8

I have been working for this small business for little over 2 years now. We had only 5 employees, two left last year and another one gave 2 weeks notice. She was a senior-level employee (over 15 years experience) and out of the blue submitted her resignation. All are shocked since we don't have a back up/replacement for her yet and no one clearly is trained/experienced enough to do her job. In short the company's existence is at stake.

There is this one other employee who was around for 18+ years, but very minimal competency in doing his role, and hence, though he is the most senior employee, he doesn't have a clue how to handle the clients moving forward. He is in his early 70's but plans on staying in for few more years for whatever reason. He is a very easy going, laid back individual and hence didn't really cared about anything that was outside his job responsibility compared to the leaving employee who used to go above and beyond to get the job done accomplishing tasks clearly outside her role.

So that makes her irreplaceable and now we are all in a panic state. Especially the senior guy, since she used to be his go-to person anytime he had issues with work. Now that he clearly understands that his (big momma) is gone and won't be there to help him out on his daily work stuff he started approaching me with his questions (I should be the one asking him questions being new guy and not the other way around, but every time I did he routed me onto her as he didn't knew the answer).

We had a discussion the other day about hiring a replacement and he expects me to train the new person. I am a programmer and the new hire is a Business Analyst role. I don't have a solid understanding about our business domain to train someone new with my limited time with the firm and also being a programmer and not a BA. I never had a knowledge transfer or official training when I started at this place as the previous programmer left 4 months before I joined.

But this senior guy is avoiding taking responsibility (as always) and expects me to train the new person as he clearly doesn't have a clue about the process.

Long story short, I will be looking for other jobs and leaving soon.

My question is :

  1. Should I let the company owner (resides out of state, acquired this firm several years back and doesn't have a clear understanding about our product) know how incompetent this senior guy is and warn them that the company is at stake if they don't find a strong replacement ASAP (probably try to rehire some of ex employees at least on a consulting basis or something?) Or just keep my mouth shut and make a silent exit like the BA did since I know it doesn't buy me anything?

  2. The senior employee expects me to give him more than 2 weeks notice if I ever choose to leave the company. He thinks the previous employee (whom I replaced) should be ashamed of himself for leaving on a 2 weeks notice (isn't it the industry standard though not in favor of small businesses like ours? Even the BA(who is leaving) whom he considered his trustworthy coworker/friend for a long time is doing the same. So why should I be any different?

Please advise.

  • 1
    Who is running the company day to day? Do you get to interact with the owner at all? – ventsyv Aug 1 at 17:20
  • 1
    What country is that? – ventsyv Aug 1 at 17:20
  • "The senior employee expects me to give him more than 2 weeks notice if I ever choose to leave the company. He thinks the previous employee (whom I replaced) should be ashamed of himself for leaving on a 2 weeks notice" - what do your contracts say? I have been given one weeks notice a few times when the company lost a project. I doubt that your company would be any different - even to the old guy – Mawg Aug 2 at 6:55
  • This doesn't have to be a strict binary decision. You might consider what a huge practical distinction there is between telling the offsite owner that you think the remaining leadership is incompetent vs privately sharing a concern about what qualifications you believe a new hire will need, especially the areas critical to business continuity for which you do not feel you will be able to provide adequate training. How such a conversation goes may inform your personal next steps. – Chris Stratton Aug 2 at 18:32
17

When you find a new job and have signed your new offer, simply hand in your two week notice. There is no need to give a notice greater than two weeks notice, if the company is not prepared to replace you that is not your problem. Don't worry about the senior employee being upset, two weeks after you hand in your notice you won't have to deal with him anymore.

As for speaking with the owner, don't do it. There is nothing to gain by badmouthing any of the current employees. Let the owner run his business how he wants and let him worry about who is competent or not, this is not your responsibility.

Once you hand in your notice, make sure to continue to conduct yourself in a professional manner until your last day. All the problems you are currently facing will be history and you can look forward to your new endeavor.

  • Great answer. I would add that the OP has the opportunity to step up and try to fill the role of the departing person. Even if they fail, no big deal they were leaving anyway. However, it does not seem like an attempt will even be made. – Pete B. Jul 31 at 16:26
  • Unless it is unenforceable in some jurisdictions, I'd point out that one could be required to give more than 2 weeks notice if your contract/employment agreement says so. However considering 2 weeks were given by the departing employee, I don't think that's the case here. – Kaleb Jul 31 at 19:36
3

This senior person leaving is burning bridges in doing so with such short notice. I have always worked for small businesses and it is very unusual to leave with just two weeks notice when you have such a key role and I agree that people should feel ashamed in doing so. Although this is just an opinion. If the contract doesn't say it's required, it's the companies fault for not safeguarding.

The company should be looking to hire someone with at least the same level of experience as the BA leaving. You should only need to train them in the sense of how your business works and what the company does. You should not be expected to train them as a BA.

As far as your question around whether you should tell the owner of the company, that really depends. Do you want to stay there? Tread carefully. Don't undermine your senior, approach your concerns with them first or things could get tricky. I think rehiring a past employee as a consultant, or on a temp basis is a good idea, especially if they left on good terms.

Just to reiterate, this is all in my personal experience of small companies.

  • 6
    There is no shame in treating the company in the same way it treats you. Notice periods are a 2-way street. If a company expects some minimum period from their employees they should be prepared to offer the same in return - this leads to an employment contract, which 'at-will' employers hate because it limits their freedom to fire as they please. – brhans Jul 31 at 13:46
  • 8
    "it is very unusual to leave with just two weeks notice when you have such a key role and I agree that people should feel ashamed in doing so." a company will fire you with 2 week notice without blinking an eye. There is no shame in the employee doing the same. The shameful thing is to not have a longer period in the contract. – Jonast92 Jul 31 at 13:48
  • 1
    @Bee It's your company's fault if you're hard to replace. Sure, if you've got nothing better to do then feel free to stay longer, but you should never feel obligated to stay. Shaming someone for using their rights when they want to use it is simply wrong. – Jonast92 Jul 31 at 13:49
  • 3
    @Bee When the company has to choose between money and a good employee, money is always chosen first. A crisis can happen in either direction. Both parties should be prepared for what their contract states. It's not shameful if one party fails to be prepared. I'm not saying that you should never give a longer notice, but if the employee has to choose between a new job or staying a bit longer at the old one and not getting the new job, then it's an easy decision. – Jonast92 Jul 31 at 13:53
  • 2
    @Bee I totally understand why she is leaving. She was severely over worked and others surrounding her took her for granted and chose the easy/relaxing path by assigning every thing to her. Even the owners expected her to call new customers and try sales/marketing talk with them to get business. That's clearly not her job responsibility. Once I asked the other senior level guy who will take over his role after he's gone and his response was "I don't care what happens once I leave". And he expects me give more than 2 weeks notice to make his life easier :) – yonikawa Jul 31 at 14:39
-2

Rescuing this company is not on you.

You asked

Should I let the company owner (resides out of state, acquired this firm several years back and doesn't have a clear understanding about our product) know how incompetent this senior guy is

No, no, a thousand times no. There's nothing to be gained from that. This person is close to retirement anyhow.

Warn them that the company is at stake if they don't find a strong replacement ASAP

Undoubtedly your absentee owner knows about the situation already. If he doesn't know or doesn't care, that is his problem. Somebody with experience running small businesses knows all about the risks of resignations of key people. You don't have to teach him that.

So, instead of warning the owner you might ask him for some time for a conversation.

In the conversation ask his advice about how you can help make sure the departed person's work gets done. If you have the owner's support you'll be able to do a better job as long as you want to do it.

This is an opportunity for you to take on more responsibility for the success of the company. If you want to seize the opportunity, work with the owner.

(probably try to rehire some of ex employees at least on a consulting basis or something?)

That is a good idea you could pitch to the owner.

The senior employee expects me to give him more than 2 weeks notice if I ever choose to leave the company.

That would be courteous. If you decide to do that, do it as a favor to the owner.

He thinks the previous employee (whom I replaced) should be ashamed of himself for leaving on a 2 weeks notice

With respect, why worry about what he thinks?

Please keep in mind that everybody involved with this business is thinking, "oh $@#$, what now?" Your very senior co-worker probably has a smaller stake in the success of the business than you do.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.