Rather than setting yourself up for the feelings of confusion and guilt that may arise when a counteroffer is presented, be prepared:

What really goes through a boss’s mind when someone quits?

“This couldn’t be happening at a worse time.”

“This is one of my best people. If I let him quit now, it’ll wreak havoc on the morale of the department.”

“I’ve already got one opening in my department. I don’t need another right now.”

“I’m working as hard as I can and I don’t need to do his work, too.”

“If I lose another good employee, the company might decide to ‘lose’ me too.”

“Maybe I can keep him on until I find a suitable replacement.”

“You’re too valuable. We need you.”

“You can’t desert the team/your friends and leave them hanging.”

“We were just about to give you a promotion/raise, and it was confidential until now.”

“What did they offer? Why are you leaving? and what do you need in order to stay?”

“Why would you want to work for that company?”

“The President / CEO wants to meet with you before you make your final decision.”

What will the boss say to keep you in the nest?

“I’m really shocked; I thought you were as happy with us as we are with you. Let’s discuss it before you make your final decision.”

“Aw gee, I’ve been meaning to tell you about the great plans we have for you, but it’s been confidential until now.”

“The V.P. has you in mind for some exciting and expanding responsibilities.”

“Your raise was scheduled to go into effect next quarter, but we’ll make it effective immediately.”

“You’re going to work for who?”

A promotion/more responsibility

A modified reporting structure

Promises or future considerations

Disparaging remarks about the new company or job

Guilt trips

Let’s face it. When someone quits, it’s a direct reflection on the boss. Unless you are really incompetent or a destructive thorn in his side, the boss might look bad by “allowing” you to go. His gut reaction is to do what has to be done to keep you from leaving until he is ready. That’s human nature.

Unfortunately, it’s also human nature to want to stay unless your work life is abject misery. Career changes, like all ventures into the unknown, are tough. That’s why bosses know they can usually keep you around by pressing the right buttons.

What should you do with a Counter Offer?

Ask any recruiter and you’ll hear dozens of heartbreaking stories involving counter offers. Unfortunately, more executives seem to be getting and accepting them because of the inconsistent economy. Companies are operating with reduced staff and any defections from the ranks create problems for those who remain. It’s much easier for employers to sweeten the pot to keep executives from deserting than to conduct grueling and expensive searches for replacements.

When you are ready to leave a job, you will leave. You wouldn’t accept a counter offer any more than you would let a vendor who bid high on a job make a second, lower bid to beat out the winner. Your price should be your price, period….

Try not to let the attractiveness of the new offer make you unhappy with your present position. Base your decision to move – or – not solely on the opportunity the new job represents, not on whether your present one could be better. And, since decisiveness is a trait of a superior executive, stick to your guns once you have made up your mind.

When resigning…

Avoid any possible misunderstanding by submitting your resignation in writing (AND email).