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This situation has already come and gone for me, but I'm looking for advice on how to handle it if it were to ever arise again.

I worked at a small company of around 25 people in which the CEO and CTO did not see eye-to-eye. This created a toxic workplace and I successfully found a position at a different company and put in my two weeks notice. So far, so good. However, as someone who worked directly under the CTO, I frequently had lunch with other employees who worked under the CTO. During one such lunch outing, my co-workers were discussing a plan on sabotaging the company's yearly user conference by vocally airing some of the CEO's dirty laundry at said conference. I wish that they hadn't done so in my presence, but as they did, I informed the CEO of this plan as it did not sit well with me at all and they wound up not being allowed at the conference. My last two days of employment were rather uncomfortable as a result.

My question is: Was my behavior here what you would expect from a professional? Should I have left it alone?

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    Some times in life you will suffer to matter what decision you make. The key is to understand when you can not change others and learn to just walk away. The mistake you made was thinking "not my problem anymore". It was never your problem. – user7360 Jan 27 '17 at 14:15
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    Can you clarify whether you were in the (senior) management structure at that company? That's an important distinction. – Lilienthal Jan 27 '17 at 15:58
  • @Lilienthal: Nope. It was my first job out of college and I was at the bottom of the totem pole. – R_Kapp Jan 27 '17 at 16:00
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    @MarkRogers: I was less concerned about getting in with my boss (I was quitting, after all) and more concerned that ignoring it would have made me feel like a jacka$$. – R_Kapp Jan 27 '17 at 16:10
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    One must make their own choices on moral issues. Right and wrong are not determined by the opinion of others or if it makes for an uncomfortable situation. I see no reason that intent to leave would have a bearing in my mind. Had notice not already been given, in my mind the entire incident might be enough to push a person into leaving as such an environment is indeed toxic, but no, I would not think that it makes it an easy out to say "not my problem anymore". – dlb Jan 27 '17 at 16:38
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In my book, you did the right thing. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation between the CEO and the CTO, sabotaging the company by bringing this up in front of customers, as your co-workers were planning to do, is incredibly, incredibly unprofessional. That said, I think your CEO should have given you more protection - leaving you with the same coworkers who you had just reported for unprofessional behaviour was leaving someone who had just done the company a big favour in a very nasty situation; giving you gardening leave for those last two days would have been the right thing to do.

On the other hand, I wouldn't blame anyone who didn't take any action in this situation - nobody wants to be in a situation where they're the "grass" on their coworkers, even if those coworkers were planning to behave awfully.

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I'd hire you on the spot, and if I didn't have a position open for you, I'd make one.

You acted in a highly ethical manner at personal cost for a company you no longer had any real reason to protect, being on your way out the door.

It was absolutely the right call and states volumes about your character, all of it good. Even though you only had two days left, you still took a risk.

Not just the right call, one that you should be proud of.

For future interviews, this would be a good thing to mention if asked about how you dealt with workplace conflict. The fact that you remained principled with only two days left will impress the interviewer.

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  • Absolutely. Someone who acts with integrity in the best interests of the company even at the expense of "getting along" is worth TEN 'regular' employees. Trust means everything. – Wesley Long Jan 28 '17 at 21:21
  • @SalvadorDali something someone would do, doesnt mean he actually is going to or ever will and yes I do think we could all learn from the OP, not just you. – Raoul Mensink Jan 30 '17 at 9:58
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    @WesleyLong a previous manager of mine would often say "I don't care if you're lacking some skills, I can send you to a class, but if you don't have integrity, there's nothing I can do. – Old_Lamplighter Jan 30 '17 at 15:21
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I am glad that you cut off this stupid/counterproductive/destructive idea at the pass. Your coworkers would have given the management including the CTO no choice but to fire them had your coworkers put their brain fart to execution.

Remember, the CTO is a sales person and along with the CEO, sells the company and its products and services to customers and to potential customers. The CTO is also to step up and keep the company going in the event that the CEO gets run over by a truck. Your co-workers may have only intended to damage the CEO but the entire company including the CTO and staff would have been collateral damage and the CTO's sales effort would have been trashed. At a user conference i.e. in the most public venue possible.

There is a time and a place for everything and whatever issues there are between the CTO and the CEO may call for an internal showdown. But a user conference is not the right time nor the right place nor are the CTO's staff the right people to participate in such a showdown. You don't blow up a place simply because you don't like a couple of people.

I am sorry about your last two days of work being uncomfortable and hopefully, you are none the worse for the wear and tear :)

I once resigned in disgust from a company where I hated the CEO for being an incompetent, bumbling fool after he trashed a $500000 sales effort of mine to a very receptive client - they loved the quality of the work we had just done for them - with a characteristically ill-timed, unsolicited intervention direct to the client where he showed his sleaze ball nature. It didn't help my attitude to the CEO that my effort was on the verge of success and would have been successful but for him. But I never said anything to trash the company and its staff to the client.

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    I strongly suspect the co-workers will have been fired anyway. – Philip Kendall Jan 27 '17 at 14:36
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    @PhilipKendall - you may very well be right about that. I can tell you that I wouldn't hire anyone who got fired for displaying such a lack of self control and poor professional judgement. At some point in our careers, we - or almost all of us - get to experience having to work with people we don't like. Staying professional under such a circumstance is a non-negotiable requirement. My rule is that you cannot inflict collateral damage simply based on your personal likes and dislikes. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jan 27 '17 at 14:41
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    @Paparazzi - So, what's your point? – Vietnhi Phuvan Jan 27 '17 at 17:35

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