Possibly related to How is "abandoning the ship" perceived?

I have taken over a lead role on a troubled project 3/4 of the way through the expected development period. I always enjoy a challenge as well as the opportunity to mentor my team and I am doing everything I can to turn things around, but there are major issues with the project, many of which cannot be immediately addressed (if at all).

I have provided a technical assessment to my manager, and I have also provided a realistic (although very tight) timeline to complete the minimum required scope of work based on team velocity to date. The project was originally slated to end soon, however the project release date has now slipped well in to the new year past my contract end date. I make it a point to always finish my contracts and I will always honor my commitments to my clients. That being said, I am wrestling with whether or not I should renew to see a release out the door and through warranty.

Given that the project end date has now slipped well past my current contract end date, what is the professional impact of choosing not to renew before project completion (or first major release in this case)?

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    Unless the position is injurous to your health, there's some rate that would make it worthwhile to stay. Ask for it. You might be surprised. Oct 21, 2014 at 8:19

2 Answers 2


You always have to remember that the business of business is business. Your company wouldn't hesitate to dump you (in a heartbeat) if it made good financial sense to do so. By the same token, you need to ensure that you look out for yourself as your first priority.

If the project has slipped past its project date, if you suspect that it won't ship within a reasonable timescale and if you feel that you could be doing something more interesting/profitable/worthwhile elsewhere, you shouldn't hesitate to fail to renew, even if that means that you risk your current employer experiencing some difficulty or bad feeling.

It's down to the company to staff correctly. Ultimately this includes the "run down by a bus" test. What would they do if you simply disappeared one day?


This depends on the company, your relationship with your immediate manager and the wording of the contract. I am also going to assume that you have a new contract or the original contract has clauses covering working beyond the initial end date. Working without a contract may be questionably legal in some jurisdictions.

From my own personal experience (in Australia, other countries may vary), it is acceptable to not renew a contract. After all, a contract states you will perform a role for a time for remuneration. A contract is not indentured servitude and you have worked beyond the end of the initial contract.

The key is to be professional about it. Give the organization plenty of notice (at least as much as specified in the contract). Make sure your own work is documented well and communicated to those taking over from you. If there is a specified replacement, involve them in your work straight away so they have the most time to get accustomed to the new role.

As with leaving any role, be prepared for pushback. If they are in the middle of a delayed project, your manager is not going to be happy, particularly someone with a lead role. However, that is a risk of using contractors (or even a permanent employee).

No matter how bad things seem, do not leave until you have a new position lined up (as in a signed employment contract). If asked why you were leaving, just say the new role is a much better opportunity.

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