Quitting when my employer has big plans for me
March 26, 2014 9:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm ready to give my notice, with an end date of April 30. However, my department has some huge projects coming up that were taken on with the assumption I would be around to design them, and, well, I don't want to be.

Why I'm quitting: I've been the only designer/programmer at my branch office for three years. I've spent those three years barely keeping up, but I've never let a project fall down. Instead of hiring someone to assist me, my company decided to hire another project manager to feed me more assignments. That's not going to work for me, and I don't need the money, so I'm quitting.

My department took on three very large projects, all completing in the next 18 months. One of them is the largest project our department has ever taken on. The assumption was that I would be around to design and program these projects. If I'm not, they will need to be shuffled off to another branch to be completed. This will cause my company and a friend who I work with considerable trouble, and possibly cost them a large amount ($15K or more) of annual bonus. This is making me second guess myself, which I do not enjoy.

Some stuff to get out of the way:
  • This isn't a negotiating tactic. At this point, they could offer me double my wage and a fulltime assistant, and I would still leave.
  • I am not concerned with a reference or future work. I have a successful business that I have operated for two years and have grown into an income that rivals my job. I know shit happens, but for the purposes of this question it needn't be mentioned.
  • I'm in Canada so health insurance is a non issue.
  • We have no kids and a very healthy financial buffer.
  • My wife is more than on board. She has made it very clear she wants me to quit and devote more time to my other, more (financially and emotionally) rewarding pursuits.
In a case like this, do I have any responsibility to my company to stick around longer? Is a month's notice enough? Should I say something specifically to my friend to try to ease the blow? On the one hand, I feel like I am letting the company and my friend down. On the other hand, I'm not responsible for bidding on jobs or staffing decisions. On the other, other hand, my quitting will definitely cause a lot of stress for a friend, and it is very likely that it will cost them a large bonus. That friend is one of the two people I am required to give notice to, so that's extra awkward.

posted by anonymous to Work & Money (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
A month's notice is plenty. They're a business; every business makes assumptions like "we will have employees to do work" and every business has an obligation to make plans for if employees get sick or quit. You want to quit; you should quit. Their problem from then out.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:12 AM on March 26, 2014 [16 favorites]

Why can't you give your notice immediately?
posted by chowflap at 9:13 AM on March 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you have no obligation to the company or yourself to extend your employment any longer than you want to. I would give notice with the usual "I'm so grateful for the opportunity to have group with such an inspiring and truly wonderful team..." Leave on a very positive note, you deserve it. don't cave into their pleas to keep you longer, just say the usual "that won't be possible".
posted by waving at 9:15 AM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

At the end of the day, you have to do what's right for you. Look at it this way...There will always be an important job in the pipeline that your leaving will affect. There is no good time for you to leave, since you are such a key player. And, to be honest, it's exactly that fact that has made you decide to leave.

Give your notice. Don't waffle. Get out and get on with your future.

Good luck!
posted by Thorzdad at 9:15 AM on March 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

I think a month's notice is okay after three years.

Are you willing to consult for them? If you are -- I'd imagine not, but it's possible, depending on what your second business is -- you can offer to consult with them for up to X hours a week at a rate of Y for 6 months.

I'm not sure how much input your friend had into the "let's not hire anyone else and just take on more projects" decision, which would slightly change things, but this is the person who you can offer consulting to, should you decide to do that.
posted by jeather at 9:16 AM on March 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

A bus could hit you on the way home, and they'd be just as in trouble as if you leave. Put your notice in and let them worry about how to fix their problems, which are not your problems.
posted by TheAdamist at 9:20 AM on March 26, 2014 [9 favorites]

Give notice now. They can find another programmer in 30 days.

Def cover the consulting option the first time you are approached, otherwise, you could end up working for free after you've quit.

It's business. Not personal.
posted by jbenben at 9:21 AM on March 26, 2014

Why can't you give your notice immediately?

April 30th is about a month away at this point (just slightly over). Giving notice right away/very soon is probably exactly what OP has in mind.

posted by schroedingersgirl at 9:21 AM on March 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

And please, for the sake of your replacement, let them know exactly why you're leaving.
posted by chowflap at 9:21 AM on March 26, 2014 [6 favorites]

In a case like this, do I have any responsibility to my company to stick around longer?

Not as far as I can see. Unless you are somehow contractually obligated to your employer--which would require a mutual obligation on your employer's part--you can quit whenever you please. If they were counting on you, they should pay you as if they were.

Is a month's notice enough?


Should I say something specifically to my friend to try to ease the blow?

Assuming you and this person really are friends, you'll probably be talking with this person anyway. Say what you've got to say.

If you're willing, offer to stay on as a consultant just for those three projects. Ask for the equivalent of 50-100% more than your current hourly wage. Limit the consulting agreement to just those projects and leave when they're done. If the company isn't willing to do that, then either (1) they don't need you as much as you think they do, or (2) they've got sufficient management problems to make quitting a smart move anyway.
posted by valkyryn at 9:21 AM on March 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

I had an interview once where I asked my manager for a reference. He said, "But you're on a project." I replied that I was treated as staff, I didn't negotiate the project, and the project managers did. He gave me the reference. I didn't get the new job, but there was no ill will. *Disclaimer: I work in the public sector*

You're staff. You're not visible to the client because the project manager is. It isn't your project, it's the project manager's projects.
posted by DetriusXii at 9:26 AM on March 26, 2014

I've been there. I left. As far as I know, they survived. If they didn't have contingency plans for the careless bus driver scenario, that is their problem.
posted by wotsac at 9:39 AM on March 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

There's never a "good" time to quit, so just go for it. Also think of it the other way - they wouldn't hesitate to let you go because it might not be a good time for you.
posted by radioamy at 9:40 AM on March 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

A month is fine. If you're feeling generous, then take one of the projects as a contract job with a hefty fee.
posted by 26.2 at 9:41 AM on March 26, 2014

In a case like this, do I have any responsibility to my company to stick around longer?

No. Imagine if your employer would ever ask a question like "Hey, we were just going to let this guy go, but he bought a house and a car with the assumption he'd still be working here. Should we keep him around for another year or so?"

Business is business. They'll figure something out.
posted by mikepop at 9:43 AM on March 26, 2014 [11 favorites]

You seem to feel bad about leaving them in the lurch. Don't.

If the company hit an extended dry spell, or just decided that your position would be better handled by an outside contractor, do you think they would hesitate to lay you off? I don't.

It's just nothing personal, it's just business.
posted by adamrice at 9:45 AM on March 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

dammit, mikepop!
posted by adamrice at 9:45 AM on March 26, 2014

Oh, and 100% over wage plus a bit, 1040 taxes, is what I asked for, and received as a consulting rate. It was only barely enough to get me to sit down at the keyboard and wrap up the project. So keep that in mind.
posted by wotsac at 9:46 AM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you have total control over the situation, give notice and make up a transition plan.

I do like the idea of having the flexibility to do some consulting work during the transition.

But never feel guilty about leaving a job for something better (no matter what it is) because your job would never feel guilty about outsourcing your job if it made financial sense.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:14 AM on March 26, 2014

If you want to bend-over backwards for them, you could always offer to come in (at consulting rates) for 1 week to train a new person, if they haven't found your replacement by the time you leave.

Don't feel bad about leaving. Any manager that doesn't have a plan in place for team members leaving isn't qualified for their job. You owe your boss the amount of work it takes to get your next paycheque, your commitment shouldn't extend beyond that.

And I say that as someone who manages a team of programmers. I'm only their manager when they're on the clock, what they do with personal time, or their lives is their business. I would prefer people be happy and successful, if they can do it at my employer, I'll do everything I can to facilitate that. If they can't then it's better for everyone that they move on.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:23 AM on March 26, 2014

If it were me, I'd talk to the friend so it doesn't take them by surprise.

Your friend's bonus is not being jeopardized by your leaving; it's being jeopardized by the business's failure to understand and address the inadequacies of their staffing and processes. If the company will be thrown into such turmoil by your leaving, then it's not being run as well as it should be.

That is not your problem, that is management's problem.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:43 AM on March 26, 2014 [6 favorites]

The most popular response to these questions on MeFi tends to be, "you don't owe them anything and the company would never give you the same consideration." This is true, but given that you have personal relationships with other staff who are friends of yours, giving some consideration to not making their lives a nightmare in your wake is closer to what I'd attempt to do.

Let your supervisor know immediately and help with the transition as best as you can. This isn't an invitation for them to walk all over you, but to have you help to make the transition easier by leaving very good notes about your process, helping your colleagues take over your tasks, giving your inputs on hiring if they want you to, etc. Since you're transitioning to your own business, you can also feel freer to tell management that they need to hire your replacement as well as an assistant or additional member of your team to help with the workload if they expect to be successful with upcoming projects.
posted by quince at 10:44 AM on March 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

I don't know about Canada, but in the US, pretty much any employer will lay staff off in a heartbeat. A supervisor may know layoffs are coming but be unable to talk about it, so will see you buying that house or whatever, knowing that you will be unemployed soon. There is no loyalty, no partnership. Employers should understand that staff may leave, and plan accordingly. In this case, you've probably been underpaid, and they enjoyed that.

You have a responsibility to document what you do, to leave things in good order when you go, to make the departure as smooth as possible.

If they're smart, they'll offer you money to consult.

It really sucks for your co-worker, but that's not on you.
posted by theora55 at 2:07 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was in situation similar to the OP's.

When I walked into my employer's office to give six week's notice, his first response was to ask why I hadn't notified him earlier. The subsequent month and a half involved hiring my replacement, training him, and writing a ton of documentation for him, mostly while continuing the same level of productive work I had before giving notice.

Like other respondents, I did paid consulting work (long-distance) for my ex-employer for a few months after leaving, before cutting ties completely.

There's no good reason to burn bridges, even if you haven't been on good terms with everybody during your tenure. Try to leave on a high note and keep cordial ties with former coworkers if you can. They may only appreciate you after you're gone, especially if your replacement can't manage as well as you did, and they'll be good personal references if you have to job hunt elsewhere in the future.
posted by at by at 4:52 PM on March 26, 2014

Go ahead and give your notice as soon as you're 100% sure you're leaving. And leave open the door for part time contract work.
posted by empath at 6:15 PM on March 26, 2014

In regard to the folks saying that you can do contract work... sure, you can. But you don't HAVE to. You get to decide if that is something you want to do or not. If you are fully engaged in your new business and you don't want to do contract work for your former employer, you don't have to.
posted by CathyG at 8:58 AM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mod note: From the OP:
Thank you all for the input. With the ideas put forward in this thread in mind, I put in my notice today. My friend took it well and wished me the best, which was a big relief. There was some resistance from our branch manager, and I wound up having to explain that either we work out a transition plan, or I give him two weeks and stop coming in. That did the trick.

Final result: I stay on full time until April 30 and then cut to half time for a max of 2 weeks while my theoretical replacement gets his or her pins under him or her. I've also negotiated an hourly rate for programming jobs in the future, with the right to refuse any work I choose. This last was a direct result of some of the advice here, and was welcomed by everyone concerned.

As an aside everyone was right about me not being as critical/irreplaceable as I thought, although that was the tack my branch manager took in trying to convince me to stay. The work I had lined up is going to be shuffled to another branch until my replacement is ready, and while that's not ideal it's also a perfectly workable solution.

Thanks again Ask, you all rock.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:33 PM on March 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

« Older How to avoid embarrassment in bed?   |   Boston...pot. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.