managers who are new to Southeast Asia can be dumbfounded when a
candidate who previously gave acceptance of a job offer later changes
his mind and gives seemingly irresponsible reasons such as:
“My boss said I can’t leave right now.”
“I spoke to my family and they told me I should stay.”
“My company just gave me a promotion so it wouldn’t be right for me to leave.”
some managers in Asia, such justifications are thought reasonable and
adequate for seeming to go back on their word.
What is Going On?
There are still some differences in working culture between so-called developed and emerging
countries although these are minimizing over time.
First of all, most large local companies in Asia are family-owned and
run, and have limited local competition. In such situations, values like
loyalty and trust are well-rewarded while attributes like on-the-job
performance are perceived as secondary.
In such companies, the boss is a patriarchal figure and takes a personal role in the lives of his employees. When
someone from this workplace "family" comes with a resignation notice, it
is a powerfully emotional situation and full of all sorts of things Asians don’t like – losing face,
conflict and so on.
Some Asian managers will never forgive an employee for betraying
the "family" – a big concern if there are only a few companies in the industry.
So traumatic is the offense that more than a few careers have been
destroyed by bitter senior people seeking revenge.
A second important factor to understand is the influence of the family
in Asia. Large extended families typically have close connections and
it is expected that they are part of the decision process for important
decisions like career change. Parents, in particular, have much more
control over their adult offspring than in the west. If parents or
other close relatives have personal relationships with the boss or boss' boss,
they can often be a strong force to limit job change.
A third cause of failed job offer acceptance is simply the desire for a
raise at a candidate’s current employer. It is difficult for Asians to
ask for raises since doing so creates the potential of conflict, losing
face and other things that are uncomfortable. Therefore, it is
sometimes easier to use a job offer from an outside employer to help
them achieve their purpose in a less direct manner. The boss will
provide a counter-offer for the employee to stay and everyone is
outwardly happy (although perhaps not inwardly so).
Early Signs of Problems
There are 3 main indicators that a candidate may be having second
thoughts and is at risk of rejecting a job offer.
1. Unusual Delays
– Candidates who were previously responsive and enthusiastic but
suddenly stop returning calls and repeatedly reschedule meetings may be
having second thoughts. Common excuses provided can be important
sounding ones like emergency meetings at work or sick family members in
the hospital. Be wary.
2. Unreasonable Requirements
– Some candidates will create unrealistic requirements at a late stage
of the hiring process rather than admit they are not interested. Income
expectations may become inflated, reporting requirements might change,
requests for more information may seem never ending, and so on.
3. Increase in Reported Earnings
– It can also be common for candidates in a final salary negotiation
stage to suddenly "remember" that their real salary is higher than they
earlier stated. The most common justifications are a salary increase
they “just received” or income items that weren’t described
Counter-Offers is Bad?
People in so-called advanced countries have mainly come to the
conclusion that accepting counter-offers is a bad idea for both employees
(especially) and employers. And, study after study has shown that this is
The vast majority
of employees who accept counter-offers regret their decision. They
depart on their own (usually within 6 months) after it becomes clear
their original reasons for considering to leave are not going to change.
Or, they are pushed out by employers (usually within 12 months) when
the boss discovers the problems he has created for himself by giving
in to providing the counter-offer. Other employees resent a co-worker being rewarded
for what they consider disloyal conduct. Previously content staff members
suddenly become disengaged and even confrontational.
As well, other employees usually start showing up
at the manager’s office with their own outside job offers expecting counter-offers
and salary increases. The situation can quickly become
out-of-control and the most appropriate solution is to eliminate the
“conniving” employee who started it all.
So Why Do Some Managers Offer
When someone resigns, it is the boss whose ability is questioned and it
is him or her who has to clean up the mess. Unless the employee is deemed
disposable, the boss will certainly look bad to his superiors since his
department’s results will suffer.
A second-rate manager, who may have other problems with
performance, might not want something else for his supervisors to
complain about. As well, he certainly doesn’t want another crisis to
consume his time.
As a result, such managers will attempt to manipulate the emotions of a
departing employee to keep him or her until he can be released at a time when
it is less inconvenient or embarrassing.
It doesn’t matter what the boss says are the reasons for his action.
Counter-offers are only given because of a notice to resign and they
should be considered as highly dubious.
Well-managed companies and competent managers don’t make
counter-offers. They understand the damage that would be done by such
self-destructive actions both to their organizations and to their
Preventing Job Offer Problems
There are 3 steps to take to reduce as much as possible the chance of last minute changes of mind.
Discover the emotional reasons the candidate is considering a
During the interview stages, ask questions that uncover candidates’
emotional commitment to their employer and uncover current concerns that are
deep seated and unlikely to be resolved. Here are examples:
A) What do you like most and least about your current job?
B) What is it you enjoy the most and least about your current
boss? (Note: in most cases people quit the boss rather than
C) Describe your most and least favoured jobs that you’ve had in your career?
D) Which of all your bosses did you most and least enjoy working with?
Walk candidates through the mental process of resigning and
starting with a new company.
It is important that people understand what they will face when they
attempt to leave their employer – especially if the person is a
long-term employee. They must visualize the process so are ready when the time
comes. Questions that allow this discovery include:
A) What is it you will miss when you leave your current company?
B) What will be the biggest problems you will face in leaving your current company?
C) Has your company ever given counter-offers to employees who resign?
Connect with candidates early and often.
Relate with candidates on an emotional level regularly and be attentive
to changes in their behaviour or responsiveness. Do not
expect candidates keep you up-to-date if they suddenly have
second thoughts about changing employers -- especially in Asia.
A) Has anything changed for better or worse at your current company?
B) What have your family (or friends) said about you possibly changing jobs?
C) Do you think the role we are speaking with you about will be right for you?
D) On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited are you to work for our company?
3 steps should allow you to detect early on whether a candidate will be
at risk of declining the role or accepting a counter-offer. It is not
fail safe but it will considerably improve the consistency of your
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CEO Forum is operated as a CSR (Corporate Social
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The star-studded Board of Judges of Asia CEO Awards give
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throughout the world call upon the Principals of Chalre Associates for thought leadership.
Below are some examples of published material written by our
consultants or international journalists who refer to them. For a complete list of published work,
Getting Ready For The
Deluge: Outsourcing in Philippines
Chalre Associates senior staff
Economist Intelligence Unit of the Economist magazine
asked Chalre Associates' Chairman, Richard Mills,
to write a chapter about the Philippine outsourcing sector
in its annual Business Guide Book. The material
provides a Executive Briefing on the progress and major
issues facing this industry that is certainly one of most
significant growth stories in the world.
Asia Pacific Mining
Conference 2007 - Report
Chalre Associates senior staff
The 7th Asia Pacific Mining Conference put on by the Asean
Federation of Mining Associations was perhaps the largest
such event in the region. Richard Mills, Chairman of Chalre Associates
gave this report on what was said by the prominent mining
people who presented.
State of BPO in Philippines: Dan Reyes Speaks
Chalre Associates senior staff
Mills, Chairman of Chalre Associates,
interviewed Dan Reyes of Sitel for ComputerWorld (US) recently to get
his views on the state of the BPO industry in Philippines. Dan
presented US readers with compelling information to support his view
that Philippines is currently seen as the "Number 1" option by global
companies sending BPO work to offshore destinations.
Dan Reyes is easily one of most experienced Business Process
Outsourcing (BPO) managers in the Asia Pacific region and the world. He
is head of the extremely successful Philippine operations of Sitel, the
world's largest call center organization. Among other things, he is a
founder and former president of the Business Processing Association of
the Philippines. more