Your best manager has just come into your office to resign. You quickly move through the shock, and denial phases and move right to bargaining … “Would you reconsider staying if we offered you …”. Someone once told you that extending a counter-offer is a bad idea and that accepting one is worse. But what do they know? If you can just make this guy change his mind, everything will return to normal.
But can you really move past the disloyalty and the betrayal – knowing that he’s been having secret liaisons with your competition? Sure you can. Get real – it’s not quite like learning that your husband has a profile on Ashley Madison. So maybe you offer more money, a bigger title, cooler projects, and a shiny new laptop. There, there … now it’ll all be ok.
Experience tells me that great people are pretty good at making decisions. They know how to evaluate opportunity and risk, and they don’t leap into greener pastures without first doing everything possible to make the best of their current situation. A good recruiter will have walked them through some scenarios, to be sure that staying put isn’t a viable option.
While a counter-offer could send a message that someone is in fact loved and wanted, it is always too little too late. If it takes a resignation to be awarded the compensation, recognition and fulfilling work that your people really deserve, you have bigger problems than this one empty seat.
Why not pre-empt the resignation entirely. Look around and imagine that each of your top employees is out there interviewing – it is a reasonable possibility. What can you do, and what should you do to make them stay? You need to ask them what they really want to be doing and what is important. It is probably not just about money, but about working with great people, on important projects and getting appropriate recognition. Now, what can you change?
You might not be able to give every person what they want and need, but listening will go a long way. Then, if that manager still comes into your office to resign, you can be supportive in their decision and confident that you’ve done everything possible to keep them.