General Question

Curiouser's avatar

how do i quit my job with as little conflict as possible?

Asked by Curiouser (14points) June 28th, 2007

we're in the middle of a gigantic multi-million dollar project and i'm a key player. but i want to get my masters. now.

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9 Answers

figbash's avatar

This is how I would do it:

A) Review your HR handbook to see what you can take in terms of paid vacation, benefits etc. to see what you can leave with.

B) Write up a classy letter of resignation, detailing how great this company has been to work for and how it has primed you to move forward with your education. Give one to your boss, and one copy for HR. Always leave on a high note.

C) Start detailing your job duties so it's easy to train your replacement. Make it obvious that you have been thoughtful and highly detailed about the transition.

D) Give as much time as possible. Two weeks is standard, of course, but three weeks makes you look incredibly gracious. Offer to take calls early in the transition.

E) Don't criticize anyone or anything. Just leave keeping the whole tone of the resignation positive.

F) Train the heck out of your replacement. Do everything you can to ensure they've got a good shot at succeeding. It's only fair to them.

Even if we want to believe that the organization will fall down around itself if we leave, really, that's not the case ; ) If you cover at least all of these bases, you should be able to leave conflict-free.

bw's avatar

Great thoughts Cristi!

I'd also see if there's any way they can keep you on as a part time contractor to take care of a few things in your spare time. It might be nice to get some part time income while working on your masters and it would also let them phase you out more gradually. Of course it depends on if this is something your job description would allow.

figbash's avatar

Absolutely! I would have suggested the same thing; I did that while I was pursuing my Masters and it made things a million times easier.

My other question would be whether or not the place you're currently working is in the same field as what you'd like to pursue your degree in. In many cases, companies will pay for all, or subsidize part of your degree. I'd check into this soon. I may be getting ahead of myself on this one, but you could potentially negotiate to get your hours knocked down, retain your HR benefits and have part of your degree paid for, if you work it right.

Or, you may just want to drop out of project land for awhile and really enjoy the full-time grad student experience. The bubble of academia is a really, really nice life.

Good luck!

mdy's avatar

The main factors, IMHO, are:
1. Existing company policy
2. How key your current role is
3. How well your current role is documented
4. How well the project is going
5. What commitments you've already made

In my industry, 30 days notice is minimum for most team members. Key players in projects (such as the project manager) don't get the key role unless they're willing to make a conscious, verbal commitment to stay at least until the projected end of the project. ( Meaning, if the project is expected to last four months, you make a verbal commitment to stay at least those four months. If the project runs behind schedule, that's a different story and you're off the hook. )

You're going to be the best judge as to how important your current role is, and you should have some understanding as to how long it will take to get someone else up to speed on the specifics of the project (assuming they're able to quickly find someone who has the same skill sets as you). So don't give two weeks notice if you know realistically that two weeks won't be enough to get someone else up to speed.

Since you're playing a major role in the project, it's likely that your mid-project departure will cause the project to slip behind schedule while they find your replacement. People will be terribly unhappy about schedule slippages, considering the costs that are at stake.

A lot also depends on how well documented your role in the project is -- meaning, how much of the project knowledge is just in your head, and how much is recorded accurately and completely in the project documentation?

If you've got a fully documented project, you'll have an easier time exiting because people will be more confident that another warm body can come in and pick things up where you left off.

If the project is running on time, on schedule, within budget and everyone's feeling confident of success, then you'll have a better chance of leaving with no hard feelings.

If the project is behind schedule, where everyone's overworked, and the budget has been shot to hell, then you're going to be perceived as someone who is abandoning ship. Your departure will be demoralizing to the remaining team members who have to pick up the slack while they look for your replacement.

If you've set expectations about "seeing things through until the end" for example, you're going to be burning a few bridges if you don't live up to those commitments.

You obviously have a sense that your departure is going to create waves, otherwise you wouldn't be asking this question. If your premature departure is going to be received so badly that people will call you "unprofessional" or will likely tag you as "do not rehire" in your personnel file, then you'll have to weigh whether that's worth you starting your schooling *now*.

I get the impression that this is a very visible project within your company or your industry. Contributing to any delays in a highly visible, multi-million dollar project is bad for your career in the long run. Plus once you're gone, people can always scape-goat you as the reason for any future problems that arise, whether or not you're really to blame.

Having said all that, I think the main things to keep in mind are:

a) negotiate with the powers that be as to how much notice you realistically need to give, regardless of what the official policy is.

b) make sure that your role is fully documented, so people feel less panicked about you suddenly leaving.

c) Taking on a part-time contractual role is a good idea *only if* you are able to give the project the attention that it deserves on a part-time basis. I've seen people attempt the juggling act of school and part-time work, and fail miserably. One or both ends up suffering. You have to judge whether or not you can competently handle both.

In my last job, I was recruited by another company while I was in the middle of a project with my old firm. I explained to my prospective employer that I didn't want to leave until I completed the work on my current project. As it turns out, my new employer was willing to wait to hire me because he had the assurance that I wouldn't abandon his projects once I was on board. I gave my previous employer four (4) months notice and had a very clean exit. I know they'll not think twice about re-hiring me.

A final note -- it's unlikely that you just woke up this morning with the sudden, overwhelming urge to go back to school. People don't get accepted to a master's program overnight. So if you've not dropped any hints before now about wanting to go back to school, people may be skeptical about your need to quit so suddenly. You may get some questions about that.

niemand's avatar

Read dilbert comics. Start acting like shown in the dilbert comics. Either you get promoted or your career ends right there :)

Curiouser's avatar

Well to everyone who answered and is curious: I put in my notice today. It was a hectic day, so a lot of the people that I'm worried about upsetting don't know yet, but so far my boss, our department head and the HR director have been very congratulatory.

I should have mentioned that I've already been accepted to the grad program -- which I applied to without much seriousness last winter (because I never dreamed I'd be accepted), before I was promoted to this position.

Unfortunately, in response to some of the items above, a lot of this stuff is in my head, but we're early enough into the process that one month will be enough to document those things. The project is also partly in disarray, which I don't feel good about. But the program I'm going into will help me gain a slew of skills and help me transition into a different but related field, which is a goal of mine that extends far beyond the life of this project.

In short: Though my timing is pretty awful, I do not anticipate having personal regrets about enrolling in this program, which at the end of the day is really what this is all about. Thanks so much to everyone who commented. I have been grappling with this for months and needed the support/nudge.

mdy's avatar

Congratulations, Curiouser! Good luck on the next leg of your adventure. 8-)

One other bit of (unsolicited) advice that I can share is this: in your remaining weeks on the job, work that job like it's the most important thing in the world to you.

It's human nature to not put as much effort and energy into a job since you've already served your notice and you'll naturally be focused on what's next. But here's where you have a chance to be different and memorable -- simply work with intensity all the way to your last day, and people will remember you as a someone who was professional every step of the way.

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kevinhardy's avatar

just walk out on them, leave without saying good bye

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