhead.

RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

To TheTick, and the rest, too....

THe same asset and overhead syndrome you mentioned seems to exist in the big company I work at as well.


RE: Accept the Counteroffer ?

Hi macguyver50:

As I read through this and other threads, it seems to me that engineers who work for large companies are often treated as marginal employees.  And my guess is that this becomes even worse if you work in an industry that is dominated by a few large companies.  Your employer knows that you don't have a lot of options.

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