45

Summary

I was dissatisfied with my job and accepted an offer elsewhere. Now my boss keeps insisting I stay, and enlists others to try and convince me. How do I deal professionally with this?

Context

A medium-sized IT company with offices both in Eastern Europe (where I work) and in Western Europe. One of their major products is an ERP product that is deployed for customers in 20+ countries.

I have been working here for more than five years in various departments. I have worked with my current boss from the first day here when he was a team leader. This complicates things for me now, but also provides me a great insight about what makes him tick.

After working here for a while, I was moved into a project that is very unappealing for me ("The Bad Place") - it is an ERP product with a messy monolithic architecture, error prone deployments, lots of manual work, almost no automatic testing, data transferring based on files, etc.

There is another project that is much more interesting to me ("The Good Place" - state of the art micro-services based architecture using the latest technologies and design pattern with 80-90% test coverage), but that is currently only used by a single client, and has a smaller team.

I was moved to "The Bad Place" without being asked, and when I complained, I only received vague promises about a transfer. Taking into account the whole context, I tried to find an alternative and I was offered a slightly better paying similar position in another medium-sized company.

The leaving process

I told my manager that I am going to leave and explained to him why I cannot work any longer (very old technology that completely demotivates me). He immediately told his boss, but he did not find any solution.

However, I was later contacted by a fellow manager, and by an ex-colleague (prompted by my boss), who both tried to make me stay. As I accepted the offer from the other company, I told both of them that I will leave the company.

The dilemma

The repeated attempts to make me stay are becoming very annoying for me, and I go to sleep thinking about this. My first reflex is to simply block all subsequent discussions with my boss, however, this feels a very unprofessional thing to do and it will also burn all bridges with a person I used to be professionally close to.

I can also try to accept all subsequent discussions, but it does not feel fair for me to listen to so many promises that seem to change from a day to another. It is also somewhat painful to see that a guy I know for years is trying to trick me.

Question: How do I deal with a manager who keeps insisting I stay with no clear offer after I have already accepted another company offer?

  • 5
    Have you given notice in writing with a specific last day? – Patricia Shanahan May 21 at 7:38
  • 5
    @PatriciaShanahan Yes, I have given the notice. The administrative department already registered it (first provided digitally, but also made the commute to work to be sure). – Alexei May 21 at 7:43
  • 45
    the question writing is extremely long, please edit to compress, remove extra details. I would also provide a "summary" section on top of the question, 1-2 sentences – aaaaa says reinstate Monica May 21 at 14:57
  • 22
    @aaaaasaysreinstateMonica You are right. The context can mostly be skipped. The problem I have encountered so far with "compressed" questions is that they beg for lots of comments to clarify them and/or close votes. I am really stressed my current situation and I wanted to convey the context as accurate as possible. I think this helped the community to provide a few great answers. – Alexei May 21 at 17:33
  • 1
    Think of it this way: bridges are being burned, but you aren't the one burning them. – chepner May 23 at 19:53

13 Answers 13

94

If the facts are with you, argue the facts. If the law is with you, argue the law. If nothing is with you, just argue.
————— old lawyer's proverb

This is the sound of them having nothing to offer you.

They can't offer a serious money raise, or they would have offered it already. They can't place you in a job role you find fulfilling, or they would have done that already. They have nothing.

So they're falling back on cheap psychological games. That's all they got.

Forgive them their stupidity, and say no.

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  • 6
    They might decide 1 day before OP's end date that they'd rather pay the op extra money than lose OP. However, a competent manager who makes such a counter-offer will sideline the employee as quickly as possible, since such employees tend to quit 1-2 years later. – Brian May 21 at 18:47
  • @Brian So, if I just raise till they fold, is the last number I wanted my true worth to the company? – Sudix May 23 at 11:27
  • @Sudix You do not raise, the company does. If you raise your demands every time, that's very bad form and not really trustworthy. – Captain Emacs May 24 at 11:43
  • 1
    @Sudix: I concur with Captain Emacs. If your raise was driven primarily by coercion, they probably just want to keep you around for an extended handover (e.g., to finish any projects you are involved in, or to avoid going through the hiring process during lockdown). In such a scenario, you may be paid more than you are worth (long term. While this might help your finances in the short term, it tends to result in poor job security. Also, this tends to foster bad feelings over time, degrading your work environment (and future job references). – Brian May 25 at 2:45
156

How to deal with a manager who keeps insisting to stay with no clear offer after I have already accepted another company offer?

Politely without committing to anything. Once you hand in your resignation they have no way of forcing anything. If they want to spend that time having meetings instead of preparing handover that isn't your problem.

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  • 73
    If they get inquisitive about where you are going and why, "My decision to leave is definite." without giving any more information. – Patricia Shanahan May 21 at 7:44
  • 16
    Plus 1, especially for wasting time in meetings that could be used for handover. – Solar Mike May 21 at 7:52
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    Also remember that "no" and "that won't be possible" are complete sentences. – Zach Lipton May 22 at 2:06
  • 1
    Or just top it up with a "No, thank you. Let me focus on the handover." If they insist on wasting your time, get them to sign papers saying they are allocating hand-over time to meeting time, to CYA up to the last day. – Nelson May 22 at 2:28
  • @MatthieuM. Sounds like you already recognize the brand! – JiK May 22 at 11:12
93

You use the broken record method.

Whatever they say, your answer is “I have given my notice, and my last day of work is the 6th of June”. If they ask why you are leaving you say “I have given my notice, and my last day of work is the 6th of June”. If they ask what it takes to make you stay you say “I have given my notice, and my last day of work is the 6th of June”. Whatever argument you say “I have given my notice, and my last day of work is the 6th of June”.

Manipulators are good at making arguments that are hard to refute for someone who isn’t an experienced manipulator themselves. And some people think because they can’t refute the argument they have to do what the manipulator asks. The broken record method makes it clear to the manipulator. On the other hand, you can just say to the manipulator “your arguments are much better than mine. The answer is unchanged. I’m leaving.” Or say “No”. “No” is a complete answer.

PS. The whole context is arguing with a manipulator. People can manipulate us when we feel bound by conventions (honesty, sincerity, being nice, being Polite) that they don’t feel bound by. If you are a born manipulator yourself, you can try playing the same game, but better, and beat them. If you are not, or just hate being manipulative, you win by refusing to play the game and making no concessions whatsoever. That includes not being polite, not showing any opening whatsoever.

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  • 38
    To understand the importance and value of this method, look into the sales technique called "Overcoming objections". Simply stating your definite decision to resign, without discussing reasons or anything else, leaves them with nothing to work on. – Patricia Shanahan May 21 at 14:25
  • 12
    I don't see why would it be a good idea not to be polite and simply refuse the question. Gvining a non-answer like this answer suggest is rude, in my opinion. – zabop May 21 at 20:33
  • 1
    Broadly, Gnasher is correct. If you'd part-way like to stay then switch to “I have given my notice, and my last day of work is the 6th of June. If you want to change that then give me this, that and the other…" – Robbie Goodwin May 21 at 22:34
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    @zabop The point is that they are engaging with the OP to try to force them into staying. The OP has made their position clear. If they choose to be rude by trying to con/force/blackmail/browbeat the OP into changing their mind, the OP does not have to be polite in response. – Graham May 21 at 23:37
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    @zabop There have been a series of mismanagement, from being forced into siloed responsibilities, to being skipped for consideration, to involving co-workers for coercion. I think the OP had already been polite and the company took advantage of it. This is appropriate for where things are at. – Nelson May 22 at 2:31
30

You've accepted another offer, you've given your leave and you're moving on. There's nothing they can do about it. You don't need to tell them anything. If they ask where you're going you can simply say that you had 'another opportunity' and you've made up your mind. If they try to make offers to get you to say, you can simply thank them and decline to stay. Every single time.

I know you might think it sounds silly saying the same thing over and over again, but the reality is they're doing and asking you the same thing over and over again, so it's a perfectly valid and professional response. And you're right, it's better not to decline the meetings, just agree to them and repeatedly let them know your position. As Kilisi said, if they want to waste time and energy trying to get you to stay instead of accepting it and looking for someone else, that's NOT your problem. Don't let them pressure you, this is your decision and you have autonomy. You can't control what they do, only your responses to their actions.

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  • 2
    Also, if you have actually accepted the offer, aren't you ethically obligated to take it? – jamesqf May 21 at 17:01
  • 6
    "You don't need to tell them anything." I would amend that to "you shouldn't tell them anything". In particular and under no circumstances should you tell them the company you're going to. Even telling them the size of the company was probably too much. – G. Allen May 21 at 20:24
29

How to deal with a manager who keeps insisting to stay with no clear offer after I have already accepted another company offer?

Try something like: "Thank you. But no."

Repeat as often as necessary.

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18

I would write a formal email to my manager along the lines of:

As you know, I have decided to quit this company to pursue my personal career goals. I greatly appreciate your ongoing engagement to keep me on board, and it shows me how much the company values my work. Unfortunately, I have made my decision and committed myself elsewhere and I don’t break my commitments. I would appreciate if we could skip further discussion on that matter as I have nothing to add here. I am happy to do everything I can to provide you with a clean handover.

Thank you for your understanding and for the great time working together in the past X years.

If you get further invites to discuss the matter, just refer to that mail. If they insist on discussing that nonetheless, attend, but just repeat. Don’t give any further details and reasons and especially don’t tell anyone where you are going to work!

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  • 2
    Two suggestions. 1. Remove the "As you know". It sounds condescending. 2. Remove the "Unfortunately." It makes you sound like you might regret your decision if you are tickled just right, and that gives them every reason to continue tickling, looking for the right stimulus for you to put your head back in their noose. Just state the facts, and MOVE ON. – John R. Strohm May 22 at 18:43
  • I can't imagine a reason for sending this sort of thing in writing. Strikes me as an astonishingly bad idea, at least in the United States. It's the kind of bizarre behavior that people will definitely remember, and it gets you absolutely nothing. – James Moore May 23 at 3:49
15

He immediately told his boss, but he did not find any solution.

I also know (informally) that some big boss asked why there is such a big attrition rate in that department (generally the company culture is great and the attrition rate is quite small), so managers are struggling to keep all folks in place.

scheduled a few other 1:1 meetings to mention that I must say what I want so they can try to improvise something and stay in the company

This looks like everyone KNOWS the problems and reasons behind them but deny they exist and start "digging" with each new occurrence of profits from those problems, treating them with surprise and EXPECTING you to provide solutions.

I do not fully understand what they are trying to build there

It's THEIR responsibility to explain that. Especially when such understanding would help you stay. I assume they didn't do that.

They imagined I was coming from a "worse place" and there would be no problems when working in the department (that's why they skipped me when having 1:1 discussions with each team member)

"I thought you know" - so they assumed, without fact-checking that they "promote" you somehow? That the "Bad place" is better because you're coming from a "worse" one? That's a textbook example of manipulation by gratitude. They give you so much and that's how you repay them?

For me to work in the Good Place, it would that a colleague from there to no longer there which is impossible (I never asked for that anyway).

That's another example of manipulation. They are blackmailing you "If we hire you, it means you will be responsible for firing someone else".

She managed to convince lots of folks to stay including in the very last day

I think she managed to manipulate people into staying. Not convincing them. That's why they bring her to talk with you. She's probably company No.1 manipulator.

Your boss is doing "give nothing, take everything". Promises are cheap and worth the paper they are written on. Especially so vague as the ones made to you.

I would say:

We talked about my position and responsibilities before any transitions were done. I was excluded from any of those and only informed about the results. I don't see anything we can discuss as, I hope, you are aware that there are multiple problems on the company side that I refuse to solve by my sacrifice of pay, happiness, pleasure of doing my job, and overall mental stability. It would be nice if you could acknowledge that NOW is a bad moment to promise me anything and stop talking with me about that.

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  • 3
    Worked in a company like that. Everybody knows what the problems are but they are not currently affecting their bottom line so the problems are not getting solved. They can't give you anything because fixing that problem WILL affect their short term bottom line. What happened: They had 10 software developers. In 6 months, they had 5 with double the workload. That continued for a year and system is still unstable. 5 remaining developers only spend 1/3 of time developing the rest is maintenance. Hiring people is OPEX. Buying external solutions is CAPEX. OPEX is bad, CAPEX is good. – jo1storm May 21 at 20:42
  • 4
    Basically, they would rather have 5 developers mostly doing maintenance and do externalization instead of 10 developers doing a little maintenance each and 90% software development. When you have inhouse development team, the project cost turns out multiple times cheaper in the long run than externalization. But short term? Your OPEX (operational expenses) are higher. And somebody on some management course taught those managers that operational expenses must be as low as possible. Never mind that you can't make and implement good decisions later because you lack manpower. – jo1storm May 21 at 20:46
  • Even with the quotes, the later changes somewhat invalidates it. Perhaps adapt it to the current version of the question? – Peter Mortensen May 23 at 15:27
13

How to deal with a manager who keeps insisting to stay with no clear offer after I have already accepted another company offer?

Be polite with him. It looks to me that he's making a real (although maybe a clumsy one) effort to keep you.

Problem is, in the workplace is not always possible to do what one feels is good. He is feeling very likely much frustrated, since a valid colleague is leaving, he apparently has no power in letting you work at the "good place" for reasons outside his control and all the attempts he is making are basically without hope.

Be firm with your decision, but show appreciation for what he is doing and let him understand that you got the situation and that you really think he made all he could. This will likely stop him to bothering you again.

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  • 3
    Yes, you have grasped my situation so well. He is indeed very frustrated and I understand why. However, I also have my own frustration / disappointment because he applies the same techniques I have seen being applied to other leaving colleagues in the past. – Alexei May 22 at 7:32
  • 1
    I know how you feel. On the other hand, think that, one way or another, you solved the situation. Maybe you'd prefer to stay for working at the good place, but nonetheless you found an alternative. You are on the winning side: in a few days your situation will improve and your frustration will disappear; his won't. – nicola May 22 at 7:40
  • 2
    @Alexei If you have a good relation with him, you should be able to make him understand that your choice is not personal against him. But the management (yes, managing as balancing "money in vs salary out") has a big problem, and you can tell him that if he has to do this shit for other colleagues, the issue is top, not bottom. – EarlGrey May 22 at 9:26
6

I think the best thing you can do is to change your feelings regarding this. Instead of being annoyed by everything try to be amused instead. Amused that they think you will reconsider. Amused that they want you to stay but offer nothing. Amused they use your time for meetings instead of handover. Amused that they think you are ok with using old technology. Amused that they think they can lie to you. Basically see all their futile attempts to convince you as the futile attempts they are, and see the amusement in how they think they can convince you.

This isn't easy to do. But if you manage they won't be able to get to you. And they will notice that you are more confident, and that they won't be able to convince you. And hopefully they'll even get the message, and stop pestering you.

I also know (informally) that some big boss asked why there is such a big attrition rate in that department (generally the company culture is great and the attrition rate is quite small), so managers are struggling to keep all folks in place.

This is the reason they are trying to keep you. Your manager have been tasked with lowering the attrition rate, and he have to deliver. Ultimately his job is on the line, and he will do whatever he needs to keep the job. But that's his problem and not yours.

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  • This - the problem isn't how to tell the Manager no, the problem is for the OP to feel better during these last couple of weeks. Moving yourself to that "amused" viewpoint is very hard, but OP's own reaction is the one thing they do really have control over. – Dragonel May 22 at 17:30
5

One time, I had a boss who would scream at all his employees. The guy was a bully. He was extremely difficult to work for. One morning, he just wouldn't stop screaming at his secretary. And his secretary took a break, called HR to tell them she quit, and never came back.

Now legally, she probably didn't have the right to do that because she still had her notice period to finish, but emotionally, no one could fault her decision.

So if at one point, you get sick and tired of all this BS from your boss. Know that you can put an abrupt end to it. You can say "no" to those meetings. Furthermore, you can let him know politely that if he doesn't stop, you're not coming back tomorrow morning. And if he still doesn't stop, you can let him know that you're going to leave right now and not even going to finish your day. But if you do this, don't bluff. If you issue an ultimatum, follow through with it.

Now, will there be consequences? And will that burn a bridge?

Yes, this is going to burn a bridge. No doubt about that. And yes, of course, there may be legal repercussions that you don't like. In fact, you should research what those legal consequences are going to be in your jurisdiction before you issue such an ultimatum in the first place.

But at some point, you have to respect yourself enough to say, "Enough is enough. I'm out of here", then turn off your cell phone and walk away. And yes, Tom has a point. If the stress gets to you, you can call in sick too.

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  • 4
    Not necessarily recommended, depending on jurisdiction and employee protection laws. However, as a lawyer in the field of employee law once told me (not exact words, I paraphrase): "It is widely known that such stress causes many employees to suddenly become sick and not return until the employment period is already over." - essentially: If it really stresses you out, consult a doctor instead of risking your health in a stressful environment. – Tom May 21 at 17:55
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    "Now legally, she probably didn't have the right to do any..." Are there places this is required by law? – Don Branson May 21 at 18:31
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    @DonBranson, Well, if the contract requires a notice period, the person is legally required to work during their notice period unless the employer doesn't want them to. That's what I am talking about. But in practice, this is actually very difficult to enforce. They can try suing you and they might win some money, but no judge can force you to go back to work to finish your notice. – Stephan Branczyk May 21 at 19:26
  • Gotcha. Where I've seen, it's observed as a courtesy. In the case of the secretary you mention - kudos to her. – Don Branson May 21 at 19:34
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    @DonBranson If you try to enforce that, the employee will open sick leave until notice period expires. Also, do you really want somebody who doesn't want to be there to be inside your company, clicking and changing things on your system? Forgetting emails, sabotaging meetings... etc. – jo1storm May 21 at 20:51
1

I was in a very similar situation to yours almost a decade ago. Working on a software solution I didn't like ("The Bad Place"), with managament making vague promises that I would be moved to the other solution I liked ("The Good Place") but no specific commitment in terms of a timeline.

You're doing the right thing, leaving a job that doesn't make you happy, and they're trying to make you stay with tricks. As other people answered earlier, stay firm in your refusal and move on.

It will probably be one of the best career decisions in your life. In a few years you'll look back amused (as @Polygorial has said) and be proud of the decision you made.

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  • 3
    It's not necessarily the best career decision - there's always the possibility to go to a place that looked nice and shiny from the outside but turned out to be a Really Bad Place. (He isn't asking about that aspect though, this answer is to a different question.) – toolforger May 22 at 12:05
1

All of the above suggestions for shutting down the conversation with your longtime boss and coworker are poor suggestions, imo. Having worked with this person for years, leaving a clear and happy atmosphere behind you is important. Be unfailingly bright and personable in your responses. With goodwill, answer:

  • The decision to leave was difficult, and not taken lightly.
  • I felt very strongly that I could not commit to an indefinite term working on a project that does not engage me on any level.
  • I understood that your needs required me in that role, but after thinking it through, I realized that I was simply unable to continue meeting your expectations on that assignment.

Be careful to use past tense when talking about your decision. Otherwise you signal that your decision is still in play.

Person to person, as opportunity presents, assure your management that you have grown under their management, and that you will always be glad for the time you have spent working with them. Abrupt changes in relationship are always difficult. You are accustomed to the subordinate role, especially with this individual, and that is of course the relationship with which both of you are comfortable. Take care to keep that discomfort from creating false expectations on his part or an unyielding robotic response on your part, because either can create hard feelings. If their manipulations bug you enough, you may start to think hard feelings don't matter, but they do. Even to you, personally, in retirement, it will matter how you handled yourself in this situation. In the meantime, having dark places in your work history can be a real detriment. You never know when or how it may affect you later.

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0

Just say its your personal choice and that you have no hard feelings. Say I am sorry. You will have to learn to say "No" eventually. Just behave in a good manner with fellows who try to insist that you stay. Even though you are leaving, you may have feelings for the company you work with. So do not hide your feelings with the manager. Make up your mind and say to him that it's your final decision to leave and say sorry the next time you have a meeting.

They can't force you to stay after your notice period. They will not even try. So just relax, if you want to leave, you can leave.

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