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I currently work for a consulting company in the tech space. A few months back, we took on a project that was far too big for our team to handle, with too low a budget, and too short a timeline.

Months later, the project is a mess. The client is unhappy and the entire team is burned out beyond belief; our lives have revolved around this project for far too long.

I've been offered a job at another company - one that seems like a better fit for me. I worry if I were to leave this project in the state that it's in, my current employer would be sued by the client.

Part of me feels as though it's the management's fault for taking on such a project and overworking me and my teammates. But the reality is still that this may have an impact on other members of the team (whom I like and respect) if the lawsuit were to lead to layoffs, etc.

How can I resign in such a way to minimize the risk or fallout of my employer being sued? Or should I just stick it out until this project comes to an end?

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Hi Jason, I have edited your question slightly to make it more on topic here. Legal questions are off topic but I think your core question here is great. If I changed the intent too much let me know or feel free to edit your question - great question! –  enderland Aug 12 at 20:30
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Lawsuit aside, what leads you to conclude that those colleagues who you like and respect are not just as capable of finding better jobs as you, and just as eager and willing to do so? From your description it hardly sounds like they're loving their current job(s). –  aroth Aug 13 at 4:34

6 Answers 6

Part of me feels as though it's the management's fault for taking on such a project and overworking me and my teammates.

You are probably correct, and that is why you can't do much about it yourself. Whether you stay or go, it appears the company has mishandled this project. Your departure won't change that fact. If the company gets sued I don't think it will be because you left. If the company is large enough to withstand this lawsuit and survive, it won't matter if you leave. If the company can not withstand this lawsuit, one person more or less is probably not going to make a difference.

I think it is commendable that you are concerned about the impact on your co-workers, but this is really management's problem, and the best you can do is save yourself from the future pain.

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Good answer, I would just add that if Jason had caused the project to fail the company wouldn't hesitate a second to fire Jason. Jason, once your best interests diverge from that of your employer it's probably time to start looking for a new gig. Nothing personal, that's business. –  Jim In Texas Aug 12 at 22:04
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"If the ship's not sinking then the rats must be the ones not leaving." It's not your personal fault or responsibility, that lies with management. In the long run, nobody will thank you for your sacrifices so you should leave. Head for the life rafts while they're still above water. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 13 at 6:28

it's the management's fault for taking on such a project and overworking me and my teammates

Correct. This business relationship is owned by your company, not by you. If what you say about your project is even partly true, your company dug this pit for themselves. There's nothing you can do, that you haven't already tried very hard indeed to do, to fix the situation.

Unless you're the account manager, you don't have to worry about sorting out the consequences of your departure with this client. Indeed, you should not insert yourself into this business relationship.

It is good and loyal for you to worry about your coworkers' increased workload if you resign. Keep in mind that your resignation may be the reality-check that's necessary for everybody to rethink this project. This may be the most kindest act of all.

What can you do? Give plenty of notice, and offer to work hard to give a smooth transition. You can go to your boss and say, "I have decided to take another job. My last day here will be (two weeks in the future) unless you want me to stay for another two weeks. I am committed to providing as smooth a transition as I possibly can. Thanks for the opportunity to work with you!"

The other thing you can do to ease the transition is a little bit paradoxical. You can refuse to negotiate if they try to keep you. If they offer you higher pay, or some other inducement, you can say "Respectfully, I have decided to leave. Let's not talk about ways to make me stay." Why does this ease the transition? Because it means the company doesn't have to panic and throw money at everybody.

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Look at it in an optimistic way. Management of the company will be terribly worried that they will go under and all the hard working employees will lose their jobs. By finding a job elsewhere and leaving, you take a bit of that load off their shoulders and they will feel a lot better. So you are doing the right thing by leaving.

And if this is not how your company works, you are still doing the right thing by leaving - for yourself, and for your family. That's the people who count. When you start your new job, you can always see if there are more open positions and recommend former colleagues.

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  1. if you take the offer, your team has one less co-worker to worry about, - and that's you. And your family has one less parent to worry about, and that's you. That sounds like a good deal for both your team and your family.

  2. What happens to the employer after you leave is none of your concern and in fact, it is none of your business. Your employer can still save themselves by being a little bit smarter, getting reinforcements rather than work your compadres to death - they are worked to the max right now and they cannot possibly give more to the company than what they are already giving. And of course, they can stop expecting that the work can be done on time on a starvation diet of resources. All of these changes are out of your hands, and these changes are the management's decision to make or not to make. Your employer's salvation is in their hands not yours, and they can decide to save themselves irrespective of whether you stay or you leave.

  3. Don't feel guilty that you are letting your team down by leaving. Your staying won't make a difference to the eventual outcome if management persists in making the wrong decisions, which have far more impact on the survivability of the firm than any decision of yours to stay or leave.

  4. The only decision that's in your hands at this firm is the decision to save yourself - nothing else is in your hands. Take the one decision that's in your hands, and make it the right one for yourself, your family and your coworkers. No coworker who genuinely cares about your welfare would want to see you promenading on a ship that's about to smash into a cliff.

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Its a sad thing when management decisions doom a project even before it gets off of the ground. The reality is that its your management's job to create an atmosphere where you can thrive and be happy (or at least not want to run screaming to the next job). Its your management's job to ensure thier customers are happy. You can help with both of those, but if they won't let you, then what can you do?

In your case, your management made some unwise decisions which have cost you and your co-workers a lot of quality-of-life as well as possibly costing them a customer.

Don't feel bad about taking the new position. Your company is responsible for its issues, not you. Take the new job, and maybe you'll be able to give some of your co-workers a new job as well!

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Whether your employer is sued is not your responsibility.

If you signed an employment agreement check for any non-compete limitations on positions you can take.

If you have a tangible job offer and you are very sure that you will not be faced with your employer suing to prevent you from working in the business field, give as much notice as you can and make yourself available to help with the transition.

Be prepared for the possibility that when you give notice your current employer may have security pack your personal belongings and escort you out. That happens under stress.

Do not under any circumstances disparage your current employer or have contact with the dissatisfied client. That way lies dragons so to speak.

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