Promotion Leads to Attrition Part II: Counter-Offer Losses

This is second of a six-part series on promotions leading to attrition. Read Part I here.


What it looks like initially: John is a middle to strong performer and has just hit his sweet spot with his portfolio. The team has struggled with turnover in the past and is just now settling into a consistent rhythm. All of a sudden leadership is blindsided because John has come to them with another offer. In a desperate attempt to retain John, HR manages to push through a last-minute raise and title bump.

Where it goes wrong:  No one in the organization believes this is a normal,merited promotion. Individuals with similar tenure and performance will start asking where their promotions are and their engagement and performance will fall. Seeking outside offers as the way to grow will become more likely to be accepted as the norm by other team members. Additionally, John, who may have been driven to seek the offer for rational reasons, will now be held to an impossible standard. Leadership will judge him more harshly in comparison to others and consistently expect him to “prove” he was worth retaining.

How people usually leave: 80% of the time in this scenario John will leave your organization anyway within a year. He’s already considered his options, his resume has likely been sent out at a few different competitors beyond that of the offer he already received, and the underlying factors that drove him to consider a new job (title, recognition, someone paying him more) are left unresolved or even exacerbated by the counter-offer process.
What you can do about it: Only make counter-offers when an additional 9-12 months will make a critical difference to your program, and make those offers with the expectation that this individual will leave you soon  anyway.
  • Work with your HR or organization administration to allow for retention offers that can happen without a viable or documented counter offer. Let your retention strategy be proactive based on performance and potential, and assume that all DOs are getting recruiting calls regularly.
  • Create clear expectations and milestones that indicate readiness for the next level. Follow through with those team members who deliver on those expectations.

Part of talent management success in an industry like development is the acceptance that fundraiser turnover will happen and, instead of trying to build an impossible program that retains DOs indefinitely,  the creation of a program that maximizes the time you do have with fundraisers.


4 thoughts on “Promotion Leads to Attrition Part II: Counter-Offer Losses

  1. Pingback: Promotions that Lead to Attrition Part III: The Promotion on Paper But Not in Practice | Targeting Fundraising Talent

  2. Pingback: Promotions that Lead to Attrition Part IV: The Empty Promotion | Targeting Fundraising Talent

  3. Pingback: Promotions that Lead to Attrition Part V: The Too-Late, Falsely Promised Promotion | Targeting Fundraising Talent

  4. Pingback: Promotions that Lead to Attrition Part VI: The Unsolicited Promotion | Targeting Fundraising Talent

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