2

I work as Software Team Lead in a "seasoned startup" (6 years old, around 60 employees) in Europe. I've been working there almost since its inception, first as an intern, then full time. Two years ago the company pivoted completely and switched from developing product Alpha for market A, to developing product Beta for market B. The reason for the switch was basically that product Alpha was too expensive and nobody was buying it. I've always been skeptical about product Beta, but recently I got definitely convinced that the business idea behind product Beta is fundamentally flawed. This is the main reason why, after six years at the company, I've decided to move on and accept another offer. I simply don't believe anymore that this startup is going to be successful.

I did not communicate my concerns to my manager before accepting the new offer, because I felt there was nothing he could have said to make me stay. I regret this choice, because my manager (with whom I have a very good relationship) was completely taken aback by my resignation. As a courtesy to my employer and to preserve good relationship, I've given a longer notice period than what I'm required to (four months).

When handing my resignation, I was very vague on the reasons for it ("I decided it's time for me to move on..."). I know that I don't owe him an explanation, however for the sake of maintaining a good relationship I now wonder if I should just be honest and tell him I don't believe in the company.

So to conclude my question is:

Should I tell my manager that I'm leaving because I don't believe in the company anymore, or is that just going to hurt future relationships?

5
  • If you think it would help your relationship then what drawbacks do you see to sharing this with him?
    – obe
    Jun 9 '21 at 19:28
  • Does this answer your question? How Honest Should I Be in An Exit Interview?
    – gnat
    Jun 9 '21 at 19:33
  • Do you expect/intend/wish to maintain any sort of personal relationship with your manager once you leave the place, or is it all professional on your part?
    – Ben Barden
    Jun 9 '21 at 19:38
  • I would wish to maintain a personal relationship with my manager, if possible
    – anon111222
    Jun 9 '21 at 19:40
  • @anon111222, As you wrote that you "wish to maintain a personal relationship with my manager", you should not tell him that you don't believe in startups or this company anymore. Simply, tell him "It's time for me to move on" as you did would be sufficient and diplomatic. Jun 9 '21 at 21:18
12

That depends a bit in what your desired outcome is. Here is a rubric you can use

  1. Don't tell them anything unless they actually ask.
  2. Take your cue from how the question is phrased. Is there a real desire to learn and understand and a willingness to take action? Or are are they just going through the motions; is it just detached curiosity or even vindictiveness?
  3. Only talk to a person that you trust and that you believe will actually benefit from the information and could be doing something useful with it.

This being said, I don't see anything wrong with telling your direct manager in private. It's good for them to hear that it's not their fault: losing a valuable employee is more often than not a direct management failure and this can be a ding on their self esteem and/or reputation.

Communicating any wider than that is probably not productive: the company is highly unlikely to change their strategy. Telling other people that you don't think it's viable will just create doubts and confusion which doesn't really help anyone in this case. You might be wrong after all.

2
  • I like your answer. My only objection: I do believe my manager has a "desire to learn and understand and a willingness to take action", but saying that I don't believe in the company is not really an actionable feedback, so I'm not sure if there is value in sharing that. However the point about "management failure" is valid.
    – anon111222
    Jun 10 '21 at 17:24
  • You loosing faith is actionable: if I were the CEO or VP I would discreetly take the pulse of the team to find out whether you are the exception or whether that sentiment is wide spread. If it's the latter there is big problem that needs to be addressed
    – Hilmar
    Jun 11 '21 at 19:52
5

Rule of thumb in leaving a company - DO NOT VOLUNTEER EXTRANEOUS INFORMATION

Meaning, you will not benefit from being more specific regarding your reasons etc

Vague, generic answers for unavoidable questions is the best way to go

2

Given that your main goal is to maintain personal relationship, the question rather belongs to the IPS domain rather than "workplace". With this in mind, I'd say yes, tell him.

Tell him personally rather than at the official exit interview or some such, although I would not hesitate to say that even officially. I believe that there is nothing wrong in saying that you don't believe in the company anymore: resigning is an honest and respectful act in such circumstances, as opposed to keeping working reluctantly, let alone sabotaging the work. Civilized people can agree to disagree and respect each other for that. If your manager doesn't see it that way and treats you as a traitor, he is not civilized and you probably don't want to keep close relationship with him.

If I were the manager in such position (with "very good relationship"), I would rather be offended by vague and generic responses you give. This means you don't trust me, and thus there is no reason to continue relationship.

Note that you are not even practically constrained by the "reference problem" as you already have a new job, so the risk is low in any case.

Finally, companies which don't seek and value honest feedback, die.

0
1

I know that I don't owe him an explanation, however for the sake of maintaining a good relationship I now wonder if I should just be honest and tell him I don't believe in the company.

Completely the wrong direction if you want to keep a good relationship.

You may not believe in the company, but *they do. You would essentially be saying, you think the company has such bad future prospects that you're willing to leave your job over it.

(* they, as in your manager and the company stakeholders. Assume anything you tell your manager will be written down and put in the companies records)

To say you don't believe in the company would be very insulting, and more likely burn bridges and loose a good reference.

It's like you're crapping all over their product as you walk out the door. Why didn't you raise your concerns before, and if you did, what makes you think they want to hear them now.

I'd probably stick to something along the lines of:

It has been great working here, but my career goals no longer align with the companies direction, therefore I've decided to move on.

3
  • Civilized people can agree to disagree. There is nothing insulting per se in saying that I don't agree with your opinion, or believe in your faith. (For example, I didn't downvote even though I disagree with this answer :)
    – Zeus
    Jun 10 '21 at 2:16
  • This isn't about difference in opinion. This is about saying the right thing to maintain a good reference/contact.
    – flexi
    Jun 10 '21 at 8:48
  • Saying you don't believe in a company isn't something any business wants to hear, from an employee it just sounds rude and ungrateful. -- Many business owners would consider it a personal attack.
    – flexi
    Jun 10 '21 at 8:54

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .