How to announce to my boss that I'm quitting?
December 22, 2010 8:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to quit the great job I've had for the past 6 years for personal reasons. I'm in charge of a lot of projects and I'm stressed about the transition with my future successor. I'm looking for advice on how to handle this situation.

I come from a small town (2 000 people) in New Brunswick, Canada. When I finished university in 2004, I decided to move to Quebec City 450 miles away to get a job.

I've been working at the same small company (12 people) for 6 years now. Things have always been great here:
- I'm good at what I'm doing (I don't remember ever being reprimanded)
- The pay is good (probably not the best out there but enough for me to live comfortably)
- No crazy deadlines (stress is almost non-existent)
- I like pretty much all of my colleagues

But over the years, I realized that one thing has always left me empty: pretty much all of my friends and family are back in New Brunswick. I think about them every single day, I love them so much that I’ve never felt like making new friends here. Of course I’ve met a bunch of people here and became good friend with a few, but it’s not the same. New Brunswick is the place I consider home.

I always thought I would never be able to get a job back home but I was recently approached for a very good one. I’m going for an interview during the holidays and I’m pretty sure I’m gonna land the job.

That being said, I’m really stressed about telling my boss that I’m quitting. I’m stressed because I don’t work in a big team that can easily take over my projects. We are three PHP developers, but the other two are working full time for a single client and I’m in charge of all the other projects. We have so much work lined up that we hired a new employee just a month ago to help me.

I'm stressed because the timing isn’t great, but I feel this is an opportunity I *have* to grab. Otherwise I know I’ll have regrets for a very long time. This isn’t a professional decision, but a personal one.

I’ve been visualizing the upcoming discussion with my boss countless times and it makes me nervous every time I think about it. I’m looking for advice on how to gracefully handle this.
posted by kag to Work & Money (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The best thing you can do for your old company is to give as much notice as possible. If you want to be over-the-top kind and gentle to them, negotiate the latest start date you can stand for your new job, and then immediately give notice at your old job. Hopefully, they can find someone to take your job before you leave.

However, I'll also point out that you are thinking about this like a personal relationship, and it's not. If your projects dried up and you were no longer bringing in enough money to cover your salary, you'd be let go, and likely with the minimum notice they could get away with. Similarly, they are no longer paying you enough to make it worth your while to work there. It's not personal: you're just making a business calculation. Be kind, and let them know how much you've enjoyed the job and benefited from working with everyone, but do what you need to do for yourself. Only a complete jerk would take your quitting personally.
posted by decathecting at 8:53 PM on December 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

Is there a future successor in mind? If so, I'd approach the person you had in mind and see if they are willing to take on the responsibility.
posted by mulligan at 8:54 PM on December 22, 2010

Response by poster: @decathecting: Giving them as much notice as possible is something I was already planning, thanks for the reminder.

@mulligan: Unfortunately, no successor in mind. I don't even know anyone who codes PHP for a living.
posted by kag at 9:05 PM on December 22, 2010

I know you won't believe me - but try. I've left smaller shops than that, even.... and I fretted and felt awful and was sure the sky would fall - but it didn't. You will be shocked (shocked!) at how replaceable you are. Your resignation will be a pain in the ass, for sure, but that's really the extent of it.
posted by moxiedoll at 9:14 PM on December 22, 2010 [6 favorites]

I think the best thing you can do is document the hell out of your work before you leave, for the benefit of your boss and whoever replaces you.

Employees leaving is something every company has to deal with. Don't feel bad about looking out for yourself.
posted by auto-correct at 9:42 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yep, I felt this way leaving my last job and I made all kinds of timetables and project folders and CDs and info packets for my successor and coworkers to carry on my projects. I don't know if they ever used any of them but nothing fell apart. I had a finger in at least 2 dozen projects at the time, some of them absurdly complicated. People steeped up and got it done and I'm still very good friends with my ex-colleagues and on good terms with the organization so it all worked out fine.

And I'm SO happy I took the new job. It was for a lot of the reasons that you mention in your post and it's really been wonderful.
posted by fshgrl at 9:45 PM on December 22, 2010

Start documenting things and wrapping up loose ends ASAP. Even if the new job doesn't come through, anything you do to make your job easier for your successor will likely make things easier for you too.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:55 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've quit jobs on good terms several times and the number one thing I did to make me feel better was leave my email address with the understanding that if they can't find where I kept something or need a phone number or whatever, they're welcome to contact me. No one has ever abused it, it keeps goodwill all around, and I feel better knowing my widdle pwoject can call home if it gets in trouble.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:15 PM on December 22, 2010

Everyone else has covered all the main bases, but you can also just say to your boss, "I've loved this job, I hate to leave, and I want to make the transition as easy as possible on you all. What can I do?" I've offered old jobs that if they got in a jam, I'd do some evening or weekend work for them or even try to do evening and weekend consulting for awhile. They all have managed to move on without me, just as your company will.
posted by salvia at 12:01 AM on December 23, 2010

You're getting good advice here. Another reason not to feel bad: your boss gets paid to handle situations like this.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 3:05 AM on December 23, 2010

On top of the advice above: Make a list of all the projects you are handling, their current status, and what still needs to be done. These will be your "syllabus" for making a smooth handoff to the person(s) who will be taking over these projects. If any project can be completed very quickly and easily before you leave, do that. But remember that the time between giving your notice and when you leave for good should primarily be spent on transitioning your responsibilities to other people so disruption is minimized. This means that, as your time winds down, you'll need to pester the powers-that-be about any projects that haven't been handed off yet.
posted by DrGail at 5:07 AM on December 23, 2010

If you have a company-issued cell phone, suggest that you keep it for a specific period of time, maybe 4 to 6 weeks, after you leave in order to remain available to your successor. I did this once and it worked out great. My employer continued to provide the phone and used it as a "help desk" when questions arose.
posted by raisingsand at 7:18 AM on December 23, 2010

Best answer: If your current company had to lay you off for financial reasons, they would. Your manager might feel bad about it, but he/she would do it. That's part of the job. They like you and all, but business is business.

That goes for you too. Business is business. You should make it as easy as possible for them because they've been nice to you, but there is no deeper responsibility here. I have a better opportunity, I am going to take it, it's been great, I'll always look back on this experience fondly, would you like me to help train my replacement?

Oh, one more thing. You aren't critical. I know, we all like to believe that without us the company would go down the tubes, but it's never true. Remember that time you went on vacation? The company managed just fine, didn't it? It'll be like that. The other two employees will freak out for a bit, they'll hire some new person and things will go back to normal.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 8:18 AM on December 23, 2010

You have to do what's right for you. Tell them as early as possible, offer to help with the transition as much as you can, maybe consult for a couple of days over the phone or offer to come back once a month for questions from your team and future replacement (negotiate this with the future position, they should be flexible and admire your commitment). And, most importantly, try not to worry about it. You are not doing anything wrong.

Every time I've had to leave a job it was tough, change is difficult. There is an underlying inertia and fear of stepping into something new, and it expresses itself as attachment to the team, the job, how appreciated you are, all the years you've spent there. This is natural. But every time I've moved on, looking back it always seemed the right decision.

I believe from what you've written it will be the same for you, so don't be too tough on yourself. Have an open conversation with the powers that be at your current work, try to help them with the transition as best you can, don't burn any bridges, and move on to the next phase of your life.

Best wishes and best of luck.
posted by yoz420 at 8:54 AM on December 23, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you all for taking the time to reply.

I ended up going to the interview during the holidays and I told my boss about the situation as soon as I came back to work. I told him that I had been to an interview but I had not heard back from them yet. But it was possible that I might be quitting soon. It went really well and he understood why I was doing this.

The next day, he asked me to come in his office. I knew he was going to make me an offer, I expected a bit more money (even if I already had told him it wasn't a money issue). Instead, he offered me to keep my job and still move back in my hometown. I was stunned and asked for a few days to think about it.

Two days later, I received an offer from the other company (large corporation). They offered about $7,000 more than my current salary. I have a friend who works there who told me I could probably make a counter offer for $3,000 on top of that.

The next day I met with my boss and explained that while I wasn't going after the money, $10,000 a year is a lot of money. He said the company really wants to keep me and that they would match that offer. Once again I was stunned!

I took the weekend to talk about with my girlfriend, friends and family and I accepted his offer and will be moving in my hometown in a few months.
posted by kag at 8:36 PM on January 28, 2011

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