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TLDR: Should I report my boss' shortcomings to HR after quitting (but before actually leaving the company)?

I have been working as a senior developer at a large IT company for the past 4 years. Somewhere in the middle I wanted to change my team because I felt stuck in the old one. Around the same time a reorganisation was going on, so also I got a new boss. I never heard what happened to my former boss, only that he doesn't work in the company anymore. His dismissal was never communicated.

I approached my new boss because of my plans to change the team, which he got in motion very quickly. I also asked for a salary raise because my current salary was clearly below what others in a similar positions earn (he even confirmed this). He snapped at me, saying this is the wrong time to ask for a raise, that if I don't like it I should look for another job, that he was here to stay and that we wouldn't get rid of me so quickly. I was surprised to say the least, not the reaction I had expected.

I had several other conversations with him about getting a raise/promotion, those were mostly in a calmer tone. He promised me a "substantial raise" the following year, if I proved myself in my new team.

I did prove myself in my new team. I quickly grew into a source of knowledge for the new team, and acted as a mentor for others. Every year we assess ourselves within the team, which can be relevant for a promotion/raise (at the end however, the management decides). My teammates recognized the work I do and unanimously gave me only the highest ratings. My boss knows this and even confirmed he only heard good things about me. However, still no raise, just another comment about probably being better off at a new company.

I have mixed feelings towards my new boss. On the one hand he can be quite sociable and helped me effectively with my internal change. He also always took the time for a talk when I asked for it. On the other hand, I think he never really cared if I stay or go. Nothing really changed salary-wise. He also gave me hints several times that it would be best for me if I quit, which I wouldn't expect from my boss. He also stalled me with false promises about my promotion/raise. I should also mention here that my boss has 200+ employees to supervise, so I have to be lucky if he even knows my name. So I know it's nothing personal, especially since I head others complaining about the same issues.

I meanwhile drew the obvious conclusions and put in my notice. We have an internal tool for this, allowing to give a reason for quitting. I selected "lack of trust in supervisor". I was contacted by HR shortly afterwards, scheduling a meeting so we could talk about this.

My question is now: Is it a good idea to spill my guts to HR or will this backfire at me in any way? (e.g. as a bad testimonial)

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4 Answers 4

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Two Words: "Exit Interview".

This is the appropriate venue to raise issues such as these, if your company doesn't do exit interviews, you can request one.

That said, ask yourself what you gain from 'Spilling the Beans' - you are already leaving - and therein lies the real answer.

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My question is now: Is it a good idea to spill my guts to HR or will this backfire at me in any way?

It's kind of too late for this. The cat is out of the bag and it won't go in again. You can refuse to elaborate but that's probably going to make it worse: if HR actually wants to follow up and isn't getting anything from you the only other person to talk to is your boss, who will be miffed about this and present a very one-sided version of the story.

My recommendation would to be moderately co-operative: This really isn't hard to explain: you are feeling underpaid (which you can easily back up by reviews and comparative salaries), you have specifically asked for raises but have been consistently declined with no outlook of improvement. So your only viable option is to leave.

"lack of trust in supervisor".

That wasn't a great choice since it puts blame on your boss and blaming rarely helps and can backfire. You can adapt this to your compensation story: "What I meant is that I don't trust my supervisor to address the compensation issue. They have said so themselves". If you want the turn it up a notch you can say: "My boss has repeatedly said to me that I'm probably better off somewhere else, so that's what I'm doing".

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  • You can even mention "He promised me a "substantial raise" the following year, if I proved myself in my new team." because that specifically is something you need to trust someone about
    – Borgh
    Nov 29, 2022 at 8:58
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I'm a bit confused on why you felt like your couldn't trust your boss.

Your boss repeatably told you that you would be better off going to another company if you wanted more money. They followed that up by not offering you an increased salary at any point.

All the good reviews doesn't matter. They explicitly told you the reality of the situation, and you didn't take in on-board?

If your boss has over 200 employees to manage, you can't expect a high degree of empathy. They are not going to bend over backwards to keep you happy. It's just not possible. The best you can hope for in honesty, which it seems like you got.

It sounds like you want an organisational structure where you basically feel more valued as an individual.

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    As I wrote, I was promised a raise under the condition I proved myself in my new role in the new team. I did that, but my boss didn't follow up, therefore the trust issues. There were also other things happening, which are just not ok, I just gave this as an example. My question was actually whether I should report this after working. But reading the other answers here it's probably not a good idea. Thanks still for your feedback.
    – stu
    Nov 30, 2022 at 11:48
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The time to raise it was before you quit, in a skip-level meeting with your boss's boss.

But it sounds like your boss was doing exactly what his job required, and your second-level would have told you that. You asked, I presume, what the company would need to see from you to earn a raise. If you were told it simply wasn't going to happen, grumbling won't do anything to make them like you more. Rather the reverse.

There might have been somewhere else in the company, if you have the skills for it, where you might be valuable enough to merit a raise (if the budget is there for a raise)... but if you go in thinking you're automatically entitled to it, that suggestion isn't going to be made because you wouldn't pass the interview.

Generally you have to prove you're worth more before they'll even consider giving you more. Automatic raises/promotions are an artifact of early career; after that you need to earn it and are in active competition for it with every other employee. If you were already getting superlative performance reviews and not getting anywhere, changing jobs is the correct answer. If you aren't getting those top rankings, you aren't likely to get the raise.

Welcome to the workplace.

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  • I did prove I'm worth more, and he even confirmed it. But that's not the point. The question is not about the raise, but about whether reporting stuff that happened after my dismissal. Maybe I should have emphasized that better, but thanks for your answer. You're totally right and I drew the consequences by changing to a new company.
    – stu
    Nov 30, 2022 at 11:52
  • Complaining about what appears to be company policy after you have left the company is not useful. Full stop.
    – keshlam
    Nov 30, 2022 at 16:48

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