I love working here so much I'm planning on leaving!
January 19, 2014 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Am I an asshole for saying, acting, and making plans as if I will be there forever while working on my strategy to leave in the next month?

I have worked in Role A for 5 years at a large company and am negotiating a final offer to transfer to Role B (same company, different department). My current supervisor is not aware I have interviewed (or have been looking). My position is permanent but renewed annually; it is up for renewal in February but she has said I will be renewed and I have given the impression I would happily stay.

I am planning on giving two weeks notice when I have Role B Final Offer Letter signed and in hand but that could take two weeks. I am not going to giving any kind of warning or notice to Role A until Role B is set in stone.

Complication: three Group A senior people have suddenly left since November so things are being restructured and everyone is overstretched, overworked, and stressed. I am expected (and have agreed to) take on additional responsibilities that have major impact on Group A success. Timelines and such are being planned around me. There are tight deadlines requiring practical techniques (which take months to acquire - now only I possess them since they are proprietary to the department, and the only other users were the workers who left!) and project-specific knowledge to meet them in the next four months.

Despite the stress I'm in a great mood most of the time - I'm very excited about a new opportunity and this makes me feel like more of a jerk while working Job A.

How do I stay engaged and involved at Role A until I give notice?

How do I look after my own interests without feeling like a hypocritical liar and feeling stressed out all day for keeping a gigantic secret?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There is absolutely no reason you have to give only two weeks notice. If you're 100% sure the other job is going to happen, you can give notice right now. I gave two months notice when I left my last job.

The main concern is that you don't want to give notice and then find out the other job isn't going to happen.
posted by empath at 10:14 AM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, unless your company is unusually competitive between departments, I don't think there's much risk at all to telling them that you're looking to switch to another team at the same company.
posted by empath at 10:17 AM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since you're staying at the company, once the job offer is in hand, surely your old boss and new boss can work together to figure out a transition strategy so you can train your soon-to-be-former coworkers.
posted by acidic at 10:21 AM on January 19, 2014 [24 favorites]

There is never a perfect time to leave a job--there will always be unfinished projects, plans, and work that hinges on your doing it. So don't feel bad that your timing isn't great.

That said, you'll make people much happier if you can come up with a clear plan for Group A that shows them how they'll make it without you (perhaps including names of people who could take over your role). That's a much greater gift to them than an extra two weeks of notice.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:37 AM on January 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

You (and some of the commenters) are acting like these are two different jobs and it's no problem to burn bridges with A once you've settled things with B, but this is absolutely not the case. It is totally possible that you will give notice to A and they will say "whoah, you can't leave!" and you will talk to B and they say "sorry, we can't hire you, company policy is the current boss has to approve transfers" and you will be stuck at A with your boss angry with you.

Unless your boss is actively dysfunctional and B has made it clear that they're willing to not just hire you but fight for you, you had better have a conversation with your current boss ASAP and find out what *they* think is a reasonable timeline for you to move on.
posted by inkyz at 10:42 AM on January 19, 2014 [15 favorites]

Also, I would be mentally counting on doing both jobs for a couple months after the transfer goes through.
posted by inkyz at 10:43 AM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you chatted with HR and the appropriate VPs and whatnot?

When I've done internal transfers at large companies, I've gotten (and got my new manager) in trouble for not having the transfer been organized through the proper channels. I'd triple check who needs to know what for this to happen.
posted by colin_l at 10:46 AM on January 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yeah, I'd lean the way acidic is stating. Once you have decided that you are moving over, your acceptance needs to be contingent on your new boss working with your old boss to transfer off you as quickly as possible. This may be as little as two weeks, this may be much more involved. Your new boss though needs to help drive this conversation and set time tables. Your old boss sounds like he/she is hosed regardless of whether you leave. If you gave two weeks on top of it though, you'd put your company in a bad position, your old boss in a worse position, and you'd be making bad blood between divisions. That's a bad plan.

Instead, use this to help elevate your status - fall up. Tell your new boss that while two weeks is the customary timeline for being able to transition into new role, it may take longer because you are a critical component. Ask your new boss what the latest date that you need to be fully up to speed in your new role is, and ask if it is possible for the three of you to work on a transition schedule that gets you up to speed for your new job, but provides appropriate sensitivity to the changing dynamic of your prior position. Get the two of them to hammer out a firm transition END date.

So with very rough language I might write something that looks like this.

Dear Boss1;

I want to thank you for the opportunities Division1 has provided me. With these skills, I have accepted a position within Division2 of our company performing JOB. I will begin to work in Role2 in two weeks. Boss2, my manager in Division2 has indicated that they understand the potential challenges my departure may bring and as such are willing to work on a period of X additional weeks with you to ensure that my duties are properly handed off . During that transition period, I will be splitting my time and my responsibilities between departments.

Once again, I want to thank you for the many things I have learned from you, and I look forward to helping our department through this transition.


posted by Nanukthedog at 10:47 AM on January 19, 2014

I wouldn't feel too bad about it. This is how these things work. You can't possibly warn your current employer about a job you don't have yet. I wouldn't tell your current division about it until you get the job because they may want to keep you and try to sabotage it -- since it's within the same company, it would be very easy for them to interfere. Once you get the job though, you could let the company decide when to switch you over since it's all under that company's umbrella.

I think you should start thinking ahead and make sure whatever you do is easily picked up by someone else, or try to tie up any projects before you leave. If you can give three weeks notice and think that would help them, you could. Or, since it's the same company, you can offer to answer questions and help with training after you've left for whoever comes into replace you. Just make it clear you have a new job and you can't do actual work or be responsible for what happens in your old role.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:51 AM on January 19, 2014

Once you have the letter in hand, you call a meeting with your boss and explain. You give them written notice that you have been offered the other position. You ask if your boss and the new boss and you can work together to create a transition strategy.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:52 AM on January 19, 2014

If you're 100% sure the other job is going to happen

You're never 100% sure. Maybe the person hiring you gets hit by a bus tomorrow. Maybe there's a fire in Job B's facility and they're all laid off while rebuilding happens. Maybe Corporate finds out $BADTHING about Job B and freezes their hiring immediately.

Tell your boss about it now, and Job B tanks for some reason, and hey you're not renewed after all.

How do I look after my own interests without feeling like a hypocritical liar

By treating $BIGCOMPANY in the way that it treats you: an entirely mercenary and self-interested way.

And in any case, even when the final offer comes through, that doesn't make it a done deal -- presumably your current boss will have some capacity to make you a counteroffer of some sort. Maybe making you actual permanent instead of reviewed annually, or more money, or a better title, or some combination thereof. So long as you're willing to consider their counteroffer in good faith, you're fine.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:44 AM on January 19, 2014

Please educate yourself about how internal transfers work in your organisation and consider what strategic/political/interpersonal conflicts there may be between the two groups, between whoever overseas each group and what problems these may cause in this process. Then manage that process. Don't trust HR or anybody else to have your interests at heart here because they don't.

I am slightly concerned about all this advice you had to say nothing to your old boss. Unless that is the established process for internal transfers in your organisaiton I'd be astonished if group B did not actually contact group A at some point in the process. If that's the first time your current boss hears about this it won't go down well. Even if they don't contact the group directly it will go up and down the chain of command in both groups and if your old boss hears about this for the first time when their boss mentions it or asks about it that will not go down well either....

Whilst my organisation is generally one that supports people moving internally the one time I made an internal transfer, I had the cluster leader on the phone less than a day after contacting my new team about the role. It was just as well I had cleared my application with my local office before contacting the new team and in fact he rang up to check I had done just that...or so he said.

Having said that my old office did reallocate my portfolio the same morning I accepted the new job, so do not feel guilty about leaving anybody in the lurch. You are totally replaceable.

But you should worry about burning bridges with the people you used to work with so ensure you do follow proper process about this transfer. And help smooth the transition process once the transfer goes through.

That doesn't mean they can expect you to do both jobs for a while. But it does mean that you document what you do and why, make yourself available for a handover to new person if at all possible and be available for specific questions later on. If they push you to do more discuss this with your new boss and get them to help you say no. You cannot perform in your new role if you spend a large chunk of your time doing old role...
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:42 PM on January 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

Well, most of us leave jobs at some point. We do them until we don't do them anymore. That goes for pretty much every job - they all end at some point, but it doesn't invalidate what they are while we're doing them.

The politics of this are what you have to watch though. I'm not sure what your organisation is like, but it's just something to be very mindful of.
posted by heyjude at 1:08 PM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

No, you're not a jerk for finding another job, but since you are moving within the same company, you would definitely be wise to give some extra thought to how you can handle this in a way that makes you look as professional as possible. Once you have the offer in hand, showing a willingness to negotiate the exact timing of your departure, and the terms of your handover, would be a good idea.
posted by rpfields at 1:18 PM on January 19, 2014

By letting them build a strategy that is predicated on you staying, know they have just lost several key team members, you are being dishonest. Not an asshole, but I would consider how this behaviour will make you look to your peers and higher-ups.

If you insist on following through with your plan not to give notice until you have an offer letter in your hand, I would be sure your current boss can't block your transfer.

At my last position (executive-level manager), all transfers out of my org had to be approved by me - and by no means was it a "formality". If I had built my strategy around you and you knew you were planning to leave but didn't tell me, I would have refused it based on the potential harm to the company. I also would have started questioning your ethics, as what you are doing is not, in my opinion, forthright and aboveboard.
posted by dotgirl at 1:39 PM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Boss B is presumably in favour of helping the company. Have you mentioned that you are likely to have issues with starting on two weeks' notice? IMO the right thing to do is to tell Boss B that you are currently fairly critical to team A, and that you think it would be best for the company if you were to stay there for X weeks, perhaps working in both departments at the same time for a while.
posted by katrielalex at 2:32 PM on January 19, 2014

Stop feeling bad about it. It is nothing personal but business only. Leave your emotions at the door when you go to work. Companies regard you as a value producing entity, that's it. They couldn't care less about who YOU are or your life or your emotions.

Figure out what works best for you, where you would be the least in trouble and then work on that plan. Surprised that your new boss and you didn't tell the old boss as part of the process but still, make sure you cover your base before you leave.
posted by Greenlight2b at 2:49 PM on January 19, 2014

Everyone does this. It's a business and you need to look out for your best interests.

Stay engaged because you never know when you will see these people again - in a future company or on the other side of an interview desk! So just remember that after companies are long gone, relationships are remembered. That's how to stay engaged.

There's a saying "Don't leave until you've left." i.e. don't mentally check out of your current job just because you have a parachute on. People will remember your last work most recently, so if you slack off for the final 6 months, this is what they will remember.

And when you quit, you avoid looking like a hypocrite by sincerely saying, "I love the projects we were working on and I really want to know how XYZ goes so please keep in touch. If you have any questions about the work I did previously feel free to contact me. I wish I could stay, but this job offer was a really good fit."

Time your quitting well
... make it during a lull point, or give them plenty of heads-up and work very hard to transfer knowledge and make it as seamless as possible for them.

And finally... you may find that they didn't care as much as you thought they would. Everyone leaves eventually and I've seen even the most beloved workers disappear. That's work life.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:10 PM on January 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have had internal transfers blocked because my current boss 'couldn't lose me'.

You need to talk to your boss and find out how these work at your company. Honestly I'd be shocked if they didn't already know.
posted by winna at 3:10 PM on January 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't think you're being a jerk. As others have mentioned, you might want to talk to your boss, but not because it's the nice thing to do. Talk to your boss if you think he might impede your getting the transfer or if you think it might help for future employment in terms of getting a great recommendation.

In my company, I've seen people transferred to new departments for any number of random reasons. The company transfers people if they want to transfer people. It's not as though they care how one particular employee feels.
posted by parakeetdog at 3:18 PM on January 19, 2014

You stay engaged and involved in Role A until you're in Role B, not "until [you] give notice." You just do. It's your job. You go to work and do your job, and you do that job better than you ever would have done it before, because you're going to be leaving it for someone else to finish. (And because you still work for this company!) From my own recent experience, after I interviewed for my new job, I was checked out at my current job right up until I gave notice--and then I checked right back in, because I had so much to do before I left. If you don't naturally check back in on your own, then you need to get yourself out of the "I have a new job!" mentality and into the "I work at the same company! This is still my job, even if it's completely different than what I'll be doing 30 days from now!" mentality. You can't afford to burn bridges at a company you're not leaving.

I have no advice to give re: telling your current boss or not. Your description of the company--like the current boss not knowing you applied for a transfer, or like you thinking you're going to be giving notice instead of being told when to show up at the new department--is completely out of line with my experience at a mammoth multinational. The advice about familiarizing yourself with your company's transfer policy (w/r/t your current boss being able to block your transfer) and your company's transfer culture is good; you should heed it and go from there.
posted by coast99 at 6:08 PM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've seen people terminated for the maneuvers you describe. But I guess that depends on the culture of your company.

As for when things get difficult or I am feeling distracted by private pressures, I try to imagine that everyone two steps up the ladder is monitoring my professionalism. I don't have to be perfect but I need to keep performing the work that I am paid to do.
posted by 99percentfake at 8:34 AM on January 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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