Terrible HR Tuesday – Counter Offer Part 1

Feeling Bad

In my HR career, I have encountered many questionable HR “talent.” You know the ones, the HR employees that give us all a bad name? The ones who aren’t passionate about HR, but ended up there? I’m hoping to highlight “terrible HR” here on Tuesdays, as long as I have stories to share. Please feel free to share your encounters with bad Human Resources – either as an HR professional or as an employee! melissa@hrincommon.com

I have been DYING to share this experience with you all since it happened to ME recently. I recently decided to leave my corporate job (more on this in another post, promise), and went to hand-in my resignation to my boss, an HR director. In that meeting, she asked what levers needed to be pulled to keep me, and I was very clear about the things that needed to happen – I wasn’t bitter or disgruntled (yet), but bored. After our meeting she met with her boss, the VP, and came back to me saying, “We’re not losing you. I will have more info and a counter tomorrow.” That was Monday.

On Tuesday, no word – at 5pm, she mentioned that she would have something for me on Wednesday. On Wednesday, not a word. As you can imagine my openness and engagement to stay was dwindling by the moment – another shining example of how our HR team was not able to actually DELIVER HR. If the waiting and situation wasn’t bad enough… my boss just about tackled me as I arrived in the office on Thursday morning. She sat down, with nothing in her hands (a written letter/offer always is better) and begins her “offer.” The conversation went like this, “So before I get into the offer, I had to reach out to other HR employees for feedback about you. Here is the feedback I got…” She continued to essentially tell me that I was a crappy employee that my colleagues didn’t like – I was too directive, too controlling, and I copied their boss on an email, so they didn’t trust me. (Don’t worry – it gets better). Mind you this “feedback” was not presented with specific (or STAR) examples; was not from people I actually interact or work with, and my clients were not asked to provide feedback “because they absolutely love you.” After all of the negative commentary, I was then asked, “So, do you even want to hear the counter?” To be honest, I was thinking HELL NO, but we are at work, so I responded, “Sure – that’s what you were here for, so I’d be happy to hear what it is.”  “Great, the offer is… You are a highly valued employee and we really want you to stay.”

I know, you think I”m kidding right? This is a very seasoned HR director who messed up delivering a counter offer to an HR professional – messed up royally really. Here’s the thing… when you are trying to KEEP an employee, especially one who is retainable, the whole point of the counter discussion is to engage them, talk them up, tell them all of the great things they delivered, what an asset they are to the company. There are PLENTY of venues and forums to deliver feedback (we can debate whether or not what she said to me was feedback later – wait until part 2!), that is more appropriate, especially if that type of feedback has never been mentioned or delivered in the past. Trust me – the Counter Offer, is NOT the place to do that.

So in this episode of terrible HR, we saw a HR senior professional…

  • Delay a counter offer for several days
  • Come into the counter offer meeting without any official paperwork (three days too late)
  • Start the counter conversation with negative “feedback,” particularly from non-relevant stakeholders

I know, I know – you want to hear about the offer! Soon, I promise – but it’s another shining example of terrible HR, so hold tight.

Photo by Ben Heine