I work in a software development company for almost two years now, and I'm planning on quitting soon. The reason is that I cannot stand my supervisor (let's call him John).

TL,DR: Should I tell my boss (who was the one who recruited me) the reason I quit is my supervisor John's behavior and how inefficient he is, or just tell them that my career goals changed? The other reason is not a lie, I want to go to university full time and it is impossible for me to keep working for my current company, even part time (my financial situation can handle it, I made a lot of savings).

John was the scrum master of our team when I first got here and we had the same boss. Since it had not been long they started working with scrum methodology (and I had quite a bit of experience due to past jobs), I tried sharing all the information I had to improve the management methods. We were losing way too much time on meetings for useless reasons (for example, we had 30+ min stand up meetings for a 5-6 dev team, which is simply too much, specially when we are doing simple tasks). We even had a meeting with the main scrum master from the company and he agreed with my suggestions to avoid losing time. However, John decided not to implement any of the suggestion, since he doesn't "want to change the way things are done now" (even though it's still new...).

I told myself that if the company wants to lose time, fine, at least I tried. So I continued putting the same efforts (even though I was new in the team, I was already considered one of the top devs of the team, due to my high delivery of user stories) and my boss was very pleased. As time went by, I realized that our scrum master was very narcissistic; he always keeps talking about himself and all the tasks he is working, even though he doesn't even complete any US (in 4 sprints, he has completed maybe 1/4 of the US he committed, while the rest of team completes about 4/5 of the US they commit). And that pissed me off, because he just wastes everyone's time. We even had multiple arguments about this; I tried answering questions he asks during meetings to speed up, but he told me in private that he wants other to answer even though he knows I know the answer, because he wants them to participate.

Recently, he even got a promotion and is now the boss of our team (while still keeping scrum master role). I would've love getting that job (who wouldn't?), but I think that other team members deserved it more than him. And that promotion was the cherry on the cake for me; he now has even more reasons to talk about himself and all his meeting and how important they are, and thus, we lose even more time in meetings.

A couple months have now passed and I gave a lot of thoughts about it and decided to go to university to get better job opportunities and so, I decided to quit. While that reason alone should suffice my boss, I really want to tell her that the supervisor she selected is not a good fit for the company and it's damaging productivity. I know one or two members that deserve that promotion more than John. However, I feel like stabbing someone in the back, something that I do not do. Don't get me wrong, John is a good person, he is kind and caring, he just is not fit to be a good supervisor. Should I tell her that reason when giving my notice or not?

Edit: This question is different from this one, because I will not be telling my supervisor my those concerns but to the HR person. That way, they can decide what actions they'll take, if they do.


4 Answers 4


Rule of Thumb: Don't burn the bridge while you're leaving.

While your intentions are good (you're trying to provide honest feedback), it can easily be misinterpreted, more so since you're expressing those just before you're leaving (exit interview, etc.). You won't be available for a dicussion and to defend your decision / opinion.

Keep it simple: Mention you higher studies as the reason behind leaving the organization.

  • it's true that it can misinterpreted, but I feel weird in lying during the exit interview by saying that everything was good... Isn't there anyway I can tell how I felt it was without burning bridges ? Nov 6, 2019 at 16:35
  • 3
    @RegularEverydayNormalGuy Who said you have to lie? And keep in mind, you're not required to answer any question you don't want to.
    – Kevin
    Nov 6, 2019 at 16:47
  • 3
    @RegularEverydayNormalGuy What's the point? Nov 6, 2019 at 16:49
  • I guess there is indeed to point to do so. I honestly just want them to be aware of the problem and maybe find a solution, but if I'm not working there anymore, indeed it won't change much for me. Nov 6, 2019 at 16:52
  • 2
    @RegularEverydayNormalGuy, if you're in an exit interview, it is too late to change the situation and the HR person conducting the interview is powerless to do anything about it anyway. All they can do it take notes that may look like you are a complainer. You may want to get it off your chest and feel like there is a sense of justice or revenge to detail all the reasons the manager has wronged you, but there is no upside for you.
    – spuck
    Nov 6, 2019 at 23:09
  1. Keep you resignation letter short and to the point. Make it nice and grateful but there is no need to put any reason in there at all.
  2. If no one asks why, you are done.
  3. If your boss ask, I see no reason not to be open honest about it. Make it constructive and about you. Example "incompatible management style" "the way projects are run is not a good cultural fit for me, I prefer to focus more on the actual work". Don't blame or complain. A good manager can read between the lines and a bad one doesn't care one way or another.
  4. If someone else asks, you need to make an situational assessment of WHY they are asking. "Going to university" is always a safe option but for the right person and the right reasons its perfectly okay to be more open
  • Thank you, specially for the point 3. There are ways to explain the problem without accusing someone and maybe that will lead to improvements on management side. Nov 7, 2019 at 13:01

One of the things you're going to learn as you gain more experience in the workplace is that the person who most deserves a promotion is not always (maybe even rarely) the one who gets it.

The person who does the best job, but doesn't advertise his contributions, is awkward in meetings, or doesn't rub shoulders with the boss, is going to lose.

You will always need to strike that balance between being a good performer, having good ideas, and knowing when to fight for them.

The fact is that this guy has built a perception of success and competence. You, on the other hand, have been nipping at his heels from day one, with suggestions that might be good, but which you had no political capital to implement.

You now quitting and stating his success and your reason to bounce is more than likely going to come across as bitter. Management is 100% going to wonder if maybe you're the problem. At the same time, you may one day be desperate for a job, and have to return to this company. You don't want any bad feelings between you and management standing in the way if you have to go to them hat in hand.

At the end of the day, managers are supposed to have their fingers on the pulse of the business, and be aware if someone is under-performing, wasting time, or otherwise sabotaging the team. If they are so clueless that they mistake some wind bag's boasting for actual work done, then they either don't care enough about their employees to ensure that the right person gets the job, or have appointed him to that position for some other reason that you're unaware of.

You will gain nothing by trying to force their opinion, other than marking yourself as a "problem" individual.

  • Thanks for you answer, I will try to keep that in mind for my future. I did got a bit "jealous" if I may say, but realistically thinking, I'm still a junior and it would be crazy for someone as young as me without a degree can succeed in getting a management position this early in my career. Your answer however, does raise a flag in my head and I will try doing things differently in the future Nov 6, 2019 at 18:35
  • "Don't be irreplaceable, if you can't be replaced, you won't be promoted" Then, of course, there's the Dilbert Principle, which essentially says that the most dangerous employees get promoted to where they will do the least amount of damage Nov 6, 2019 at 18:56
  • @regulareverydaynormalguy - I would recommend reading the questions on this site on the regular - they will give you a good idea of how to handle conflict, establish boundaries, and interact with management/hr. Remember that being correct is not always what's most important, and that life is very unfair sometimes. And don't pour your heart and soul into a business in which you have no stake. Ultimately, to the company you are 100% replaceable. Do not allow work stress to seep into your personal life any more than it absolutely has to.
    – AndreiROM
    Nov 6, 2019 at 19:12

I think there are a few interesting dynamics at play here. I'll try to keep my comments constructive:

  • If they're new in the Scrum Master role, then pride may be getting in the way of their taking your feedback on board. i.e. They may want to be seen to be right rather than doing the right thing, if that makes any sense.
  • A part of the Scrum Master role is servant leadership and driving continuous improvement within the team. It might be worth taking them aside and having a quiet one on one chat to discuss how you can help each other.
  • If you have other Scrum Masters or Agile coaches in your company, you might want to discretely ask one of them to sit in on your daily scrum meetings or other meetings to provide objective feedback. An independent voice can be handy in this situation.
  • If they're constantly talking about their achievements in a self congratulatory way then they might be lacking confidence. You might find that a bit of positive feedback from you to them helps them "let down their walls" and open up a more open and constructive dialogue.
  • I've led many teams in the past and I can understand the comment with regard to wanting some of the quieter team members to open up and participate rather than one or two dominant voices in the team (not saying you are, just making a comment) as this can improve team communication overall.
  • Is the Scrum Master a Dev? In my experience, it's unusual (but not unheard of) for a Scrum Master to be developing user stories themselves. More often than not, they're more of a coaching, facilitating and guiding type of role.
  • Lastly sometimes is worth "losing some battles to win the war". Focus on improving working relationships first and foremost and you might be surprised to find that the Scrum Master is more receptive to feedback.

Good luck!


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