update: my employer made me a counteroffer, then rescinded it

Remember the letter-writer whose employer made them a counteroffer but then rescinded it? Here’s the update.

I wound up taking the job at LargeCorp. When I wrote you, it was the same day grandboss had revoked his commitment. The next day, when you published my letter, he told me I could stay, in a job position I didn’t want, and isn’t my core competency, for about 20% of the raise he had committed to originally. I took the weekend, but on Monday I declined his offer, and gave one final week’s notice. I start at LargeCorp this week, for a substantial raise and signing bonus.

The commentariat was so helpful in settling my feelings. I particularly liked the comments that 30 years of experience should make me the majority shareholder, CEO, president, or Pope. It solidified the complete ridiculousness of that comment!

Fortunately I had not given up the job at LargeCorp- the Friday I had been told my promotion was good, I had a sense that it wasn’t fully settled- one of my conditions of staying for the promotion was that grandboss would announce my role change to the line of business, so there wouldn’t be as much of a chance he would revoke his decision. Because I felt unsettled, I committed to myself that I wouldn’t jettison LargeCorp until my promotion was announced, and that cynicism saved my bacon. As it is, since grandboss wasted time with his games, I wound up staying an extra week and got paid my production bonus, which I’d been willing to walk away from for the raise at LargeCorp. Grandboss’ one act of decency was to not deny me that bonus. I think he also knew not to trifle with me, because I am well known in SmallCorp, and we are a rather gossipy institution, so certain people know exactly what happened, and are probably sharing some version of the truth with others. I did make sure not to implicate anyone else in the disaster- it was truly all on grandboss, and so I emphasized that the new leadership didn’t play a part in my treatment.

It’s pretty bittersweet to be leaving- I am really close and attached to my team–they’re great people and I’ve worked with my boss for more than 8 years; he has been the best champion of my career, and supports me leaving for greener pastures. Grandboss is retiring in just a month or so, and his replacement is a great person, he just didn’t have any ability to fix the trainwreck Grandboss caused. Another executive who is too rigid is retiring in 6 months, and the appointed new leadership is young, vibrant, and hungry to make changes to what is, at its core, a great institution. Both of these oncoming executives have given me an open invitation to come back any time, and they acknowledge that grandboss mishandled this whole thing. So, if it doesn’t work at LargeCorp in terms of an institutional/cultural fit, I know I have a home back at SmallCorp (just not with Grandboss there…what a jackwagon).

{ 41 comments… read them below }

    1. tw1968*

      Good for you LW!!! And I now recommend we use “Jackwagon” as the name for anyone’s bad boss when they write in. (“My boss, Jackwagon, denied my vacation after it’d been approved for 3 months and I already bought plane tickets…”)

    2. Can Can Cannot*

      I hope you let your colleagues know how the company handed this so that they will be careful if they ever receive a counter-offer from SmallCorp.

    3. Arts Akimbo*

      So, am I reading this right?– this guy (Grandboss) will be retiring in a MONTH and chose to make one of his final acts there torpedoing LW’s promotion? Wow. That is next level shortsightedness, or next level pettiness, not sure which!

      1. Pisces*

        Maybe Grandboss is trying to wield power while he still has it. In retirement he may have no weight to throw around, or no one in his life who’ll put up with nonsense from him.

  1. Elizabeth West*

    Whew! I hope LargeCorp works out and that the new boss at SmallCorp can get things on track.

  2. Lab Boss*

    And who knows- maybe this cycle ends with you stepping to LargeCorp, getting some experience there while SmallCorp undergoes growing pains replacing your former dishonest Grandboss, and you going back to a higher position at SmallCorp down the road a bit. It sounds like you acted professionally throughout so the bridge is unburnt, just maintain some connections with your former employer. As time passes you’ll have more perspective on whether you truly regret leaving, or whether that was just growing pains and you’re happy where you are.

    1. Anonymoose*

      I’m thinking the same. The smart bosses at SmallCorp know that OP will be a stronger employee in 3-5 years with that experience from LargeCorp. Not that OP should plan to leave LargeCorp, but there are natural progressions in careers, and SmallCorp can benefit from someone like OP who knows their company yet has experience beyond it.

    2. Ally McBeal*

      This was my exact thought. Maybe LargeCorp is amazing and you stay there for a decade, or maybe you do what so many folks in the ad industry do and hop back and forth between a few firms, negotiating a higher salary/better perks every time you switch. (I’m sure this practice isn’t specific to the ad industry, but that’s how it was explained to me when I was temping at one of those agencies a few years back.)

  3. OrigCassandra*

    Just deserts for your jackwagon grandboss. I hope everything continues to work out in your favor, OP!

  4. Lilo*

    I hope things improve at SmallCorp, but I will say it’s sometimes tempting to blame larger issues on a couple bad actors. Ultimately the Corp promoted those people and kept them in those roles. If Small Corp offers you a job in a few months but things are going well at Large Corp, I’d be really, really careful about returning, even with the “bad” people gone.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yes, this! Everyone right at the top tolerated Grandboss and the other, too-rigid executive. And what if instead of modifying the counteroffer, Grandboss had let it stand for a few weeks and THEN made this bait-and-switch? It might have been too late to take the job at LargeCorp!

      When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Also, I can just see those two “deciding” to put off their retirement indefinitely….

      2. T. Boone Pickens*

        It sounds like SmallCorp has new executive leadership per the LW so the team that previously tolerated the two folks in question are no longer there.

        Not sure why you’re making up a hypothetical about what Grandboss potentially could’ve done. It literally states what happened in the letter and subsequent update.

  5. Threeve*

    I’m not defending SmallCorp or Grandboss, but “we’re a gossipy institution” is quite a euphemistic way of saying “I’m going to gossip about Grandboss.”

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I didnt see it that way, more like a “I know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy that has an idea of what’s going on at SmallCorp” situation.

    2. MackM*

      I took that to mean that if they told a small number of closer colleagues how they were treated by Grandboss, that information would be shared around enough that Grandboss may feel their reputation was on the line. In contrast, I’ve worked in environments where the office culture would have sequestered any unflattering information about Grandboss.

      As an aside, I wouldn’t feel this information is gossip. It is useful information about how Grandboss handles work situations, it’s something people working with Grandboss have reason to know. We’re not talking about their home life, we’re talking about them yanking your chain about as hard as a boss can yank!

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Yeah… telling someone a true story about something you experienced at work is not gossip. Other people relaying that information may or may not be gossip—though in a place where gossip is a mainstay of the culture, this too is likely to be passed around regardless of its gossip/not-gossip delineation.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          “Gossip” is an interesting word. The relevant definition is “rumor or report of an intimate nature.” Telling someone a true story about something you experienced at work can certainly qualify. The word has acquired a sense of salacious or untrue stories, which it can but need not be so.

          1. Pocket Mouse*

            I have to disagree. The “revealing personal or sensational facts about others” aspect is most applicable here. A gossipy workplace is not full of people divulging intimate information about themselves, it’s full of people giving “some version of the truth” when telling stories involving others.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      There’s a theory that gossip replaced grooming as a way to get us coopering in a group. Better to take it as a given in any group.

      The enduring appeal of advice columns is tightly tied to the enduring appeal of gossip.

      1. Good News #4*

        There was a BBC show at least a decade ago, that picked up a group of 21st century families, and dropped them into a recreated 1920’s English mining town.

        In preparation for selecting families, the production company talked with people who’d lived in similar towns and communities. One of the things residents said was necessary was the ability to gossip. I don’t exactly remember the academic explanation they ran on the show, but I think it was something like this – the sense that small town gossip was how news and information spread, and created a kind of “we’re all in this together” cohesion.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          It also is a vital mode of fitting in. Read about small towns of a century or so back and for the people who fit it, they were great, with a strong sense of community where everyone was one big support group. For those who did not fit it, it was hellish. These might not fit it due to race, ethnicity, religion, neurodivergence, or simply due to personal interests.

    4. Foila*

      I think ‘gossipy’ can mean a variety of things, and in this case I interpreted it as “we have a workplace culture where it would not be seen as odd for me to be candid about how my promotion was handled. I will remain professional, but will not cover for my Grandboss’s missteps”.

    5. Shirley Keeldar*

      Eh, “gossip” can be a way to say “people with less power sharing important things to know about people with more power.” (See “whisper network.”) Human beings talk about the way we treat each other. It can be very valuable. I don’t see that OP did anything wrong by sharing honestly what had happened to her, and I hope others can benefit from it.

    6. Smithy*

      As gossip has negative connotations – when talking about work, I do feel that very often presenting gossip in this more negative light (as opposed to calling it networking or gaining intel) – I do think this is a way of dismissing how more junior colleagues or staff with less power in the hierarchy often get and share information.

      Whether an employer or particular boss is good to work for – very often “gossip” is the only way that information is shared. Because it’s very often it’s a mix of “I know A and B, therefore I believe C,D, and E which I’ve heard.”

    7. fhqwhgads*

      I took that to mean something more like “if I tell one person, regardless of which one, this will spread widely there” – which is not quite the euphemism you seem to be assuming it is.

      1. coffee*

        Yeah, I would describe it as “my workplace has a flourishing grapevine”, as in, “I heard it on the grapevine”. It’s not gossip, it’s sharing information informally (before it’s formally announced or things that won’t be announced but are still true).

  6. Hills to Die on*

    Thanks for the update! Always listen to your gut – that was some dirty pool that grandboss was playing. I am so glad it worked out for you.

  7. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    I have learned something important here. Do not decline the new offer until you are SURE that the counter offer is firm and enacted if you do accept one. I have rarely read one where it turned out to be a good decision (after all if they valued you that much they should have already made the offer without the risk of losing you so you aren’t looking).

  8. knope knope knope*

    I would love another update in 6 months or so! I bet OP starts thinking very differently about SmallCorp after being exposed to LargeCorp for a while.

  9. Bob*

    A lot of people will say never take the counter (including me) but in addition to the extra comp and other benefits of the new place – you will learn so much. That you learn new processes, tools, people, etc when you switch jobs is grossly underrated. I’ve taken jobs that a year later ended poorly (mergers etc) but I have always come away with something new.

  10. FakeAmerica*

    Just left a job after 12 years and it was really bittersweet. It was the best job I’ve ever had. Well known employer at the top of the industry with great salary and benefits. Great working environment. But the structure and people at the top are very hierarchical and despite working for years(yes, years) with my boss and the owner to formalize a more senior specialist position(I was already doing the job anyway), it never came through and I couldn’t go to any more meetings about it, so I had to go.

    I had a huge portfolio of responsibilities and was the keeper of so much institutional knowledge. I deployed pretty much every business or tech system they had and that wasn’t even my primary job function. I recall bumping into the owner during my notice period and he said they were sorry they couldn’t find a place for me. Which is just nuts and reflects such a lack of vision. I still can’t believe that they’d let me go instead of trying to give me a title and some additional job responsibilities. I wasn’t even asking for more $$.

    One of the other managers joked that they’d need to hire two people to do all the stuff I was doing. And sure enough when I left, they advertised two positions that split my role up. The shortsightedness of the whole thing h is mind blowing.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      So really, you should have asked them to double your salary and all benefits… I hope you have a better job now, where you are valued.

  11. Elbereth Gilthoniel*

    Thank you for the update OP! It’s always nice to get an update with good news. Best of luck in your new role!

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