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03/22/2004: "and out of the blue..."

Normally I would never post something on Monday, simply to allow my main weekly article to have the spotlight at the top of the page for at least a day. But when I come out of a meeting that has made my hands shake and my whole body quiver, I know that it's something I have to post, even if just to document it and help me think it through. It's something I have never had happen to me before, and this is the last place I would expect it to occur, but it did: a counteroffer.

Counteroffers only happen to people that are real star performers, the cornerstones of business, or those that are in such high demand that they can do ridiculous things like demand a desk made out of Lego, right? Well, turns out that in my boss' view, I'm a potential star performer. That alone is a surprise, but this counteroffer truly has me floored, and I'm literally quivering with nervous energy.

This just goes to show that communication is the foundation on which all business must be based. My salary here is what I consider to be relatively low, as it falls under the 1st decile for my level of responsibilities in my profession. As it turns out, my boss knows this about my remuneration (along with others' in my department), and thus he has been asking for a salary increase for us. Well, had I known that, I may have decided to wait it out for decent pay, but now I have the uncomfortable task of making my decision all over again.

My boss didn't stop there, either. He said that should I stay, in 5-10 years time I could be in a very senior position within the company, and with a six-figure salary to back that up. Knowledge, in this case, is money, and as I increase my knowledge of our products, industry, and processes I thereby become more and more valuable to them. Of course, 5-10 years from now is still a long way off, and a six-figure salary is really just a distracting dangling carrot. What I'm being asked to do is consider where I will be in 5-10 years at my new job, and compare that to where I could be here in that same time frame.

The only part of this counteroffer interview that I found distasteful was my boss trying to show me that this company is both more interesting and stable than the one I'm going to. That's a hard sell coming from a company that hasn't made a profit in 5 years, especially compared to one that has expanded exponentially over the past 5, with profit to match. I seriously doubt that he was being malicious, but as his knowledge of my new company comes pretty much entirely from what I told him about it, and his assessement of their product lines and thereby their market, I can't really put much faith in it. Especially as I'm not able to tell him what products are yet to come at my new company, which will do nothing short of blowing the doors off their current industry image.

I have until Wednesday to give him an answer. All he's really been able to offer me is matching the salary I've been offered at my new job, and the prospect of significant increases in responsibility, level, and salary over the next 5-10 years. I have a feeling that my decision will not change, but I'm going to honour his request that I think about it. Meanwhile, I'm going to try and stop shaking.

Replies: 14 Comments

on Monday, March 22nd, mr.ska said

Just do a Google search for "counteroffer" and you'll see exactly what the views on counteroffers are. In two words, "lose-lose". Those widely unanimous opinions, the past few hours to think about things, and a good chat with Hat Daddy and xhead later, and I'm very much inclined to dismiss their counteroffer and leave.

The only reason I'm not being definitive on the subject is because I have yet to discuss it fully with my wife (although she has been informed). I have very little doubt, however, that she'll think I should stay.

Well, chalk up one more life experience I can say I've had. I'll break it to my boss tomorrow.

on Monday, March 22nd, mr.ska said

I forgot to mention that when my boss mentioned that he was looking for more money for salaries for certain employees, he mentioned that if I left that money could be used for salary increases throughout the department. So now I'm thinking that I really must leave and at least allow the people still working here the benefit of my absence.

Boy, who'd have thought that quitting a job would become so... intricate!

on Monday, March 22nd, xhead said

"I have very little doubt, however, that she'll think I should stay."

Um, I read that as you think your wife will want you to stay where you are.

Is that what you mean?


(you + wife) > (xhead + hat daddy) * 10

on Monday, March 22nd, xhead said

oh, and...

wife > (you * 10)

on Monday, March 22nd, mr.ska said

What I meant to have written is that my wife will likely encourage me to stay my course, quit my current job, and head to the new one. I think I meant to write, "I doubt, however, that she'll think I should stay." Or something to that effect.

Are you calling my wife fat? 8-D ;)

on Monday, March 22nd, xhead said

Fat, NO! Expecting, yes!

My sage advice for new parents (don't get stuck in the recursion):

"Amid all the advice people give you, trust your own instincts the most."

And: "Contradict your wife's instincts at your peril."

on Monday, March 22nd, xhead said

And I know you're not new parents...

on Tuesday, March 23rd, mr.ska said

Well, I talked to my boss and told him that I'm not staying. He didn't seem happy about it, but did say that he wishes me success. I didn't get to tell him that matching the salary I've been offered isn't exactly a very tempting offer, but he can figure that out for himself.

Now that I've told him, he just took my supervisor into our conference room and closed the door. So now the bad news will spread. I guess I should wait until next week before I ask a few key people for a letter of reference and allow them to digest what's going on.

Only nine and a half more work days until I'm outta here!

on Tuesday, March 23rd, Hat Daddy said

Good on you, mate! What you showed him was a man of integrity. My impression is that he's underestimated you. Relish that feeling!

on Tuesday, March 23rd, mr.ska said

I really want to make some bad condiment puns now, but I'll spare you. Don't want to come off as saucy.


on Tuesday, March 23rd, xhead said

No puns please, I'm still trying to ketchup on the comments.

on Tuesday, March 23rd, Kevin said

Well at least now you know that you're not too old to cut the mustand anymore.

on Tuesday, March 23rd, mr.ska said

We butter stop this punning now, my eyes are starting to glaze over...

on Tuesday, March 23rd, Hat Daddy said

Cheese, will y'all stop with this nonsense. I cheddar to think of what'll happen if this is left unchecked...

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