Mak­ing a counter-of­fer to a re­sign­ing em­ployee

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One of my hard­work­ing su­per­vi­sors has sub­mit­ted a res­ig­na­tion to ac­cept a lu­cra­tive job of­fer as a depart­ment man­ager in a ma­jor com­pany. He has been with us since ten years ago and is al­ready ripe to as­sume a higher po­si­tion in the fol­low­ing months. Is it a good idea to make a counter-of­fer so that he will not leave us? — Yel­low Bell.

An el­derly man lived alone near a play­ground. Some chil­dren would of­ten play basketball ev­ery af­ter­noon while the old man was try­ing to sleep, and he was dis­turbed by by the noise, in­clud­ing the ball re­bound­ing off his win­dow.

The old man of­fered to pay them P100 daily for their post- game re­fresh­ments on con­di­tion that they play much louder than be­fore. The wilder, the bet­ter. He said laugh­ter and horse-play­ing re­minded him of youth. Af­ter three days of wild basketball, he re­duced their daily al­lowance to P50 claim­ing that’s the only amount he can af­ford. A day later, he of­fered to give them only P20. One day, he an­nounced that he can no longer af­ford to give them money.

Feel­ing cheated, the kids never played wild basketball again, to pres­sure the old man into restor­ing their al­lowance.

No mat­ter how good your em­ployee salary and ben­e­fit pack­age is, there will al­ways be added pres­sure for the or­ga­ni­za­tion to do just a bit more, no mat­ter how un­rea­son­able the de­mands. Things can come as a shock — imag­ine sit­ting com­fort­ably in your of­fice only to learn of the res­ig­na­tion of a val­ued em­ployee.


Would you make a counter-of­fer to pos­si­bly re­verse the res­ig­na­tion?

It’s a dilemma. But let me tell you this straight — don’t make that mis­take! The em­ployee has al­ready re­signed and it’s not wise to make a counter-of­fer. Here are the rea­sons why you should not prevent any worker from re­sign­ing: One, mak­ing a counter-of­fer sets a bad prece­dent. It may em­bolden other peo­ple to do the same, in the hope of get­ting what they want. The only thing that you can do as soon as you re­ceive a res­ig­na­tion let­ter is to ad­vise the em­ployee to think it over. Give him more time to re­flect on his de­ci­sion. But never en­cour­age any false ex­pec­ta­tion of a bet­ter of­fer.

Two , you failed to an­tic­i­pate his next move. It’s your fault. So why make amends by of­fer­ing a new pack­age? A counter- of­fer is an ad­mis­sion that you’ve been neg­li­gent in help­ing the em­ployee suc­ceed. If you’ve failed in that cat­e­gory, what makes you think you can solve the sit­u­a­tion by mak­ing a counter-of­fer? Three, a ca­sual “stay in­ter­view”

is bet­ter than an exit in­ter­view. A “stay in­ter­view” is a proac­tive ap­proach that will help you take the pulse of each and ev­ery em­ployee long be­fore they file a res­ig­na­tion. In­stead of the exit in­ter­view, you’re bet­ter off ask­ing em­ploy­ees ques­tions like: How can I help you suc­ceed in this or­ga­ni­za­tion? What are the things you need to help you fast- track your ca­reer goals?

Four, a de­ter­mined em­ployee will leave, no mat­ter what you do. Only the em­ployee can de­cide what’s best for him, his ca­reer, and his fam­ily. There’s no point in mak­ing a counter-of­fer. Sure, there are many points you can in­voke, such as any se­nior­ity rights the worker may have ac­cu­mu­lated or other ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties. Just the same, it is only the em­ployee who can de­cide if these things are im­por­tant to him.

Last, leave the door open for fu­ture col­lab­o­ra­tion and co­op­er­a­tion.

Don’t burn the bridge. In­stead, pave the way for some busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties be­tween your or­ga­ni­za­tion and the re­signed em­ployee’s new em­ployer. How­ever, ev­ery step of the way, never hint that the re­signed em­ployee can go back any­time when things go wrong with his new em­ployer. This would be un­fair to those who have cho­sen to re­main loyal to your com­pany.


When some­body re­signs from your or­ga­ni­za­tion, it means that per­son has care­fully weighed the pros and cons of his de­ci­sion. There’s no point in in­ter­fer­ing with that de­ci­sion. You can’t do much, any­way. In­stead, fo­cus your at­ten­tion on those peo­ple who have de­cided to stick it out with you. The best thing you can do is to pro­mote some­one from within to re­place your re­signed em­ployee.

Pro­mo­tion from within is an ad­mirable man­age­ment pol­icy that you should ad­vo­cate and fol­low strictly. Don’t even think of hir­ing an ex­ter­nal can­di­date un­less ex­tremely nec­es­sary. Oth­er­wise, ex­ter­nal hir­ing may pro­voke disgruntle­d peo­ple into re­sign­ing. Be­sides, it would ex­pose your neg­li­gence in pre­par­ing a suc­ces­sion plan, which in­cludes giv­ing peo­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to train and per­form chal­leng­ing tasks.

To avoid com­pound­ing the prob­lem, dis­cover how you can stem the tide of res­ig­na­tions by con­duct­ing pe­ri­odic, in­di­vid­ual “stay in­ter­views” with your em­ploy­ees. The more of­ten you in­ter­act with peo­ple, the greater the like­li­hood of an­tic­i­pat­ing any res­ig­na­tions.

ELBONOMICS: The best things in life are not ma­te­rial things.

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