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I've been at my current position for 11 months, and have been working on a pretty big project that I was hired to complete. I haven't made as much progress as expected by my bosses (for some good reasons). I have to present/demonstrate my work next month. I am not even sure I will have much to demonstrate.

I received an offer for another job and have 4 days to accept it. It is a great position and I think I am going to accept. My issue is that I feel bad about leaving my job toward the end of my current project, and about the fact that I haven't accomplished what was outlined for the project.

Is there anything I can do about this, and are there any circumstances under which I should not accept this job offer?

57

If you’re excited about the new offer, you should take it.


Knowing that you’re leaving your current role, there are some things you can do to leave on the best terms as possible:

1. Give your manager as much notice as possible, don’t just wait for the “two weeks notice” deadline. Once you know you’re leaving, give your manager the opportunity to keep the project moving forward by filling your role as soon as they are able to — or to alert other parts of the organization about potential delay.

2. Talk with another leader at the company about your experience. Being given unreasonable deadlines and expectations by a manager who is uncooperative when you raise concerns about being able to meet those expectations is a problem the organization will care about.

3. Talk to individuals who you may call on as references or want to be a connection in the future. You’re leaving the organization, not your manager. Anyone there can be a reference or key part of your network. If you likely won’t leave on good terms with your manager, do your best to leave on good terms with another leader in the organization.

Good luck! Very glad to hear you found a new opportunity that you’re excited about.

  • 2
    Unless the employee has a very good relationship with superior and the company has a good track record with employee relationships, NEVER give more than two weeks notice. – paulj Jun 14 at 18:14
  • 5
    #3 should be #1. – Mark Jun 14 at 18:47
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    @paulj In other parts of the civilized world, notice periods can be a month or even longer. So your never doesn't apply everywhere. – Mark Rotteveel Jun 15 at 6:57
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    Never give more notice than required. Whatever the notice requirements are where you work. – gnasher729 Jun 17 at 9:02
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    @gnasher729 If you have a signed job offer what's the downside of giving more notice than required? – Ben Sutton Jun 17 at 22:55
197

A business would not hesitate to terminate you if it was important for the business success. You should not hesitate to terminate the business if it's important for your success.

The company is not family.

  • 34
    completely agree with this. Try to finish whatever you can during your leaving period, do knowledge transfer with your peers, document whatever you think is valuable and be happy. – Quaestor Lucem Jun 14 at 10:23
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    The "that I was hired to complete" part of the question is what's got me concerned about this answer. The company may not be family, but most companies have an interest in people doing what they agreed to do. Leaving a job like this could very well burn some bridges you don't want to burn. – Mark Jun 14 at 22:28
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    The "that I was hired to complete" part of the question is what's got me concerned about this answer this is entirely the company's responsibility. It doesn't sound like a fixed-price delivery from a 3rd-party consultancy. It's just a project that had budget to hire people to do it, and one of those people is leaving. – Robert Grant Jun 15 at 12:48
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    Schedules slip all the time. Deadlines come in many forms. Sometimes you get hit by a bus. Sometimes you win the lottery. The professional does the best they can with the time they have. Doesn't matter if you consider the company family. This is the nature of life. – candied_orange Jun 15 at 14:24
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    @Meo No worries. The advice above was definitely more specific with regards to your situation. Mine was a bit more bombastic, but also covered your concerns. The circumstances of the company aren't any of your concerns as they will rarely, if ever, consider your own when making business decisions. You can elect to try and mitigate the effects of your leaving through the accepted answer's suggestions, but in the end, you've got to do what is right for you. I personally would not do the #2 suggestion though. – Malisbad Jun 17 at 23:18
9

Another way of looking at these situations is that your current employer could have taken actions to help prevent this from happening if it was important to them. They could have:

  • Offered you a contract where you were paid more in exchange for committing to a fixed term of employment
  • Offered you a bonus (either cash or through the vesting of stock) if you stayed through a certain time period
  • Offered you a bonus to be paid upon completion of the project
  • Offered you a raise or other improvements to your working conditions, that might make you less likely to take another job
  • Taken steps to help ensure the success of your project (reasonable expectations, provided more resources, assigned a mentor to help, removed blockers, reassign unrelated tasks, more frequent progress updates, etc...)

If they wanted to make it a priority to have you there through the end of the project, they could have used any of these tools to try to achieve that. They signed an agreement with you that they knew you could terminate at any time and did nothing to prevent that outcome. What that means is that it's on them if you leave before the project is finished.

While it's natural to feel bad about the situation, that's irrelevant to your decision. You have an offer for a new great position; the fact that your current job isn't a greater position is not your fault.

7

I understand that for most of us our personal morals leave use conflicted in situations like this. At the end of the day your employment with this company is a business relationship. It imparts no moral obligation on your part. You perform work for the company, for which they pay you. That's it.

There may be a contractual obligation that prevents you from leaving, but there is no moral obligation that prevents you from leaving. Seeing this project through to it's (hopefully) successful conclusion isn't your responsibility, nor is it your moral or personal obligation.

  • 2
    If a co-worker left me in the lurch by bailing when a deadline was approaching, it wouldn't be a "moral" issue, it would be a commitment issue. There's more to being a co-worker than the company. There are your ... co-workers. – Julie in Austin Jun 15 at 20:54
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    @JulieinAustin In this case, no coworkers will be left to pick up the burden, as I was working on this project myself. But, someone may be hired to replace me. I'll make sure to leave plenty (concise) documentation in case that happens. – Meo Jun 17 at 15:18
6

You've described the situation as,

have been working on a pretty big project that I was hired to complete. I haven't made as much progress as expected by my bosses (for some good reasons). I have to present/demonstrate my work next month. I am not even sure I will have much to demonstrate.

The fact is, from their perspective, if you've underperformed on a major project, the damage is done. They'll probably be happy that you left, because it saves them the trouble of dealing with a person who's not producing. To put it another way: leaving, or staying, isn't going to undo what they see as a failure.

So - follow the advice you're getting here, and advice in near-duplicate questions regarding leaving under "challenging" situations. Evaluate the new offer. Make sure you understand the terms and have things in writing, so it's official. If you like the offer, take it, and resign according to your current contract or typical notice period for your locale. Put this job behind you and move on.

Make sure you're learning from this experience both about yourself: what can you do differently in the future to avoid another long term project that doesn't deliver? And also, learn about your environment: What aspects of your current employer or their culture contributed to your unhappiness? Make sure you're not setting yourself up for a repeat experience at your new job.

  • 3
    This answer is useful to some extent, but only given some very big assumptions. OP never said they underperformed or that the lack of progress was a failure on their part, let alone that they were unhappy in that post. For all we know it could be the complete opposite. – Tasos Papastylianou Jun 15 at 12:17
  • I'd like to put emphasis on "learning from this experience". Take your time, alone, with no distraction and a blank paper. Write down good thigs and bad things about this experience. I strongly believe that meditate and understand experience is most powerful way to do better in the future – Vokail Jun 17 at 8:39
2

You said you haven’t made much progress for some good reasons. I can relate to that. I’m going to assume you gave it your best effort and did as well as should be expected under the circumstances. And you’ve Also gained valuable experience.

Here’s what I would say to the new employer: “I’m at an important stage in my current project. I’d like to give my employer a little more notice than usual. Would it be possible to start on [date]? If not, I don’t want to miss out on this opportunity; I can be available in two weeks.”

In my experience, mostly working in office jobs at large corporations, two weeks is barely enough time to prepare for a new employee’s arrival. So the extra time may be a good thing. Also, waiting a couple of weeks is usually preferable to taking the next best choice. Or worse, finding another candidate, which could take even longer than waiting on you.

There’s a good chance your employer will decide to let you go immediately or stick with the traditional two weeks (or 4 or whatever is common in your location or in your contract). That’s not necessarily a reflection on you. Employers generally don’t like having people stick around who are “on the way out the door” because it’s bad for morale. Just make sure your offer letter is flexible on start date, so you’re not stuck between jobs for an extended period of time.

  • This can go both ways. Upon telling them, you could be a) shown the door (in the case of a no 2 week's notice requirement from the company's side), or b) get a butt-hurt manager who will be less than pleasant from the remaining X weeks – Mars Jun 16 at 8:14
  • The only way to avoid being shown the door is to give no notice at all. Butt-hurt manager would validate the decision to leave. By working hard in spite of it, OP could earn (back) sympathy and respect from other colleagues. – Patrick McElhaney Jun 16 at 11:54
  • @ypercubeᵀᴹ Yes, I was mistaken about “two weeks”, but why come all the way down to the lowest voted answer from a 119 rep user to point that out? I misremembered the OP mentioning two weeks because I read it in the accepted answer. – Patrick McElhaney Jun 16 at 14:42
  • Oh, I see. I was scanning for the phrase “two weeks” in the comments and missed it. Anyway, I was a little offended by the tone in your comment. As a long term SE contributor, I can easily brush it off. But I’m empathetic to would-be contributors who say that SE is unwelcoming. – Patrick McElhaney Jun 16 at 15:04
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    Sorry for the tone. I didn't mean to sound bad. I would have suggested an edit but was connected through phone and it's hard to type. I made a suggestion now so all is good. Comments will be removed. – ypercubeᵀᴹ Jun 17 at 10:52
0

While it's always nicer to leave with a clean sheet of work, also remember there's ALWAYS another deadline looming.

If you decide to only ever leave if there's nothing that needs to be done, no upcoming projects you're going to be vital to, no deadlines that might come in jeopardy if you aren't there, you'll never leave on your own accord.

But be very aware that your employer will not bat an eyelid to terminate you the moment he sees the moment coming that you're no longer useful to them even temporarily.

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