Instead of accepting vague assurances, ask for a written agreement with a clear deadline.

Share story

Q: About 18 months ago, I was heavily recruited by one of my company’s competitors. When I mentioned this to my boss, I explained that I would prefer to stay if certain changes could be made to my job. Both he and his manager agreed to my proposal, so I declined the other offer.

Unfortunately, management has failed to follow through with their commitment, even though I provided several reminders. Now another competitor is recruiting me, but I would still rather stay here. However, I don’t know if the changes I want will ever occur. What should I do?

A: According to a wise old saying, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Therefore, you can reasonably assume that your bosses will continue to avoid any modifications which they have previously refused to make. Of course, you can always try again, using the most recent job offer as leverage.

If you have specific wishes, like higher pay or a new title, you just need to become a better negotiator. Instead of accepting vague assurances, ask for a written agreement with a clear deadline. But if your requests are more ambiguous — for example, having greater autonomy or less pressure — compliance will be hard to enforce unless you have clearly defined action steps.

Either way, however, there is always a chance that management will disappoint you again. So in making this decision, you should weigh the competitor’s offer against your current working conditions.

Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.