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Your employee just quit. Should you counteroffer?

You dread that moment when one of your people schedules a meeting to tell you that they have just accepted a job somewhere else. As a manager, you feel rejected, maybe even abandoned, and now you have another problem on your hands—an empty position, a new person to hire and onboard, lost business. The fight in you comes out, and you might wonder what you can do to make them stay, and you reach for the counteroffer. Should you offer more money?

Fast Company recently published our article Your best employee just quit. Should you extend a counteroffer? In this article, we share the reality: that this line of thinking is flawed. The truth is, the person leaving has already emotionally and mentally “left the building.” It is most likely too late to save the relationship. So, if buying their retention isn’t the solution, what is? Make it about the relationship—not the money.

These four relationship-building tips will help you lead with the ability to value your people while they are with you and support their evolution when it’s time to move on.

1. You’re in Charge of Setting the Tone
When someone resigns, it can feel like rejection and that can send you to a place of judgment—and this is when you might begin to make things up, creating stories about that person, making them “wrong.” This can ruin what had been a good working relationship. Instead, stand in a perspective that will serve you and this relationship. Think about what do you want to hold on to, what are you grateful for? And what are you ready to let go of?

2. Invest in Healthy Lasting Relationships
Tenure is fleeting and careers are long. Pause. Step back to look at the bigger picture. This does not have to be a breakup. In far too many workplace settings, when people are ready to move on, we make this the end of the relationship, and it doesn’t have to be that way.
Healthy relationships go through many transitions. This person may work for you in the future, or you may get a job in their new situation. Who knows? So, pause and consider – What does healthy closure to this phase of your relationship look like?

3. Don’t Take it Personally
We get that the research says it is all about you; that people leave because of their managers. But consider for a moment, what if their decision has nothing to do with you? Rather than feeling judgmental about them and why they are leaving, get curious. It might have something to do with you, and it might not. Provide a safe space for them to share their experience with your company and their reasons for leaving. Listen without judgment. There might be some nuggets in this conversation that will make you better.

4. Celebrate and Acknowledge Them
Accomplishments are not celebrated enough. As a manager, consider how this person has contributed to the success of the group, division, or company. How have they helped you? What qualities beyond the doing of their job do you want to acknowledge? It might be a can-do attitude or their team spirit or that you could always count on them for fill-in-the-blank. Don’t feel put off by emotions; let your coworkers know how much they mean to you and how much you will miss them.

It’s obvious money is important to people. So, make sure that you are being competitive in the market and paying people fairly. This is a necessary first step to retaining your employees. And if someone does walk into your office to tell you they’re leaving, it might be a signal that something is wrong—or maybe not. Treat your employees like humans, get personal and empathetic, be curious. This person is leaving, but what they tell you might help you retain the rest of your team.