# Participating in Annual Review WHILE in negotiations for new position elsewhere. Make unhappiness known?

My current company has no idea I'm looking for other opportunities and quite honestly, I think they'd be blindsided if I resigned, mostly because this is the type of company where people stay for 10+ years and I am the newest hire, at three years "old" with them.

During my interview process with another company over the past month, my current employer gave me a raise. They were behind on annual reviews, so it appeared in my check before they could actually review me. My official review is scheduled for today, where I will basically learn why they decided to give me a raise, etc. I'm expecting it to be a positive review, but my boss has already mentioned she wants to hear my "issues and concerns," as well.

I have many, many issues, but the majority are not ones that they can fix for me (without changing the nature of the position I was hired for), hence the job search.

If there is a strong likelihood I will be handing in my resignation within a week, how should I handle today's review? Should I make my unhappiness known, or keep my ('unfixable') issues to myself, keeping in mind that I might not be resigning in a week and I could have to stay a while longer until I find something else?

My guess is there's a fine line between constructive criticism and the fact that constructive criticism has already been provided and essentially ignored, which largely the reason that I'm seeking other opportunities. My fear is that if I pretend everything is fine and then resign in a week, they may feel deceived and I don't want that.

• – Stephan Kolassa Feb 3 '15 at 14:21
• This is definitely related, although not entirely similar, because this is my annual review, not an exit interview. So, I don't know how much to disclose during my annual review despite the fact that it could essentially be viewed as an exit interview; but only after the fact. – jobseeker22 Feb 3 '15 at 14:30
• That will be related, but only once he has an an exit interview :) – Paul Draper Feb 3 '15 at 19:03
• It is common in companies where most people have been there for 10+ year, for there to be large turnover of “newcomers”. The average length of service tends to be a lot less than the average time that current staff has worked at the employer. – Ian Feb 4 '15 at 11:09

If there is a strong likelihood I will be handing in my resignation within a week, how should I handle today's review?

Until the ink is dry, you treat this review as you would if you were not leaving.

If that would mean that you raise concerns about your position and future with the company (or that your previous concerns were ignored), go nuts. If that means you keep quiet and don't rock the boat, that's good too.

My guess is there's a fine line between constructive criticism and the fact that constructive criticism has already been provided and essentially ignored, which largely the reason that I'm seeking other opportunities.

Just like other things in the business world, you occasionally need to follow up. If you raised concerns and they were ignored, it may be worthwhile to discuss them. "Why wasn't XYZ addressed?". It may be that your manager thought that they were dealt with. It may be that your manager has something in the works. It may be that your manager has their hands tied and can't help. It might be that your manager didn't understand the severity of your concerns. It might be that they think your expectations are unreasonable, and you can discuss why (and try to change each other's minds).

Especially at review time, this sort of thing is to be expected. You won't know unless you communicate.

• ... but note that because you think you have your next position lined up, you may speak freer than you really want to. prepare yourself well. – mart Feb 3 '15 at 14:33
• This is exactly the right answer IMO. I had almost the same situation. Got a new boss, got my performance review, my title was updated to reflect my actual job.... and then resigned 2 days later when I received the formal offer from my new job. In my review, I discussed a number of the issues that I had with the intention of trying to fix them (either for myself, or my replacement). – psubsee2003 Feb 4 '15 at 12:21

You should always be honest with your manager in your annual review. You don't have to let them know you're searching for new opportunities, but if there are real problems they need to be addressed. If they can't address them, they at least need to be aware of them. Whether they correct the issues for you in time to prevent you leaving or not, it doesn't do anyone any good to withhold that information.

If you pretend everything is fine and then quit, it's likely they will feel deceived, and that's a fair judgment because you will have deceived them. However, you can still make your concerns known without just outright complaining. Don't be critical or aggressive. Don't let any comments become personal. Simply identify the problem areas and make it known that they are of concern to you.

I've noticed we're in danger of missing X deadline because of interference from other groups. This is troublesome to me.

I'm having difficulty reconciling the disparity between policy and action when it comes to various individuals I'd prefer not to name.

Keep it generic and isolated to the topic you wish to discuss. If you've identified problems, then while your resignation may "blind-side" them, it won't be a complete shock and it certainly won't feel deceptive.

• This is generally great advice. My only remaining concern is being assigned "action items" that I would not be able to follow up on if I were to resign in a week. In a weekly meeting last week, I volunteered to take on daily task, because it's in my nature to step up to the plate, especially when no one else will. However, I immediately felt guilty after doing so, knowing in the back of my mind I could be leaving shortly thereafter and the task would fall onto someone else. I understand this isn't really my problem, but it's just a notion I'm struggling with. – jobseeker22 Feb 3 '15 at 14:33
• Knowing you "could be" leaving is different than knowing you are leaving. No choices have been made yet, and doing your job any differently than you otherwise would do could show a stark lack of integrity (which I doubt applies). If you do end up taking a different position, I'd expect you'd work just as hard at transitioning your tasks (new and old) to whoever is designated to take them up for you when you're gone. – Joel Etherton Feb 3 '15 at 14:35
• Knowing you "could be" leaving is different than knowing you are leaving. This. I've been working on a new position for over a month now. I've tried to continue work at my current job as if my life depended on it, because until the ink dries it's not a new job. (Just put my notice in today because I'm leaving early to sign the paperwork) – WernerCD Feb 3 '15 at 17:55

I've had this come up somewhat recently with me, and at the time I let them know the issues (basically i was doing 1/2 or 1/3 of the work of team of 6, so at least 2x more than average, maybe 3x more). I also let them know my salary level was way low for the job I was doing (there was an attempt to get me to a higher level but I did not have the 10+ years of experience required (lol)). I think basically my viewpoint is let them know about issues, but don't harp on it. And definitely do not bad-mouth people, and don't burn bridges. It's a small world, and I may see those folks again someday. And don't mention the new job until you have an offer.

• How do you know you are doing 1/2 to 1/3 of the work? It might interest you to know that it is not uncommon for the absolute worst member of the team to have the same belief. – Dunk Feb 3 '15 at 21:20
• @reirab:I like to be the contrarian:) For some reason people like to confide in me. I have no idea why, maybe because I don't gossip (except anonymously on the web) so they trust me. Anyways, I can't tell you how many times I've had project "misfits" talking to me and expressing how it is just them and I who are doing all the work. Everybody else is worthless. When the fact is that they are the only one on the project who is worthless. People tend to be very bad at judging their talent, particularly when they are bad at their craft. Over-achievers tend to underestimate their talent. – Dunk Feb 3 '15 at 23:27
• A lot of the more experience staff can be sorting out support problems, helping with sales, inputting into the next product cycle, etc. Without doing it is way the effects you work, so letting you get on with your work, without even knowing what they are going. – Ian Feb 4 '15 at 11:08
• @Rob: I am not claiming that you didn't do exactly what you claim. I was just pointing out that people's perceptions are often wrong, especially when they aren't receiving the recognition they believe they deserve. – Dunk Feb 4 '15 at 18:43
• To emphasize Ian's comment, I remember my first project out of school, I could swear the SW Lead and Program Manager did just about nothing. They didn't code, they didn't design, they gathered status was all I saw. Well, my next project the lead and manager were very involved, seemingly contributing a lot. But it all fell apart because all that stuff that the SW Lead and Manager on project 1 were doing behind the scenes, wasn't being done on project 2. And believe me, it was a lot. Mind boggling actually on how easy they made it seem to accomplish all those management type tasks. – Dunk Feb 4 '15 at 18:44

Whatever your concerns are, a company can try to compensate you in other areas or get a little creative. It doesn't have to be a fix for that specific problem. Examples: They can't pay you more money, but they could offer flex-time or a deferred compensation plan. If you have a lengthy commute, they could allow you to come into the office later when traffic isn't as heavy.

You have to judge your company/supervisor on their ability to accept feedback. Since they're asking you, I'd say you should tell them everything, but some people will think you're just a complainer. If you don't tell them, there's nothing they can do about it unless they read minds. It is possible they could over-compensate in areas that don't appeal to you. Tell them what you want or you risk not getting it and end up with a company stapler with your name on it.