Oh, counteroffers. Employees think that if they get more money, everything else will be fine. Employers think, 'we can’t lose this person, so let’s give them what they have been asking for all along, and we’ll get to keep them.' But friends, it rarely pans out that way.
I like to think of it like this: let’s say you’re in a relationship and your significant other isn’t paying attention to you at all. You decide the way to solve it is to go out on a date with someone else to make her/him jealous. And it might work, in the short term. They feel guilty about not giving you what you deserve and change their ways for a month or two, but pretty soon, you’re right back where you started.
I’m not saying it’s not possible to get to where you want to be in your career within your existing organization, but there are better ways to go about it. Here's how:
1. Create a plan.
To get started on this journey, you want to be crystal clear and armed with facts about the work that you’ve done and how it has enhanced business results. Show your manager that you are very aware of the work you’ve achieved and the value attached to it.
Speak to your manager about all of the amazing projects you’ve been doing and the impact it is having on the business. Get as many stats as possible gathered to state your case (and ultimately make it easier for that person to sell this in to their supervisors.) Do some research on the average salary for your role within the market and make it known if you’re underpaid but also that you’ve done the legwork to research it and aren’t just shooting from your gut.
Put your best foot forward and make it clear that you want to remain within the company but it’s also a priority for you to grow. This is not ultimatum time. Say this in a genuine and authentic way. Ultimatums (just like in the “relationship” example above) very rarely get you want you truly want.
2. Ask for what you want.
It’s scary to put your thoughts and feelings out there and face rejection, especially when it’s about you and your performance. But being open and honest about what you need and are looking for is the way to go. It doesn’t always work out in the way you want it to, but by starting the conversation, you don’t know what opportunities will present themselves. Are you asking for a promotion because you’re looking to sink your teeth into different types of work? Are you looking for more of a challenge as well as the financial changes that come along with it? Do you need to have a better understanding of a career path for yourself within the organization?
Get clear on what you want and then be brave enough to raise these issues to your manager. They may have plenty of ideas that you’ve not even considered. Or maybe they don’t, and by having the conversation you realize perhaps it is time to move on — but if you never try, you’ll never know.
As a former HR gal myself, nothing was more frustrating to me than when in an exit interview an employee mentioned if we’d only done X, they would have stayed — but often when I asked if they’d told their manager about wanting X, they said no. Missed opportunity. Give your organization the chance to meet your needs by voicing them, and if they don’t within a reasonable timeframe, at least you know that you did your best to advocate for yourself and your career.
3. Be reasonable.
Ok, so you have your conversation, and your boss says they are working on a plan for you and will keep you posted. Don’t expect miracles overnight. If they haven’t been focused on creating a plan until recently, you want them to put time and thought into it. Now, time and thought shouldn’t take six months or a year. Give them an opportunity to come back to you but also don’t give them a free pass. Bring it up and ask the question every now and again so that they realize you’re not forgetting the conversation you had or letting them off the hook for working with you to create a plan. (while all the while killing it on your everyday work of course!)
In this kind of situation, honesty is the best policy. Not only is angling for a counteroffer a little icky for your existing employer, but think about the other organization that you strung along. You’re not exactly making great friends there if you used them simply to gain something from your existing employer. Be smart, be reasonable and be brave enough to start the conversation. You never know where it will lead. And if at the end of the day, they aren’t willing to give you what you’re looking for, at least you know you tried.
Kelly is a human resources pro and coach who helps people find and achieve what they want career-wise and beyond. Coaching, training, recruiting – if you name it in the world of HR, she's done it in a variety of industries. Her advice has been featured on The Muse, Career Contessa, Levo, Workology, among others. Learn more by scoping her out at www.kellypoulson.com.
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