I'm considering resigning my salaried position. I want to leave on good terms. When asking to be replaced, would it be unprofessional to pose what is essentially an ultimatum?

I had expected the Project X to transition from development to maintenance by the end of last year. I'm eager to move on with entrepreneurial and civic philanthropy projects.

Please begin seeking my replacement. I'm willing to remain on board until the end of April, or for as long as we're willing to back-burner Project Y and Project Z to focus exclusively on readying Project X for deployment, whichever is longer.

Some details which may or may not be relevant:

  • I'm the sole developer for the client side of Project X.
  • The language and platform are popular, but nobody else at the company is experienced with them.
  • I probably could not be replaced for less than 150% of my salary.
  • I'm mentally and financially prepared to be let go immediately.
  • I like my employer personally and I have a personal interest in seeing "my" project completed.
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    Be prepared for management simply to call down to HR and ask for an escort for you. – Joel Etherton Mar 3 '16 at 19:39
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    It would be unprofessional to issue an ultimatum to your employer. – Myles Mar 3 '16 at 20:20
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    A carrot, yes. You need a much more professional vegetable, such as an endive. – Old_Lamplighter Mar 3 '16 at 20:31
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    Why the negotiation? Here is my notice of X weeks. – paparazzo Mar 3 '16 at 21:14
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    In general, if you are bothering to ask if something is ethical, it probably isn't... Or at least is something that will have unwanted repercussions, or that you will regret in retrospect. – keshlam Mar 3 '16 at 21:53

Yes, that is unprofessional.

It's unprofessional because that isn't a carrot, it's an ultimatum. There are very very few times I've seen an employee be successful making an ultimatum of any sort. The majority of the times I've witnessed someone try they were escorted out immediately. A few times it was as soon as it was more convenient for the employer.

If you want to handle this professionally then you should sit down with your direct manager and have a discussion. You need to state that you really need to focus exclusively on this project until it's done so that you can move off of it as quickly as possible.

If management is unable to work with you, then you find another job and quit ( in that order).

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    Weeeellll. it is an ultimatum. But when the ultimatum is "if you don't do what I want, I'm only going to give you two months notice" in a locale where two weeks notice would be the norm, it's not exactly a hostile ultimatum, is it? – Carson63000 Mar 3 '16 at 23:35
  • It's not that I need to focus on my part of the project; it's been my exclusive focus for the last year and a half. I need the back end developers to focus on their side of it. If they don't, there's approximately zero chance of the system being finished before I burn out. My direct manager happens to be one of the back end developers, and I have had this discussion with him more than once. I really want to see this thing finished because it would be the crown jewel of my resume, but if it's never going to be finished, maybe it's time to cut my losses. – The Merry Misanthrope Mar 4 '16 at 0:02
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    If your project is so dependent on someone else's work, how is this your crown jewel of your resume? – Nelson Mar 4 '16 at 7:24
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    @TheMerryMisanthrope: The "Crown Jewel" of your resume is your skill set and the lessons learned from your experiences. It's not whether a team project actually launched. We have all been part of failed projects so that shouldn't even be a consideration in whether you want to continue working there or not. – NotMe Mar 4 '16 at 15:00
  • @Nelson My project is a client that I would be proud to demo and proud to hand off to my eventual replacement. But I'm thinking I'll never be able to do either of those things because the server side is going nowhere. – The Merry Misanthrope Mar 4 '16 at 20:01

There's nothing wrong with hard line negotiations. Leaving on good terms afterwards is more problematic. But since you're prepared to leave, then by all means take the risk if you feel it's necessary.

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I think you would be better served to offer it as an option, rather than an ultimatum.

Consider something like the below, instead of how you had it in your question.

I've decided to move on to entrepreneurial and civic philanthropy projects, so please begin seeking someone to replace me no later than the end of April.

As I had expected Project X to transition from development to maintenance by the end of last year, I would be willing to delay my entrepreneurial ventures and civic philanthropy beyond the end of April in order to exclusively work on completing development of Project X, if that's desired.

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