Finally, after ten years, I'm about to give in my notice. The exact details of the new contract are still to be agreed upon, but as soon as that's done, I'm off.

The department is being restructured right now, and while I'm pretty happy about my colleague going to be my team leader, I'm absolutely unhappy with that new boss two further steps up the hierarchy ladder. While that new department boss is already fixed, my colleague will get promoted, when they finally agreed on the exact team responsibilities.

I don't believe our team will be doing that job we're hired for (API development), and we´ll only be the punchbags for anything going wrong. Well, same situation as now, only we´re going to be a separate team instead of being part of a big whole, which IMO will concentrate the punching on us even more. The new boss makes no attempts to stop that - in the opposite he apparently does not believe in such a thing as an internal API and right now he does everything to hinder us working on it, giving us ever new kinds of "job creation plans" (though he continues implementing that API team, a decision made before he was with that company - which to me seems like separating workers he dislikes/doesn't believe in from the rest).

I know I am the essential member of that upcoming team. Every team building "workshop" builds on the presumption I will be in that API team. With my colleague getting additional boss tasks and the other two in our team being completely inexperienced, I'm going to be our workhorse. I would love to be exactly that - were it not for that new boss above and that incredibly frustrating working atmosphere he's spreading. So that's why I'm leaving.

I know there are lots of questions on SE if one should tell upfront one's leaving and the essential answer is NO. But I'm really fighting my conscience, because I'm hurting my colleague´s career if I let him run into that trap of "selling" his team using my name - whilst I will never be there. I think the team will be clearly failing, most likely the whole creation of an API team has to be rethought - and my colleague will be the losing one.

On the other hand, telling him and therefore him changing his way of team selling would clearly be ringing alarm bells for the bosses above - which I clearly want to prevent.

So should I tell him or shouldn't I?

Some additional information, if it might be relevant:

  • I have a really good relationship to that colleague. He's always seeking advice with me for those team building workshops - which, of course, gets ever harder for me to give

  • we're in Germany

  • notice period are eight weeks... Few enough to pass over my heaps of responsibilities

  • we're at an industrial manufacturer with 8.000 employees
  • we're in a internal machine development department of 35 members, but only 10 of them in our current team setting, with currently only me and that colleague working on the API. Having three subs will be a great promotion for him, which he has hoped for for a long time
  • we've got 6 (!!) hierarchy steps over us up to the CEO, and to me my colleague will be even another one. Therefore, bureaucracy is a pretty heavy load already.

Edit: I think the proposed similar question If my employer is planning a big project around me, should I tell them I'm looking for a new job? gives some really good advice to my question, but is still different, as in my situation leaving will hurt someone else's personal career.

It seems to me, the overall answer is the same, though: never ever tell anyone. Especially answers like the one "tell them the reasons why you need to look" is exactly what my father told me (who already works for my "new" company): how long did you tell them you´re unhappy? Well, TBH the new boss just added the final touch by working in the completely wrong direction.

  • Welcome new user. Could you drastically shorten your question? And never, ever tell anyone you are thinking of leaving. Never.
    – Fattie
    Jan 8, 2019 at 12:53
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    If you're not aligned with your colleague's soon to be boss (the "upper" boss you don't like), you leaving will probably be a good thing for your colleague. If you stayed, it would put him in a really hard spot - having an employee who is a friend but who disagrees with and doesn't like his boss.
    – dwizum
    Jan 8, 2019 at 21:15

5 Answers 5


I'm assuming that you do not want your higher-ups to know you are going to quit before you hand in your notice.

Do not tell your colleague. Nothing good can come out of it for him, because you present him in an impossible to solve problem:

  • He should not tell his bosses, because you don't want that.
  • It would be his duty to inform his bosses if he knew their key employee is about to quit

The best outcome for him is to be in the dark and to be able to look his bosses in the eye and say "He quit? Wow, I he never told me that he considered that". Because the other option would mean he lied to them and put his personal friendship over his work relationships. That's a good trait in a friend but a sure way to never get promoted again in that company.

If you want to do something good for him, tell the people in the exit interview that you really would have liked to work with him in his new position but had no confidence in upper management to steer the company in a direction you want to be a part of.

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    This is a GREAT point. (A) never, ever, ever, ever tell anyone you're leaving. But also as nvoigt says here, (B) it is bad for the colleague if you tell the colleague - very bad.
    – Fattie
    Jan 8, 2019 at 12:55
  • Thank you for pointing that out. He´s a pretty good friend of the boss one step up the ladder (what a great hierarchy we have... ^^), who would definitely hate if he didn´t tell him about my leaving.
    – Jane Doe
    Jan 8, 2019 at 20:36

You're first responsibility is to do what is best for you. Additionally, your colleague is an adult who is fully capable of looking after himself and got to where he is through hid own abilities. He will be fine.

If you believe that telling your colleague your plans hurts your chances of achieving your goals, don't tell him until you have to. After all, he won't be the one paying your mortgage or looking after you when you're sick.

If he takes it personally, he was never your friend in the first place.

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    That last sentence sounds a little harsh
    – Mawg
    Jan 8, 2019 at 8:15
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    @Mawg maybe it's a little harsh, but if a friend isn't happy for you when you get a new job that you really want, then they don't care about your best interests, only in what they can get out of you. Jan 8, 2019 at 9:12
  • +1 for exactly the last sentence. I don´t think he´ll take it personally. He even once told me (and some other younger colleagues) that we should all leave in a single blow - so the management would have to think about their mistakes. He´ll be disappointed though, as I´m cutting him off his chance he finally got...
    – Jane Doe
    Jan 8, 2019 at 20:38

You shouldn't.

Until you have a signed contract, you should never, under any circumstance, tell that you plan on leaving, because there are so many things that could go wrong for you.

If you want to do a favor to your friend, you can tell him you'll be leaving before handing in your notice, so that he has a head start in how to handle the situation which may give him the edge in office power struggles to come. But never before having a signed contract for your new workplace in hand.


No you shouldn't tell your colleague you're planning to leave. Someone giving notice is EXACTLY what a manager should be planning for! You shouldn't be leaving them in the lurch because if they're doing their job correctly there should be a contingency for this scenario.

Keep quiet, inform them when you've got your offer in writing and get on with life.


A manager is not like a small business owner with a team of employees, so there is no expectation that he can influence you directly (i.e. he couldn't solve the reason you wish to leave).

A good manager works well with the team he has, and will replace staff as they move on. Assuming he is actually good (and not just taking credit for your work), losing you will give him opportunities to show his true value to the company.

  • Unfortunately that new position will not include hiring possibilities - he´ll be only team lead, who can only be pleading up the hierarchy ladder for getting more/other employees assigned to his team. As he will get none (as there are none), he will be condamned to assign work to complete newbies. So no chance to shine for him here - in the opposite, I´m leaving him to fail.
    – Jane Doe
    Jan 8, 2019 at 20:44

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