update: my company made a counter-offer to keep me — and now is attaching strings to it

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose company made a counter-offer to keep her when she was about to leave for a new job and then, after she’d declined the other job, starting attaching strings she hadn’t agreed to? Here’s the update.

I stayed at the original company. I went back to my boss and used similar language to what you suggested. He hadn’t fully reviewed the retention letter (put together by HR), which obviously is a whole thing on its own. He agreed to remove the most problematic parts of the letter and I signed it — in part because, as some of the commentors pointed out, the way the other company was approaching me was problematic on its own—in fact, the whole recruitment had been a bit off, which I had attributed to being understaffed but continued to get increasingly bad vibes about. Additionally, taking the other job would have meant either moving to the other side of our city or adding a geographic complication to an already complicated work-school-home balance that falls almost entirely to me, given my husband’s travel and work schedule. We were prepared to take that step, but it just added another layer of complication to the whole stay/go picture.

I didn’t go into this detail in my original letter, because I didn’t want to weigh the whole letter down, but I had been on the job market because my boss was new, and I wasn’t sure he would see a future for me at the company (I had reasons for this, I wasn’t just paranoid). I’d wanted to keep my options open if he decided to bring in a new team or was planning to radically restructure my job duties. Part of our discussion after the retention letter was negotiated clarified his commitment to me and to an expansion of my role and responsibilities. He also put me in charge of a strategic planning process, and I tacitly agreed to see it through. At the end of this process (another 6-9 months), I think it will be clear to everyone whether there is still room for my ambition at this organization, though it is clear there will be room for my skills and institutional knowledge for as long as I want to stay (assuming, of course, I don’t screw it up in the interim!!).

Oh, and I did get a raise at the last merit cycle. Not as large as I wanted or argued for, but the total comp package is now ahead of where I’d be at the other company.

{ 10 comments… read them below }

  1. Jules the 3rd*

    I love how you thought all this through, looking at everything – yellow flags at the other company, work-life balance, total compensation instead of just salary. I can understand why there’s a bidding war for your services.

  2. Dragoning*

    I saw this update and read “I stayed at the original company” and went “No! Don’t do it!” but it sounds like things worked out pretty well, so this is pretty good news!

  3. Massmatt*

    Yeah the way they did the counter offer was terrible but it sounds as though you weighed the pros and cons of both offers thoroughly.

    My instinct on reading that “routine retention letter” would have been to say “this is completely unacceptable, and not at ALL what we discussed. My last day will be _________” but my first instinct in the heat of the moment is often not the right response.

    1. TimeTravlR*

      I suffer from that too… I have started taking a moment to breathe before I react and it has helped me immensely!

  4. Observer*

    I’m glad this worked out well for you. It also goes to show that the conventional wisdom does not always apply. It’s there for a reason, but it’s important to think through the particulars of a specific situation before making a final decision.

Comments are closed.