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I work in middle management in London and handed in my notice a month ago. I have a 3 month notice period. I have been asked by our HR team not to disclose this to the wider team. I get senior managers would want to have a plan in place before disclosing to the office that I am leave however we're 4 weeks in (1/3) of my notice served and recruitment hasn't started. I don't want to rock the boat but I do not want my team to feel left in the lurch or unprepared for their roles without me, how long do I give my employers before I request that the rest of the office be told? Or do I start telling people? The company has a track record of handling resignations poorly, two managers of a similar level have recently left and no official announcement was made, their teams found out from them in a social context after they had left, neither of these positions were advertised and no replacements are in place. I don't want this to happen with my role but I feel it might, the company can choose to not find a replacement but I don't want my leaving to damage the team. Advice greatly appreciated.

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    This is an aside, but I would assume you turned your notice in to your direct supervisor (as opposed to just HR) and that you have documented evidence of having done so? There is a remote chance that they will claim you never put in notice. It's much more likely that they have started recruitment and just aren't involving you in the process. Why would they want someone who has decided to leave to talk to the people they're trying to get to start? Feb 7 at 18:49
  • Have you talked to your actual superior (i.e. person / role which you regularly got your work assignments from before this situation)? What did they say? Feb 8 at 20:13
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    My notice was given formally in writing to my line manager and an end of contract date agreed. The recruitment process is standardised across the company and I have access to this programme, my line manager has also confirmed that they have not started recruiting yet, he has concerns about the amount of time it's taking to start the process which he has raised with directors. The company tends to spin their wheels then wait until the last minute to make a decision. I wouldn't expect to be involved in recruitment but I would manage training as the role is not something someone can just pick up. Feb 9 at 7:04

7 Answers 7

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I'll give you a different perspective. Speaking as a manager of a similar level to yourself, I try to put myself in your shoes. There's a couple of things I would consider:

  1. What, exactly, would the company sanction you with? You're already leaving and have worked one-third of your notice. Firing you doesn't hold much sway anymore.
  2. You're a manager and as such succession planning is absolutely part of your remit. If the organisation isn't going to ensure your team is looked after, you must give them the tools to do it themselves.

Maybe my perspective on this subject isn't great because my organisation doesn't handle resignations particularly well either, but for what it's worth if I were in your position and my teams were facing this, I couldn't not say anything. I respect the people in my teams too much to do that to them. The potential alternative is everyone going home on Friday and coming in the following Monday and not having a manager, not knowing where you are or what's happening next. That doesn't sit right with me.

We are managers, right? So why would we not manage the situation?

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    OP - figure out for yourself what the bare minimum notice would be that you'd like to give to your team. If/when that day approaches without anything from HR or your senior management, you'll probably need to take the decision yourself as to whether you're going to tell your team, against HR's wishes, and maintain your own sense of professionalism.
    – brhans
    Feb 7 at 12:41
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    @Vector Conversely though, being a manager of HR doesn't mean you're a manager of any other team. Company structures vary, sure, but typically HR are advisors to other managers. Unless the OP's direct superior has forbidden him to talk to his team about it - which is a team the OP's direct superior will de facto be leading in person when the OP leaves - then the OP has only been requested and not "instructed".
    – Graham
    Feb 7 at 23:16
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    @Vector in your examples you're asking if he would try to manage an unrelated team. The OP is talking about managing a team that he is still managing. Feb 8 at 11:49
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    We are managers, right? So why would we not manage the situation? - Because you were instructed by others with (ostensibly) more authority to manage things their way, not yours. Being a manager doesn't give you unlimited authority to act against the instructions of your employer. Your managerial powers are restricted by your employer and your designated role.
    – Vector
    Feb 8 at 19:27
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    Thank you. I have seen how detrimental managers leaving without any communication to their team can be and I have no intention of creating that stress for my team. There are things happening that mean everyone is walking on egg shells, my line manager is aware that staff cuts are probably looming so he's unwilling to push the directors on making a recruitment decision. To clarify I was not ordered not to tell anyone I was asked to give HR a week or so to put together an announcement and to create a plan. I have spoken to HR who have said the recruitment is now in the hands of the directors. Feb 9 at 7:17
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I have been asked by our HR team not to disclose this to the wider team.

You have been given a direct instruction by someone in your company with the authority to issue that instruction. There isn't even a question here about what you do.

I don't want my leaving to damage the team.

The company has made its decision about how it wants to handle your resignation. That's their choice and their responsibility, and they should be held accountable for it. Not your problem, move on to your next role.

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on The Workplace Meta, or in The Workplace Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – Kilisi
    Feb 10 at 6:03
  • I don't agree with this answer since it completely ignores the impact this will have. If we presuppose that you will be burning bridges whichever decision you take OP should try to answer for themselves if they'd rather piss off their former team members, or some people in HR. Me personally, I'd much rather keep a good relationship with my team than some HR execs.
    – fgysin
    Feb 27 at 9:20
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I would tend to view this somewhere in between ThaRobster's answer and Philip Kendall's answer:

Ask your supervisor.

Instead of just acting on your own authority or just doing what someone from HR said a month ago without question, I would recommend asking your supervisor (or else someone even higher up) when this should be done.

This isn't necessarily HR's decision to make, but it's also not necessarily yours considering you've been given instructions. I would recommend asking someone who does have the authority to make this decision when you should inform your team. And I would also recommend consulting with your supervisor regarding whether there are any additional steps that would be helpful in preparing your team for your departure and/or in planning for your replacement.

It's possible that there may be a good reason why HR was instructed to tell you not to tell your team about this yet. Perhaps some legal or policy reason on why the news shouldn't be spread yet. It's also possible that someone in HR either misunderstood an instruction they were given and/or just told you this without any real authority to give you this instruction. It doesn't sound like you know which, if any, of these is the case yet, so it's better to just ask.

Your supervisor should be able to tell you if/when you can tell your team and may also be able to provide further information about why you need (or don't need) to wait to tell them. Or, if your supervisor doesn't have those answers, they should be able direct you farther up the chain until you reach someone who is able to give you an authoritative answer.

Not telling your team at all without questioning that instruction could leave your team in a bad spot for the reasons you've already mentioned. On the other hand, telling them without asking first could cause other problems that you're not aware of (and that we random people on the Internet also aren't aware of.) So, it's better to just ask someone who actually has the authority to make that call why you were instructed not to tell your team yet and when you will be allowed to do so, pointing out as you have to us that you feel your team needs to know soon in order to prepare accordingly.

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Talk to your manager and HR. As long as you are employed, you shall follow their advice about this case.

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    Maybe better not to involve HR, who often have their own agenda. Particularly in this case, when it was HR who told the OP not to disclose.
    – Vector
    Feb 7 at 17:43
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    @Vector As a matter of fact, you MUST. They are the ones who has asked not to disclose (yet), so they are the best person to answer whether that statement is still valid or not. Feb 8 at 4:03
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    @SouravGhosh OP "MUST" by whose account? Who says the HR department has authority over what OP does and does not do? If the marketing department has an opinion about what I say and do not say within my team, I would ignore them. What makes the HR department different?
    – Chris_abc
    Feb 8 at 17:59
  • @SouravGhosh - HR are not your friends. I believe this is fairly well (at least in the US) by most who have worked in the corporate world for a while. HR often says and does things without knowledge of higher management because they have their own agenda, and grab power for themselves in areas where they have no legitimate jurisdiction.
    – Vector
    Feb 8 at 19:20
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    @Chris_abc Because, separation process is something in scope for HR department. Yes, you may very well ignore sales department in this regard, but I'd rather not overlook their advise, if I'm part of a sales deal and some decision needs to be made. Likewise. Feb 9 at 3:47
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Notify your team that you have resigned - in confidence - sometime soon

As other answers state, there are limited ways to sanction you, unless you have been given garden leave, golden parachute, etc - any sort of post-employment remuneration. If it was that important, you would have been offered some sort of strings-attached-money. It is professional to try your utmost to do what has been tasked you by your superiors, it is also professional to keep your team in "the know". You have waited 4 weeks. That is about right, I'd say. Notify the team, and let them know that this is not public information and is not to leave the room.

If you have been offered some kind of remuneration for the act of silence (among other things) I'd be more careful about it. That is both a signal that it is important for the company and it is an incentive to hold off. I'd still notify the team in advance and in confidence, but perhaps days or a week in advance. But YMMV.

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    "this is not public information and is not to leave the room" this just about guarantees that it will be shared as you have now given value to the information.
    – cdkMoose
    Feb 7 at 17:17
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    in confidence : Impossible - people talk, regardless.
    – Vector
    Feb 7 at 17:23
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    @cdkMoose If you have a shirty team ymmv I guess.
    – Stian
    Feb 7 at 21:05
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    @stian, all it takes is one person to want to take advantage, that doesn't make it a shirty team at all.
    – cdkMoose
    Feb 8 at 14:14
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    Aren't you just kicking the can down the road to your subordinates here? We may see a query here along the lines of 'my manager has told me in confidence that they are leaving. The company appears to be following thier usual tendency of doing nothing about refilling these important roles, problem is I can't bring it up with anyone without breaking my manager's confidence' Feb 8 at 19:12
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You could right now send everyone in the team an invitation for the after-work party, to be held on the day when you leave (say, just after office hours). When people start to ask what is it about, say that they should come and they'll find out.

That way:

  • you let the team them know you care about them and wish to inform them
  • smarter ones will figure it out, especially if the day is like last day of the month
  • you have followed HR restrictions and not told anyone you'll be leaving
  • you have a safe space after you're no longer employed to wish everyone good luck, explain why couldn't be upfront earlier, and have a few drinks on good old times. Don't drink and drive though - plan ahead.

(all that is assuming you have contacted your superiors and they didn't overrule HR restrictions. If they break out the news themselves, or instruct you to, you can tell it immediately. Even then, throwing a farewell party might be nice, especially if you were on friendly terms with the team)

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Follow the order but at a point where your team will find out, even if it's the last day, be sure to let them know that you wanted to tell them sooner but you had a direct order not to tell them from HR.

This way you tehnically fulfill the order and give reason to your team, in order not to burn any bridges between you and your collegues, because they might think you didn't trust them enough to tell them before.

From my perspective, this is the only way to follow the order but also leave the company on good terms with your team and keep them as part of your network. They can then decide for themselves how they want to view the company after knowing that HR doesn't want to inform them about their teammate leaving.

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