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I handed in my notice this week and my boss has told me that he has not said anything to the team because he "knows that it is my personal business and is something that I need to do in my own time".

However, I don't think that it should have to be me to tell them - I would imagine that it is down to my boss to announce it rather than me.

Further to that, I actually don't want to tell anybody - I would rather just slip away quietly on my last day and leave it at that because I am not one for huge amounts of attention, plus I get the impression that people will view me in a more negative light for leaving.

Some might think that this is a duplicate of this post, but it is not as my scenario is the opposite - my boss wants me to tell my team whereas I don't want to.

  • 194
    Do your colleagues a favor, forget about yourself for 15-30 minutes (I am not one for huge amounts of attention), give them a hand and thank them for working together. – user8036 Aug 24 '16 at 12:19
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    Are your co-workers so horrible that you would really just ghost them? You do realize that you could never ask any of them to be a reference for future employment or work with them again since you'll always be the guy who just bailed on them. What will you do when one of your present co-workers is introduced as your new manager? – DLS3141 Aug 24 '16 at 13:57
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    I think the traditional way to quietly announce your departure is to mention your upcoming departure to the front-desk receptionist and say "don't tell anyone", and before you reach your desk the news will have spread across the company. – Johnny Aug 24 '16 at 16:02
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    Your field, job and role, as well as nature of your team would be rather important to this question. If you're one of a team of janitors, it's probably ok (just rude). If you're in a software development team with a specific area of responsibility nobody else is as familiar with, leaving like that without a warning would border on intentionally evil. – hyde Aug 27 '16 at 10:59
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    I don't get how this is even a question. Of course you should tell your colleagues that you're leaving. To leave out this detail is exceptionally inconsiderate, and for what? – Lightness Races with Monica Aug 28 '16 at 12:03

10 Answers 10

201

Do you have to? No. Should you? Yes.

Why?

Because it's not about you.

When you work with people, they do get used to you and they get emotionally attached. Giving people a chance to say goodbye is a kindness, it is also a good business/career move. You may or may not go back to that company, but if you do go back to work again, you may need references and you don't want to burn any bridges.

Just leaving without a word may offend certain people. People you might not think even care could turn out to be your strongest allies in the future. As @Dank said below, leaving without a word could get the rumor mill started. People tend to gossip, and they will fill in with fiction where they don't know fact.

If you want to avoid too much fuss, tell people on your last day and let them know what a pleasure it was to work with them.

Before you leave, send a group email saying that you will miss everyone and enjoyed your time with them. This will leave a fondness for you with your coworkers and it is the professional thing to do.

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    Not to mention leaving without a word is also a great way to get the rumor mill started. People who leave abruptly and without saying bye are typically doing so because the alternative is being fired. Legitimate or not, if people think you were "forced out" it could be bad for your reputation. – DanK Aug 24 '16 at 16:13
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    Definitely tell them, and as soon as possible if there's any kind of knowledge transfer that might need to happen. If you bail out without a word, and it turns out you know something nobody else does, the first time somebody needs that information... well, let's just say that if the bridges weren't burned before, they're ashes now. – senschen Aug 24 '16 at 17:18
  • What if you’re leaving for personal reasons that you really don’t want to discuss with your colleagues? Testicle cancer? Suicidal depression? Etc. – Proton8 May 16 at 23:55
111

The boss is being courteous in giving you the choice of when and how to announce this. If I were you, I'd appreciate that rather than complain about it.

If you prefer to have your boss announce this, ask him to do so.

But really, it shouldn't be a big deal either way. This is a fairly common occurrence. And it's going to become public knowledge anyway as soon as you start briefing whoever will be taking over your duties.

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    And colleagues would most definitely not like it if you "slip away quietly on my last day" without them knowing. Suddenly, the who-knows-what that you were working on needs to be continued and no one knows how it works. When I left my previous job, I updated documentation for things I made and talked with my colleagues to make sure they understood how it worked. We also just took an extended lunch break on my last day, so there doesn't need to be any extravagant exit. Your last day could just be "any other questions for me? No? So long and thanks for all the fish" and everyone moves on. – David Starkey Aug 24 '16 at 14:22
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    +1 particularly for "when and how" - not "if". Your manager probably (and reasonably) assumed that you would notify the team at some point, and is just letting you break the news on your own terms. – user812786 Aug 24 '16 at 16:06
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    @Starkey: "suddenly, the who-knows-what that you were working on needs to be continued and no one knows how it works" -- that's also a serious bus factor issue. But of course people respond differently to an impending disaster that happens by complete accident after negligent planning, and an impending disaster that happens because you intentionally did nothing to avoid it after negligent planning. – Steve Jessop Aug 25 '16 at 12:00
36

You don't say what industry you're in, but I can tell you right now, as a software engineer, this would be the worst way for a colleague of mine to leave. We have a very tight schedule, that we're nearly always behind on, and release dates that can't be shifted. The loss of an engineer with advanced notice causes my blood pressure to spike in panic, particularly since it can take months to replace them. When one of my coworkers left recently, he actually told me several months ahead of time, when he was just looking and hadn't told anyone else and I really appreciated that. It gives me a chance to re-plan, reset expectations, and run damage control.

If one day he had just said, "Oh, by the way, today's my last day," or, worse, one Monday morning our manager tells us, "So, John's not with the company anymore," well, John's never again getting hired at a company I work at for the rest of my life. As soon as I find out he's up for a position, I'll head straight to the hiring manager and tell them that John can't be relied upon, and has a history of disappearing without notice.

When you leave a company, you want to leave a good last impression for everyone. You never know when you'll be working with these people again, or who they'll talk to, and you don't want to be That Guy Who Mysteriously Disappears Without Notice.

20

Further to answers already here, it's a good idea to let people know, even if it's just your team so any tacit knowledge you have can be documented and/or passed over.

There may also be things you do either daily or weekly which they don't realise you do but if it's not done can cause issues, so they need to be handed over.

If you're not getting a direct replacement, any of your duties need to be passed out to other people or documented for when they need doing by whoever is available.

With all that in mind, just remember you don't have to tell them why you're leaving. They will undoubtedly ask, and it's difficult to avoid without being awkward, but there's no need for details to those who don't need to know.

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    Agreed. Moreover it's important to give people enough advance notice to make the handovers feasible. For a lot of jobs a day wouldn't be enough. – Willie Wheeler Aug 24 '16 at 23:19
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At some point, someone may have to tell some of your colleagues. For example, whoever is taking over your responsibilities will need to know so they can work with you to ensure a smooth handover. The person responsible for paying you each week will need to know also, so they can ensure you receive your final check, any other guaranteed compensation (e.g., can you cash out your PTO?), etc.

If you do not want anyone beyond those with a "need to know", let your boss know this. You don't have to tell anyone, but your boss may need to tell some people.

That said, depending on the work environment, once the "need to knows" know, everyone else will know. Then you will be getting even more attention. Everyone will be stopping by saying "I heard rumors that you are leaving, is that true?" So, if you are trying to minimize attention, I suggest just telling everyone. If you take it into your own hands, you can nip this in the bud.

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    Agreed on all points. Someone left my current workplace without telling anyone a couple years ago, and my coworkers still talk about it sometimes - not the best route if you're trying to avoid extra attention! – user812786 Aug 24 '16 at 16:14
9

There are professional and personal consequences you have to think about.

Professionally, the main thing is transfer of responsibilities. If you have no particular responsibilities, and are pretty much interchangeable with your colleagues, then there's nothing to do here. Some jobs are designed like that to allow for frequent staff turnover with minimal impact. Otherwise, this is your boss's responsibility to manage, but depending on your role you might be heavily involved in it or it might even be delegated to you. If you're telling people stuff about how to do your job when you're gone, you kind of have to let them know you're going in order to provide context for that.

From what you've said it seems like your boss is completely relaxed about this and foresees no problems. You might be inclined to follow that lead. However, maybe your boss is assuming you'll start telling people quite soon, and doesn't realise that your preference is not to do it at all. You should discuss this with your boss, because it's not clear whether "it is your personal business" is really intended to take precedence over "you need to do it". If you'd prefer for your boss (not you) to make an announcement at the latest possible time, then just ask.

Personally, there are likely to be people who'd prefer some sort of closure. If they know you're leaving they might stop by your desk to say goodbye, maybe exchange personal email addresses, or pay back the price of a coffee they borrowed from you 18 months ago when they forgot their wallet, never paid back, and would feel guilty about. Whatever's important to them. Furthermore, if you take a moment to say goodbye to them that's a social signal that they have meant something to you (perhaps not much, but more than nothing). So you can leave on better terms by giving people a short amount of time to do that -- perhaps a few days or even just a day, depending how easy it is to drop by and speak to you.

If your workplace is generally unpleasant, and you think it will be made even more so because your colleagues are horrible to people who are leaving, then they'll despise you whether you tell them or not, and perhaps you might as well sneak out. But if you're on good terms with them and just shy about big parties and rounds of applause, you can let them know you're going but privately ask your boss (who hopefully knows this about you already) to intercept anyone trying to organise farewell cakes/speeches/whatever. This will deal with most of the people who, as you've seen in other answers, will remain civil to you after you have left only if you go through certain routine pleasantries.

It's also worth bearing in mind that there are some (relatively few) workplaces where employees are walked out the door as soon as they hand in their notice. So the shock of a colleague leaving without notice clearly can be survived, but the difference from your POV between that situation and yours, is that in that situation everyone rightly puts it down to the employer's choice, and any ill-will falls on the employer. Whereas in your situation it's you who has chosen and they'll know it.

So no, you don't have to unless your boss instructs you to. Maybe not even then. Alternatives are that your boss does it instead of you, or that nobody does anything. Just be aware of the consequences when you decide.

6

As already said, it is recommended that you tell your co-workers you're leaving. They'll find out on the first day you don't show up to work anyway. While you may not care what they think and may not expect that to be a problem, you never know. I've had employers ask me about co-workers from previous jobs who had applied at my new(er) employer. So being the "person who just left, without saying good-bye" could come back to haunt you.

Also already noted, someone else will have to take over your work. Unless what you do is very simple, it may be necessary for you to update a co-worker on what you're working on, so they can take over more smoothly. While we don't know exactly what your boss said, he may be expecting you to initiate this; failure to do so could affect future references.

As for people thinking negatively about you: I've worked in places where the opposite has been true when I announced my departure. Sometimes I've found that people thought more highly of me than I realized. Other times I heard things like "You got a job at {insert perceived great workplace here}? So cool! I'd love to work there. If they have another opening, please let me know."

Also, there's the human factor - people will want to say their good-byes; if you just up and leave, they are more likely to think negatively about you than if you give them some advance warning.

  • Definitively it is not a good policy to let people know where you moving to. – Rui F Ribeiro Aug 25 '16 at 11:13
  • @RuiFRibeiro: In my experience, I've always been asked where I'm going when I submit a resignation. Not answering would be rude, as would an answer like "It's none of your business". Thus far, it's never hurt me, and - as I said in the answer - it seems to have impressed some people at times. – GreenMatt Aug 25 '16 at 13:15
  • It is a matter of politics...As they say in one of our sayings "Secrecy is the soul of the business" People can ask, you are not obliged to comply; you can always answer "As a matter of principle, I will tell you only after I am there"...we never know if politics, dynamics, power games, family or colleagues can somewhat "ruin" the business, and more so in a country where the business side is relatively small. – Rui F Ribeiro Aug 25 '16 at 14:02
  • The fun answer to "where are you going" when you resign is "no where". Being in the position to quit because you feel like it versus already having a job lined up gives you a great deal of power when negotiating current and future positions. – Matthew Whited Aug 26 '16 at 11:09
0

A viewpoint not mentioned yet:

I guess there is a reason why you are leaving. Whatever it may be, I guess you are assuming that leaving improves your overal situation. Either you will be working in a better place soon, or you at least will leave an abysmal place.

Either way: live is changing to the better for you! Rejoice! Let it be known far and wide that you are leaving, be happy about it. All pressure you felt in the old place has now fallen away from you. All problems the old place made you suffer through are gone. You don't need to rub it in everyones face or even tell them why exactly you are leaving (if it is a reason inside the company, they probably can take an educated guess anyways). You can always just answer "I felt that it was time for a change", which is probably a) true and sounds b) entrepeneurical. You certainly don't need to throw a party on your last day.

But unless you are the underdog in your current company and fear physical harm if/when you tell them, by all means do so.

-2

If you don't want to tell anyone I think that is your business.

I worked for a company where a guy left and we were not told.

As for negative light. Your colleagues would want to say good bye.

  • Someone where I work was suddenly "no longer working here" and no explanation was ever given. I have no idea if it was due to a personal matter, their own annoyance about something at work, a bad reaction, they did something wrong... etc. I liked that person although I was not close, and I don't know if they got cancer or blew their stack at the boss. Difficult to think about for a while afterwards. – user37746 Aug 26 '16 at 18:23
-2

It's like this. you need to read your work contract, you may need to handover your resignation letter to your hiring manager. Then you should wait the notice period, because there may be critical projects that may directly depend on your expertise and you may asked to do knowledge transfer to somebody else in that time.

Never ever try to write your letter of good bye or inform others that you are leaving company. Simply within the notice period your colleagues should NOT know about that you are going to leave. It's bad for their motivation and teamwork collaboration with you.

The right time for that letter is a one day before you end your notice period. They day that you collect your items to your cardboard box. Write a letter thanking about their teamwork, dedication and cooperation.

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    You don't think the colleagues would catch a hint if you suddenly start training them to take over your various responsibilities one by one? Of course, even if we assume that none of the colleagues tries to set up any appointments some weeks ahead that you have to decline somehow. – O. R. Mapper Aug 25 '16 at 6:39
  • Hint would be possible. But it's just a hint. Training and KT (knowledge transfer) is happening everytime in a company and that doesn't even due to a leave of an employee. To avoid knowledge boxing it's good if company could have 2 or 3 KTs per a month. For a example end of a release there are time. – sandun dhammika Aug 26 '16 at 8:13
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    Cross training is also common just to share knowledge and continuation. If something was to accidently happen or if someone schedule is over booked by other tasks it is handy to be able to off load/transfer tasks on short notice. – Matthew Whited Aug 26 '16 at 11:12

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