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I'm hoping to get some kind of advice regarding a counter-offer dilemma I find myself in; it's the first time I've ever had a counter-offer so I have no idea what to do. Apologies if this is a long question, I just wanted it to be as detailed as possible.

TL;DR I have a great job, I got offered another one, and now I've been given a counter-offer. I have no idea what to do, can anyone help with any advice? specifically I am looking for any direct experience such as "best/worst decision I ever made" or "as a hiring manager I have seen this happen X times and in general it does/doesn't work Y% of the time", etc. Considered opinions are of course also welcome.

Background

I work for a large corporation, having been there for close to 2 years now.

  • I was hired as a Software Lead, and then progressed to Architecture.
  • We have several global teams in our project but our team's Dev Manager is based offshore in a different timezone.
  • Although I am the de-facto leader of the team - I mentor, lead and help all the team members each day - I don't actually get to manage them, grow their careers, etc.

That last point frustrates me so one thing I have been asking about for maybe 12 months, is if we can have local dev leadership in an official capacity(i.e. "manager" role), partly so that we can be more effective as a team, and partly so that we have a good platform to grow our presence in this particular site (we're the only team on the project at this site and I dream of eventually having more here). Unfortunately that has not happened yet because "global strategy".

  • I can honestly say that I love the company, the work and the people, but the situation means that even though I work for a huge company, my career growth options for the foreseeable future are practically nil, because I have reached the highest possible level at this site - my current role was created for me and we have no other on-site architects.
  • So if I want to progress further, I would have to move abroad - something I don't want to do.
  • Most of the folks at this site don't write software, they perform manufacturing support functions so I can't even take a step sideways to move forwards, if you see what I mean.

Current situation

I have an offer on the table from a small software company that is experiencing massive growth and needs the kind of skills I have; this offer kind of fell into my lap in the sense that I wasn't really looking, just went along to a recruiter-offered interview for the day out and the chance to wear my suit...

  • Well, it turns out they're a great bunch of people and I'd love to work with them.
  • It's also a chance to help something grow which I really enjoy doing to do - my current employer has pretty much already "won" in its industry.
  • The offer itself is about 90% of what I currently have (salary same, but bonus and benefits not quite matching, would be leaving behind a very large retention grant, etc, etc, but it's understandable as they are a very small company) and the work is very interesting.
  • I have not signed anything yet but I really ought to in the next few days, if I am going to take that job.

The Dilemma

Now. The thing is, that around about the time that I was being offered this new job, and talking to my manager that I was going to be handing my notice (I wanted to negotiate an exit date with them that would not leave them stuck), I made it clear that this was a non-negotiable decision, nothing they can offer me to stay, not because I am unhappy with the organisation at all, just because I feel I can grow more in the other job.

And now in the last 3 days, out of the blue, a global organisational change has put someone more or less local (different country but 1 hour flight) in charge of the whole project (I suppose you could say they are now both the Program and Engineering Director of the project). I have a great working relationship with that person and when they found out I was thinking of leaving, they immediately offered me a Dev Manager role not just for the local team but also for another prestigious team at another remote site.

And suddenly I don't know what to do! So it's kind of a case of "be careful what you wish for" because I'm right back to square one with my decision.

My own current feelings

  • From my own research on the subject, the general consensus seems to be "Don't accept counter offers, it rarely works out."
  • But this one feels very genuine and I get the sense that it's more a case that this could well have been offered in the near future, and that the current situation has just accelerated that.
  • Then again, I am the centre of my own universe so I'm probably more than a little biased to be thinking like that :)

So any advice, anecdotal or otherwise, is much appreciated - I understand that this is a very opinion-based question but any help will help...I am fully aware that this is a pure "first-world problem" as well....

closed as off-topic by HorusKol, gnat, Masked Man, paparazzo, JasonJ Feb 16 '17 at 13:45

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here." – HorusKol, gnat, Masked Man, paparazzo, JasonJ
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • @JoeStrazzere - yes - my words to my current manager were "I don't think there is anything you can offer me to stay". It was meant as a polite way of saying "don't ask" because I never in all honesty thought that I'd be offered something like this - and I wasn't going to ask any more since I've already mentioned it many times :) In that sense the global re-org (which is really not connected with our little corner of the corp) was totally unexpected – A Regular joe Feb 15 '17 at 20:56
  • @JoeStrazzere - thanks for the comments; the global stategy thing isn't something I had thought about- what if next year's re-org leaves me out in the cold - this is a good point for me to consider!! I have also updated the question itself, hopefully that makes it less opinion-based. – A Regular joe Feb 15 '17 at 21:27
  • This seems less of a counter-offer and more of a Company A / Company B thing given the drastic change in job role... look at it from that angle, and make sure you have got the offer you want agreed in writing before declining the other. – HorusKol Feb 16 '17 at 0:47
  • @JoeStrazzere that's true enough - but nothing to stop the new company doing the same in six months time. – HorusKol Feb 16 '17 at 0:47
  • Sometimes companies can get complacent about their staff and the prospect of losing them makes senior management wake up - so counter offers can work out fine, I've been in that situation twice in my career, ultimately accepting the counter offer both times (including my current role) and had no 'black mark' or negative after-effects regarding future promotion etc. If anything they are much more attentive about making sure what they want matches what I want. YMMV, of course, but just wanted to point out that the counter offer doesn't always end badly. Good luck! – strmqm Feb 16 '17 at 7:26
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The "Don't accept a counter offer" is pretty much axiomatic, regardless of the situation.

  1. You've already demonstrated an intent to leave
  2. This is usually nothing more than an attempt to phase you out on their schedule as opposed to yours
  3. You will NEVER be trusted at that company again.
  4. You will not be put on critical projects and all of your duties will be replicated.
  5. Your career will stagnate
  6. Chances of promotion will be next to nil until and unless they think you are no longer a flight risk
  7. If they let you go down the line, you'll be in the unenviable position of hunting for a job while you do not have one.

NONE of these realities change just because you believe your circumstances are different.

  • @JoeStrazzere no, axiomatic. – Retired Codger Feb 15 '17 at 21:06
  • @RichardU - thanks for the answer, and yes I understand that my case is unlikely to be any more special than anyone elses :) It feels a little like this probably would have happened with time but that now a normally slow-moving, conservative organisation has been forced to make a quick decision. And as I type this I realise that they may very well resent this and thus point 3 might be very salient in that case :) – A Regular joe Feb 15 '17 at 21:31
  • @ARegularjoe Good luck. I'm a bit blunt, but I hate seeing people doing potentially damaging things to themselves. I've known a few people who accepted counter-offers and none of them turned out well. – Retired Codger Feb 15 '17 at 21:40
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    This answer could be improved by explaining why a management restructure which leads to a counter offer from the new manager is not an exception to these rules. – Bobson Feb 15 '17 at 22:48
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    It's NOT axiomatic. I accepted a counter offer once, and it worked splendidly, I got trusted, I got promoted, i worked on key projects and I got to keep my retention bonus. Nothing is ever that black and white – Hilmar Feb 16 '17 at 3:24
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I'm not one to say "never accept a counter offer" because each situation is different. I think your question qualifies as different enough.

What did you want?

  • More responsibility
  • Better position
  • New management

And what are they offering? Pretty much the same things that you want.

I think the difference between your situation and what RichardU is describing is that you're essentially being given a new job, but at the same company. If it were a small company, that would be impossible. But at a large company it's highly possible.

I would say to never except a counter offer for the same position. But that's not the case here. You're not getting a counter offer as much as a new offer. Honestly, if I were in your position I'd take a close look at it and give it a shot. By your own admission, there's a lot to like about where you work and maybe this will help.

Remember, accepting this new offer (it's not really a counter-offer) doesn't mean you have spend years there. And since you're not going to be working for your old boss, most of the other advice given really doesn't apply anymore.

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I have not signed anything yet but I really ought to in the next few days, if I am going to take that job.

...

talking to my manager that I was going to be handing my notice (I wanted to negotiate an exit date with them that would not leave them stuck), I made it clear that this was a non-negotiable decision, nothing they can offer me to stay, not because I am unhappy with the organisation at all, just because I feel I can grow more in the other job.

Danger.

You don't have the new job until you sign and return the paperwork. You were lucky they gave you a counter offer. Now quickly sign the offer from the new company and return it.

You told your current employer that you are about to quit. So the damage has been done. All the things that other questions and answers discuss can still happen. The offer may be just one to keep you in place until your replacement has been found.

You understandably feel the situation regarding this counter offer is different. You think that they never would have offered the promotion without them knowing you had a job offer. But nobody will ever know.

When you told them you were ready to leave you put that black mark against you. It might not be important for weeks, months or years, but if they are ever faced with deciding who should stay or who should go they will remember this situation.

My experience has been that these rarely work. The real reason for looking is never fully addressed by the counter offer.

  • Thanks for the insight; in this case though they are offering me a new job so they'd have to replace me one way or the other...but still I know what you are saying and this is likely to inform my decision... – A Regular joe Feb 16 '17 at 9:10
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...a global organisational change has put someone...in charge of the whole project...I have a great working relationship with [that person]...

Accept the offer at the new startup, get settled in, then recruit [that person] to join the new company. Best of both worlds.

  • interesting idea :) It would not work but thanks for the answer :) – A Regular joe Feb 16 '17 at 7:35

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