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I'm a junior software engineer in my 20's, and I've been employed with a big IT consultancy for the past 1.5 years. I live in western Europe

Currently right now, I'm on the bench, and around 2 weeks ago I accidentally (yes accidentally) expressed my interest in leaving the company to my manager. My manager then explained to me how to resign.

After a bit of thinking, I changed my mind and don't want to resign anymore. I told my manager and he was surprised. I notice from him that he's implicitly wanting me to resign, because for the past few months, my motivation has plummeted and he's struggling to find me a good project.

Of course, my manager doesn't like the idea that I'm on the bench. He'd rather have me leave. Therefore, recently he's told me that he potentially has a project lined up for me. I think he's attempting to scare me into leaving, because why would he get me a project when he's noticed that my motivation is gone and I'm considering to leave?

He has set up a meeting between me and HR to discuss my resignation, even though I told him I won't resign. Why did he do this?

Here's the backstory: 2 weeks ago I received a job offer (which I thought was good) and that made me tell my manager that I wanna quit. Then I made a U turn and discovered that job offer wasn't good. That made me tell my manager that I want to stay

Back in the winter, I was assigned on a project, and long story short, I had lost my motivation and somewhat deliberately got myself kicked off that project. The client wasn't happy. I don't want to get into details because it's irrelevant.

I got kicked off the project in spring and now I'm back on the bench

My plan is to stay on the bench, apply to jobs on the side, and work on side projects. My contract expires in summer and I want to take this time to find a job that I really love.

From the looks of it, my manager is smart enough to figure this out and wants to get rid of me now, because it's obviously bad for him if I stay on the bench being unproductive to the company.

My question is: does he genuinely want me to succeed in this potential project? Does he want me to stay in the company? Would the company give me permanent employment in summer?

Or is he trying to scare me by saying "I won't let you relax on the bench, if you wanna relax, go ahead and resign"

EDIT: the company cannot fire me. They must wait until summer to let my contract end, or extend it. I think they would've loved to fire me when I got kicked off the project

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    Random strangers on the internet don't know what your manager thinks. Either ask him directly, or expect the worst and plan accordingly. But what I think is certain: Your future is not in this company. If you "deiberately got myself kicked off a project, the client wasn't happy" then your company would be very stupid (or desperate) If they kept you onboard. You have marked yourself as an employee who does not care about the company or the customers. If I was your manager, I would try to fire you.
    – jwsc
    Mar 7, 2023 at 14:04
  • What does "on the bench" mean? Do you get paid for being "on the bench"? What do you do for the company while "on the bench"?
    – nvoigt
    Mar 7, 2023 at 15:49
  • In my experience "on the bench" applies to employees who would usually be working for clients and earning money for the company but who are currently not contracted out to any external client. The employee is still being paid and they may be doing work for their employer (like generating training material) but not something that is directly earning revenue for the employer. Consultancies do not like to have consultants that aren't earning money for them.
    – Eric Nolan
    Mar 7, 2023 at 17:00
  • Ended up here after your question of why u got fired 5 times in a row, and this is another one that proves you are not getting the point. Your motivation does not matter at all in the work environment, its secondary to getting work done.Also you are rejecting new projects when you are already not doing anything, ofc they want you to quit. Imagine having someone living on your couch and pay them to not do anything, come on Jack you can do better.
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Nov 6, 2023 at 17:28

5 Answers 5

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From your question history, it sounds like you've been fired 5 times before. You finally got a job that you've been able to hold for a year and a half but you managed to "somewhat deliberately" get yourself kicked out of a client project. That is not exactly the best resume to find a job you'll "really love" if you're let go at the end of your contract in the summer.

More than anything, you really, really need to take a look in a mirror and figure out what's going wrong that is causing you to have so many relatively short stints at different jobs. It is impossible for us to tell whether you have some mental health issues like depression that make it difficult for you to function, whether you are self-sabotaging for some other reason, or something else. But I'd strongly recommend a few sessions with a psychologist, a career counselor, or some other professional to try to figure out how to break the pattern you're in. It is very unlikely that you're going to magically discover your motivation at job 7 and be able to hold it for a reasonable period of time if you've failed to do so at the previous 6 jobs.

In posting this question, you emphasize that you "accidentally" told your manager that you wanted to resign. But then in the backstory, it sounds like you very intentionally told your manager that you wanted to resign based on a job offer you received. Then you found out that the job offer wasn't as good as you thought it was and changed your mind. That's not accidentally telling your boss something which doesn't make it easy to fully trust your other descriptions. Particularly when, by your own admission, some of your jobs have ended because you had a problem being forthright. And it doesn't create a lot of confidence that you'll be able to find another job that magically solves all your problems.

Your absolute best case scenario is that your boss is willing to put you on another project and you manage to do passable work on that project. I struggle to imagine why your boss would allow you to jeopardize a second client relationship at this point. But if he is, you should take the opportunity. At a minimum, you'd get a few months of work experience which given your checkered history would be quite valuable. If you're marginally productive, your employer would potentially be willing to extend your contract in the summer so you could show that you managed to hold a job for 2 years when applying to new roles. If you aren't able to suck up whatever is making you unmotivated for 3 months, that is a massive red flag that you need professional assistance. Every job is going to have periods where you're doing something you don't love for a couple months-- if you can't do that now, you need to understand what you need to change so you can do that in the future.

Potentially, you're early enough in your career that people are willing to overlook your train wreck of a job history because you interview well. And that willingness may continue for a while. But that will end and it will likely end pretty abruptly. You need to build up a reasonable job history before that happens. And a series of jobs that have lasted between a few weeks and 18 months is not going to be that job history. If you want to have a job you love in your 30's and 40's, you're going to need to learn to deal with a certain amount of less enjoyable tasks in your 20's.

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I'm sorry I have to be blunt, but you need to hear and understand this:

You said "I was assigned on a project, and long story short, I had lost my motivation and somewhat deliberately got myself kicked off that project."

That would certainly be enough to make me doubt the value of retaining you. Extremely unprofessional behavior. Unless I believed there was a medical reason such as major depression, "losing motivation" is never a reason to "get yourself kicked off a project." You take that to your manager and ask them to reassign you, and until they do you do the best work you can whether you are motivated or not. Because that's what you signed up for.

Taking a paycheck while trying to do minimal work because you're looking for another job is Not An Option. You either earn the pay or you're fired for cause.

You are already going to have a hard time getting a decent referral from this manager. You seem determined to make that worse...

That isn't scaring you. That's business. That's reality. There is no bench with income. (Certain unionized jobs where firing someone is especially difficult, like teachers in NYC, may or may not be an exception.) You work at what you are assigned to, you negotiate to be reassigned, you leave voluntarily, or you get fired. Pick one.

Surprisingly, he's giving you a last chance to not screw up. Unless you did have a remarkably good reason, or you were my brother, it sounds like it's more than I would have done, and I've been through both major depression and extended recovery from a medical event that left me working far below my best. I understand being impaired; I also understand that it's not an excuse for not trying.

If the issue is clinical depression, which does manifest as loss of motivation among its other symptoms, it is a medical condition and IT CAN BE TREATED. Get assistance. Otherwise you're going to fail to hold the next job too.

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  • The OP has made an edit which could affect the interpretation of the reassignment as a last chance.
    – Anonyma
    Mar 7, 2023 at 16:53
  • I'll take a look, but given that they can already dismiss for cause and the alternative seemed to be "can I stay on the bench but still draw pay" I'd still suggest that if they don't take the assignment they're on their way out for cause, whereas if they make an effort it may be possible to continue in this job until something better shows up. This isn't a case of reassign to cause failure; they already failed. It may be a case of moving them to where they do less damage , but ...
    – keshlam
    Mar 7, 2023 at 18:47
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    I see the querant has removed that bit of backstory. Unfortunately they did say it and I'm inclined to retain my reaction to it -- and removing it doesn't change the answer: imagining that they can continue to not do their job while drawing pay is a delusion at best, and they're on their way toward making themselves not only unemployed but unemployable unless they fix their mindset. Which may involve getting help in fixing their mind, or may just require facing reality on their own.
    – keshlam
    Mar 8, 2023 at 16:53
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As the old saying goes "actions speak louder than words" - and your actions over the last few months appear to having been signalling loud and clear that you don't want to be there and will jump ship as soon as convenient:

  1. You sabotaged your placement on a project - employees who want to stay don't do this sort of thing. Even in your situation where you can't be outright fired for it, it is a one-way ticket to not getting your contract renewed.

  2. If your manager hasn't fully realised the above the "lack of motivation" clearly has been realised, and just like point 1 this is a great way to not get your contract renewed.

  3. You expressed a desire to leave for another position elsewhere.

I imagine that once #3 happened points 1 and/or 2 were suddenly brought into sharp focus. Your lacklustre motivation and performance totally fits with someone who wants out. And that is why your manager thinks you are planning to leave - because next to that your recent claim that you want to say is like a whisper in a gale. You might have succeeded in showing him that the offer you previously got wasn't "good enough" but that doesn't mean you aren't still planning on taking one tomorrow, or the next day if it is. Keeping you on the proverbial bench might be costly - but it's quite likely to be less costly than putting you on another client project and having you perform badly (annoying another client) or quit and need replacing part way through.

If he can't fire you then keeping you on the bench and mitigating and potential risk is a more sensible option - and I can fully understand if he's actually rather hoping that you resign. It would save the company the cost of paying out your contract and he can then presumably take someone on who he can actually use.

Since it sounds as though there potentially is a project where he could use you pressing the issue about whether you're going to recommit to the existing contract is smart, because as mentioned above if they put you on a project and it goes like the last one it's going to be a serious headache for him.

Given you've already let the cat out of the bag about looking for other roles the normal guidance about keeping your own counsel doesn't really apply here - if you really want to stay (at least until the end of your contract) then you're probably better off confessing that you were going to leave but that you absolutely, definitely want to stay now and you intend to do your best effort over the remaining term of your contract.

On the other hand if you want to just sit on the bench, and basically get paid to do the minimum, then I guess that's potentially something you could try - even if it does constitute the dropping-a-nuclear-bomb-on-the-bridge option. It's a pretty safe bet that should your professional path cross with anyone aware of you doing do in the future they'll remember that - and you never know when the manager you give the middle finger to now might crop up as the hiring manager at your dream job in 5 years time.

From what you've described I'm assuming you're on a fixed term contract under TzBfG, this doesn't grant you total immunity from being fired - there's still room within German law for terminating those contracts with "compelling reason" IIRC. I'm not a lawyer, let alone a German employment lawyer - but do you really want to find out if refusing to fulfil the purpose of the contract counts as such?

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We don't know what your manager is thinking and we can't tell. They are the only ones who can tell.

However, one thing is very clear: You made a very big mistake, bringing up the topic of resignation yourself, when you do not have another job lined up (i.e., confirmed).

Does he want me to stay in the company? Would the company give me permanent employment in summer?

Now that they have the knowledge that you want to leave, combined with the scenario that you described, it's very likely that they don't want you to continue. However, we cannot tell for sure, and neither should you keep wondering about the same.

Do not waste your time thinking about things beyond your control - use the time you have wisely - start looking for other opportunities NOW.

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Of course, my manager doesn't like the idea that I'm on the bench. He'd rather have me leave. Therefore, recently he's told me that he potentially has a project lined up for me. I think he's attempting to scare me into leaving, because why would he get me a project when he's noticed that my motivation is gone and I'm considering to leave?

Being on the bench is the worst of all worlds for your manager. Sometimes it's unavoidable as client work doesn't come in at the perfect time, but every dev on the bench is being paid while producing nothing billable.

It doesn't necessarily follow he's trying to get rid of you; he may have seen your motivation drop and want you to get back to good form and be productive again. But he certainly wants you to make up your mind - if there's a project coming up, you either need to recover your mojo and make a good job of it, or move on. Edit: The fact that you brought up resignation yourself, in a half-hearted way - you thought you had a better offer, then you didn't, now you tell him you don't want to leave after all - only adds to his perception that you're drifting along while you don't really don't know what you want.

The client wasn't happy. I don't want to get into details because it's irrelevant.

You were probably lucky not to be let go over this. You could consider it a mark of the company's faith in you that you are still there at all. However, it certainly sharpens the focus on this upcoming project - it is almost certainly your last chance to re-establish your reputation here.

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  • I forgot to mention that my company cannot fire me. only in summer my contract will expire and they'll have the choice of renewing it or not Mar 7, 2023 at 14:09
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    my company cannot fire me - how is that? @MrHunchoJack Mar 7, 2023 at 14:10
  • it's the law in my country. a 6-12 month contract cannot be terminated. only the employee can terminate it Mar 7, 2023 at 14:13
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    @MrHunchoJack You might want to read again your contract. The company can definitely fire you if they want. They might have to pay you from a couple of weeks to up to two months depending where you are located and your contract details, but they can send you home tomorrow if they want
    – Elerium115
    Mar 7, 2023 at 14:39
  • @SembeiNorimaki Not really, In my country we have something that is a mix of Intern and a Job, that's arranged by the government for people unemployed (voluntary) where these kinds of contracts are common. The state pays 70% of the salary for 6–12 months, and in the end the company can either renew contract and get a bonus (and less taxes blah blah) per employee that stays, in that period, unless you don't show up, no one has power over you. This is usually only done when people have really low skill levels (reported through most of their past jobs), or are considered retarded/Anti-social.
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Nov 6, 2023 at 17:49

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