Oh how we hate counter-offers! Eh? Especially when you are on the side that finds itself having to outbid? Worthwhile? A necessary evil? A sign of a shortage in the workforce, it makes no difference; we must deal with them and know how to distinguish between those who play games and those who negotiate sincerely. Such a challenge!
1 – When the candidate comes back to you with a counter proposition, you must find out what they are aiming for. There are several possible explanations:
- Their employer offers them a promotion
- Their employer gives them a substantial pay rise
- The candidate is testing you
- The candidate wants to reach the top of the scale
There are as many explanations as there are candidates…
2 – Examine your offer:
- Is it fair and just?
- Is there any leeway for salary negotiation?
- Have you conducted a rigorous process of selection and presentation of your offer?
- Does the candidate have realistic expectations?
- Is the offer in line with the market?
- Is the candidate really worth the trouble?
- Does the candidate seem sincere in their pursuit?
3 – Meet the candidate:
- Don’t negotiate over the phone or at least avoid it where you can.
- Ask the candidate to come and discuss the situation with you
- Don’t negotiate either as a matter of urgency or under any pressure
- Ask them how their expectations have changed, check their limits and test their real intentions for changing positions.
- Confront them. What would push them to decline your offer at the last minute?
- What are their minimum demands? Reassure them.
4 – Involve them in the process
It takes two to negotiate. You must come out of this transaction as much a winner as the candidate. You must certainly avoid losing out. Some candidates put themselves on the market merely to assess their value with no real intentions of changing positions. It’s not a question of refusing negotiation but of discovering any hidden motives.
5 – Exceptions?
How much are you willing to pay to attract the best candidate? How long will the candidate stay in the position before re-negotiation? Establish clear boundaries and milestones. If you are negotiating, it’s for good, not for the next three months…
Regarding the subject of the counter-offer process, the best approach is still prevention rather than the cure, especially before a counter-offer emerges (should it emerge). The answer to the question “?” will inform you of the candidate’s motives and of any necessity to move to plan B…