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I handed my notice in some time ago. My boss (director of the company) has asked me not to say anything to my team and colleagues. She says she needs to protect the business as she is worried about a domino effect of people following me as I am quite influential within the business. She has tried and failed to get me to change my mind about leaving and I don't believe she knows how to replace me.

My boss is finding every excuse not to tell the team saying she is working on something and needs more time.

I only have 10 days left of my notice period and am talking with colleagues about work I know I'm never going to be involved in. Should I just go ahead and tell my team I'm leaving so I don't have to continue lying to people I respect?

25

I only have 10 days left of my notice period and am talking with colleagues about work I know I'm never going to be involved in. Should I just go ahead and tell my team I'm leaving so I don't have to continue lying to people I respect?

I think it's perfectly reasonable to let your colleagues know that you are leaving.

A good way to do this is to sit down with your boss and express your concerns about not telling others. This time, indicate that you will be telling folks on a particular date, and ask how she would like to handle it.

Something like: "Boss, I think it's fair for me to tell others that I'll be leaving soon, so that they can plan their projects appropriately. I'm planning to start telling people on Friday. Is there any particular way you'd like me to handle this?"

Then, if your boss still objects to letting folks know, don't agree to remain silent. You are going to be gone soon anyway, it's unlikely she would try to enforce your continued silence.

Most reasonable bosses would go along with your wishes, perhaps make an announcement to the team, and likely help plan your farewell lunch. Perhaps your boss is reasonable, perhaps not - now you'll find out.

  • I don't understand where the motivation is coming from to play "hero" and tell your coworkers? If you're leaving the company it just doesn't make sense to me to create friction just because one can get away with it. If the company is doing dishonest things then I could see motivation to warn people, but otherwise it seems like a waste of time and honestly not your place to go against what the business asks. To a future employer it might show that you are going to do whatever you want if there's no repercussions. – The Muffin Man Jan 6 '16 at 18:48
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    @TheMuffinMan - I agree with Joe. It would be very insulting to the team. The manager has to deal with breaking the news eventually anyway, so it may as well be now. – AndreiROM Jan 6 '16 at 19:13
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    Thanks for the alternate perspective, I was thinking of the situation where your coworkers were not friends. – The Muffin Man Jan 6 '16 at 19:19
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    @TheMuffinMan Upholding commonly held standards of workplace decency is hardly "playing hero" or "creating friction". The whole point of a notice period is to let the proper transition of responsiblities take place. Indeed, to let coworkers believe that the project will be completed on schedule or that something they asked you for will be delivered when you know that is not the case (due to your departure) is playing "jerk". The alternative, which is to inform them you can't do X without proper explanation, would create plenty of friction. – Chan-Ho Suh Jan 7 '16 at 18:11
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    @TheMuffinMan - This is not a self-centered plan. It is about showing respect to your colleagues and other contacts. You should not put them in a position of going home on a Friday thinking that they have given you all the materials necessary to do a project, and having relied on your skills and abilities, only to come in Monday morning and find an empty chair and a bouncing email address. It is also about demonstrating control and professionalism, and not allowing an (apparently) off-the-wall manager to take out their temper tantrum at your expense after you've gone. – Wesley Long Apr 11 '16 at 18:43
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Is your boss going to tell anyone you've left after you are gone? I think they are going to notice, eventually!

It's awkward to oppose your boss, but I think it is wise for you to tell people before you go. Because you don't get to control the messaging after you are gone, and who knows what your boss is going to say. Your reputation is on the line.

Telling people before you leave is also the right thing to do for the company. They need to know you are leaving. If you don't, it's going to be quite shocking when everyone discovers you are gone, and they had no idea. That's going to make your boss look bad, and your boss may try deflect the criticism by throwing it back on you. Again, your reputation is on the line.

  • I don't know how long your notice period was, but if there's only 10 days left, that's got to be a huge red flag to the rest of the business that one guy left and the boss was paralyzed by that. – Nolo Problemo Jan 6 '16 at 22:12
  • Awkward as it is, your boss has asked you not to tell. You need to honor that. – Bill Leeper Apr 11 '16 at 20:08
  • "Your reputation is on the line." This is a good point. – MealyPotatoes Apr 12 '16 at 2:49
9

Talk to your boss about it and remind her that you will need the last ten days to transition work to other people. Then sit down and make a plan with her as to what tasks will be transitioned to who and what information you need to leave for them for the transition and set up a Knowledge Transfer session for each of those people.

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    +1 I'm surprised most people don't mention this. The whole point of a notice period is to make proper preparations, including knowledge transfer. Keeping departure secret until the last minute hardly helps your coworkers. – Chan-Ho Suh Jan 7 '16 at 18:09
  • +1 and an added comment that a good knowledge transfer document takes a month to compile for one application. When you are working on multiple projects, 10 days is not enough time to address all the knowledge you need to transfer. – Marion Apr 12 '16 at 2:20
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It seems to me that your boss is digging herself a deeper hole by telling you not to tell your coworkers. It would be completely unreasonable for her to expect that if asked by your former coworkers after you leave that you would not explain that you did not tell them in advance because she asked you not to. In my opinion, this will reflect very poorly on her, since it is mostly an annoyance to your coworkers who were expecting you to come back to work the Monday after you leave and now have to deal with not having you without warning. In addition, her request really does not buy her very much time at this point, and more importantly if someone would leave because you left, they are not going to change their mind because you did it suddenly, in fact my guess is that they would be more likely to do it if anything. So, you may be able to go to her with all of this and convince her to remove her gag order on you. If you are not able to do that, my advice is to continue to stay silent as requested, make sure you have contact information for your coworkers and message them explaining that you are leaving and why you have not told them until then as soon as possible after your last day is over, so they are at least aware that you will not be there the next time they come in.

  • this post is rather hard to read (wall of text). Would you mind editing it into a better shape? – gnat Apr 12 '16 at 14:11
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It seems like the best approach would be to go to your boss and ask for a detailed explanation. In the process, you should explain the fact that it will cause problems for you to promise work which you cannot deliver and that you need to be open about your lack of availability. If that fails, then it would likely be a good idea to go along with your boss's request: burn no bridges when leaving a company. Even if you never expect to see the person again, I have encountered people whose applications were squashed because someone told their future manager about past behavior.

For interacting with your co-workers, it would be a good idea to avoid making promises about availability. If you are asked why you could offer, "I have a personal conflict and my boss and I are trying to work out details".

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You COULD answer questions with, "I'm not going to be here on (date)". When asked where you're going, just say, "I can't share that with you." People will figure stuff out on their own, and if your boss asks, you can be honest in saying you haven't told anyone you are leaving. Got it?

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    This is just another way of telling people. It won't end well. – Bill Leeper Apr 11 '16 at 20:04
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If you are being paid and your company has been fair to you then I think you should abide by you bosses request.

As it gets down the the final days I just disagree with your boss. You just gone one day without them being able to say good bye will cause more disruption.

On the last week approach your boss again. Tell her you have no intentions of saying anything bad about the company nor disclosing where you are going.

Let's say you had requested to your boss that you did not wish to have your leaving disclosed. Would you feel it would be fair for them to ignore your request?

-3

I personally wouldn't tell them because you have a duty to give 100% until you quit. Having your coworkers become prematurely demotivated doesn't contribute to that and they should understand once they do find out that it was nothing personal.

The only recourse I could see from telling them against your bosses wishes is that you don't get a favorable reference in the future. If you don't plan to use them as a reference anyways then that won't matter.

Some things that would influence my decision would be my relationship with my employer, if they've always done good by me then I would lean towards not telling my coworkers, but if they are just bad, dishonest people then maybe it would make sense to tell them.

  • Using them as a reference isn't the only thing. Based on what I've learned from a Disney song, its a small world, after-all. This boss, may eventually be your boss again at a different company, you might be her boss.. You left, so can she. I'd do as 'ordered', once leave, tell whoever you close with why you left so suddenly, word will get out that you did not get fired for urinating in the coffee pot or something sinister. If she tries to say that. – Dan Shaffer Jan 6 '16 at 20:03
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    -1 continuing to work normally, taking on additional responsibilities you know you won't handle due to your departure, is not "giving 100%". It's very important as part of the transition of responsibilities that people be told beforehand so proper knowledge transfer can take place. – Chan-Ho Suh Jan 7 '16 at 18:08
  • @Chan-HoSuh I agree with you it's very important, but you're leaving the company and you're not the boss. Your superiors have told you what they would like you to do. Your reasons for your opinion only include what's best for the company and the company has told you what they want you to do so it doesn't sound like you've thought this opinion out. – The Muffin Man Jan 7 '16 at 19:00
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    @TheMuffinMan I don't know how your company works, but my boss doesn't get to be the sole arbiter of company policy. There are policies in place and the notification period is clearly stated to be for this reason: employees are directed to work cooperatively with others to make the transition as painless as possible. No boss, even the CEO, can unilaterally override this. So yes, I have thought about this, and so did the people who formulated the firm's policy. – Chan-Ho Suh Jan 7 '16 at 20:10
  • @Chan-HoSuh That makes sense. The asker didn't make any mention of company policy so I think it was safe to assume that what the leaders of the company asked him to do was the policy. It seems like we agree with each other on this subject, that is we both think it's important to follow the policy. – The Muffin Man Jan 7 '16 at 20:20

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