Help! My staff member got an offer elsewhere

By Edward Plant

A client called me up recently with a crappy dilemma.

A key member of his team came to him to say that she’d been approached by a rival business and offered more money.

What should he do?

The simple fact is, if that staff member has already made the decision to go, there probably isn’t much you can do. However, if they have approached you openly then there is also a good chance they are are tempted but not sold on the offer which opens up your options too.

A word of warning: simply handing over more money can create bigger problems for your business. Staff will talk whether you like it or not, so you need to consider what other team members will think and do as a result of raising one team member’s salary or rates.

The other problem is that it can set up a cycle whereby you offer more money now and that person continues to come back every 6-12 months wanting the same outcome.

This issue should be approached in two parts. Here are the key steps and some sample conversations you can tweak to your own style.

PART #1  Understanding what the staffer REALLY wants

Often staff will come to you asking for more money but there are often other unmet needs driving that request.

Is that person dissatisfied with their role? Do they really need extra training to achieve a different role or to take on additional responsibility? Are they specifically wanting to achieve a personal goal, such as an overseas holiday or a renovation on their home? Are they unhappy due to some personal circumstances at play; could a leave of absence be the solution?

Knowing and understanding their true motivation can help you find the best remedy to fulfil that, without compromising your own integrity or standards. You need to have a conversation with your team member to understand that. You don’t need to make any promises in that conversation, but ask targeted questions and listen to the answers.

Sample conversation starters…

So once you’ve set up a meeting, the conversation could go something like this:

Hey, thanks for taking the time to meet with me today. I appreciate you coming to me and telling me about your other job opportunity. Before we even talk about that though, I’d really like to understand what you want. What are you having troubles with? And what are you really looking for in an awesome place to work for your lifestyle?”

Lead the conversation into desirable outcomes such as job security, the ability to grow technical skills, cross training, a good working environment, happiness and what drives that. These are all things your business could and should be delivering. Regardless of the outcome, this is all valuable information that you can take on board for future recruiting.

Once you’ve explored that and really understand where that person is coming from, then ask where they are at with their decision.

So where are you sitting — have you made your decision, or are you open to staying here?

If the decision has been made, don’t take it any further. Wish them all the best and finalise any details around their departure.

If they are open to staying, ask them to provide you with a clear outline of their needs and expectations. That conversation could start out with:

What would it look like for you to stay here and be an amazing employee who is extremely fulfilled in what you’re doing?

To stay or not to stay? That is the question

Part #2  Decide what you are willing to give — or not

Once you know what that person wants, the question for you then becomes: can you help? Can you solve the problem and give the person what it is they want, or not.

You then need to get clear on what you are willing to give as a business to keep that person, or whether you are prepared to simply let them go.

When considering your counter offer or package, approach the money side of things with caution and rather focus on other opportunities that are good for that person.

* Do you have a burning business question for Ed or Bec? Fire away in an email to [email protected] We’d love to help (:

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About the Author

Edward is the Co-Founder and Lead Strategist at the Institute for Couples in Business. When he’s not nutting out smart strategies you’ll find him hanging out with wife and business partner Rebecca and his sons Samuel, 4, and Charles, 2. For the past seven years Ed has been working with business owners to double profits, halve hours and build self-sustaining business that thrives with or without you. Ed is also author of #1 best-seller Lead-The-Ship and a sought-after guest speaker who often gets mistaken for Prince Harry.

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