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I work at a small software start-up (~5 employees, started 4 years ago). I knew my bosses already personally before joining about 2 years ago. Most of us have basically only development experience, which is breaking us up now. It is hard to bring in new contracts, which prevents us from growing and investing in our infrastructure, which is very much needed right now. Also the HR side of things was neglected, there were some frustrations between various people that were not handled well.

Because of this I started looking for another job. I told the managers and my colleagues this, so that they would have time to find a replacement. Because I know most of them personally, I wouldn't have been comfortable just handing in my notice. The news of me possibly leaving has sparked a discussion about where the company wants to go and how the working environment can be improved. This is going in the right direction, but not very quickly, and I am already close to the point that I expect an offer from another company.

Today, my manager told me that it is not pleasant to work with someone who says he is looking for another job, and asked what I would need to wholeheartedly continue at this company. I told him what I would need, but am very well aware that it cannot be provided in the short term (a significant investment in the infrastructure is not possible financially at the moment).

So it looks like I'll have to make a decision about the offer before having seen how the new strategy of my current company plays out. It feels like I'm not giving my current company a fair chance to improve. The suggestions I give to improve the situation would not only improve it for me but also leave the company in a better state (at least I think so), so I don't feel guilty about pushing them in that direction. However, I do not want to burn any bridges by giving the impression I did not give them a fair chance. Or to demand a lot of changes and then leave anyway. On the other hand, I also don't feel I need to tell them how far I am in any interview process. How can I navigate this situation?

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    Your notice period is the time that you should have given them to find a replacement. That's what it's for. If you've made your decision already, you should just be honest. May 20, 2021 at 13:37
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    "discussing strategy" is no different at all from "writing some lines of code". Do it to the best of your ability, then take your pay and go home to your family. The fact that you may or may not be leaving soon is irrelevant. Work is work.
    – Fattie
    May 20, 2021 at 21:22

2 Answers 2

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Today, my manager told me that it is not pleasant to work with someone who says he is looking for another job,

That's why you shouldn't have told them. At least not without something actionable the company could do something about if they chose to.

So it looks like I'll have to make a decision about the offer before having seen how the new strategy of my current company plays out.

Yes. You can't have your cake and eat it too. You decide and stick with the decision.

How can I navigate this situation?

By being consistent. They will not like it if you leave, but it's a normal thing to happen and they will get over it. Worst thing you can do is to waver about and create expectations that you have no intention to meet.

You have two choices at this point:

  1. Leave. Tell them clearly that you are happy to help with any improvement suggestions but that it won't change your mind about leaving. Then follow up and get out of there as quickly as you can.
  2. Give them a second chance. That would require establishing clear goals, with a plan, quantitative metrics and a time line around it. If they agree, then suspend your job search and decline any offers. Track the plan: if it works out, you get what you wanted. If it goes of track, it's easy to detect and you can resume your job search than.
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There is a third option: leave now, but keep the option of returning open.

You know key people in the company already outside of work. It's not hard to keep in touch, and see how the company is doing. You can always see how the state of things are two, five, or ten years from now.

But what you should not do is stay. You're unhappy now. That should be enough reason to leave. You do not have to be loyal to a company.

As for the question in the title, how to participate in discussions on strategy/culture, focus on pointing on what is going well, and what isn't (and back that up with facts, not mere opinions). State what you think should be improved (and why), but don't come with detailed plans on how to (as you won't be there to manage that). Do not give the impression that you are even entertaining the though you may stay if things change. (Chances are, they won't, or very slowly -- chance is hard).

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