A bit of background. My brother co-founded a small software development company. I have been working with them off and on for four years while I completed my College Studies. After College I come on full time and have been working here nearly a year. The company is still very small (currently I am one of five people on staff).

Recently, I've received an offer from a larger company that has better benefits, pays 50% more to start, and better aligns with what I'd like to do with my degree (Computer Engineering). They also offer ongoing learning assistance. It is also located near my wife's hometown, which she has been longing to move back to. All around it is a better situation for my wife and daughter and I.

Now, I need to tell my brother, my boss, about this offer. I need to do this in a way that keeps our relationship intact. My family is very close and I don't want to ruin my relationship with my brother. Thankfully, he is usually a very reasonable person.

EDIT: Also, I should mention that due to the nature of this new position, it will not start for at least 3 to 6 months. Leaving adequate time to find and train a replacement.

  • How dependant is your brother on your working skill? are there others at your brother's company who have similar skills than you?
    – Migz
    Mar 1 '17 at 15:02
  • 1
    For the use case that the company needs, yes there are several others at the company (3 people) who could be doing what I do. Except for the issue of losing the capacity that I bring. I don't think it would be too difficult to replace what I currently do with new employees. Mar 1 '17 at 15:06

I think you should separate out two transactions.

The first is a family discussion, preferably not at the workplace, in which you explain the situation much as you did in the question, to your brother as a brother. If you can allow extra time, that conversation can take place before your notice period. I would emphasize the career path and wish to move, rather than the salary gain. You don't want it to look as though you are trying to push for more money.

The second is your resignation, delivered in writing to your boss. It will not come as a surprise because of the prior family discussion.

  • 2
    +1 for "emphasize the career path and wish to move, rather than the salary gain." Mar 1 '17 at 18:02

If your brother is a reasonable person you should treat your resignation like you would from any job. A reasonable person understands there is a separation between personal and professional relationships.

Offer your contractual notice period as your brother might not be able to afford to bring someone on board for six months in addition to paying you. You would be putting him in a difficult position if he had to let you go before your job started as you gave him excessive notice.

He might not be happy to lose you but as your brother he should understand the needs of your career and this isn't a personal situation.

  • I agree with the straightforwardness of this answer. But I am inclined to give more than two weeks notice. Because of the nature of our pipeline of work on our small team, only two weeks of notice would leave the company scrambling to try and fulfill the projects I would be in the midst of handling. Mar 1 '17 at 16:41
  • 1
    Why would he brother bring someone on immediately if he gave a 6 monteh notice?
    – paparazzo
    Mar 1 '17 at 17:24
  • @Paparazzi, if the brother found someone great a week or two after OP turned in a 6 month notice, and if the brother was worried he wouldn't find another really great potential employee, he might want to bring that person on immediately. That puts him in a bind.
    – mikeazo
    Mar 1 '17 at 18:16
  • @mikeazo That is a stretch that the brother would start looking immediately, find someone immediately, conclude he must take the person because another might not come along, and put his brother on the street.
    – paparazzo
    Mar 1 '17 at 18:19
  • 1
    ... and on the flip side, there's the chance that that if you resign now, you brother will be down one employee until he finds a replacement in 6 months time. You can't predict the future either way. But if you communicate you allow your brother to make a well-informed decision.
    – MSalters
    Mar 1 '17 at 21:06

How should I tell my brother, my current employer, that I accepted an offer for a new, higher paying position?

He's your brother, he's reasonable and you are close. Hopefully, you already know how to talk with him.

You believe that this won't be a significant negative impact on his business, so just talk.

A discussion based around something like "Brother, this is something I need to do, and I wanted to give you enough time to find and train a replacement." will probably work.


In general I agree with Patricia Shanahan's answer to do it in two separate steps, but with one important extra piece of advice. The first time you meet him, don't tell him you've already accepted the other offer.

If I was your brother, the thing that I would dislike the most about this wouldn't really be the decision to leave and to "betray" him and his company, but rather the fact that it comes out of the blue. One day you are working for him as you've always been doing, and on the following day you are leaving? Now this is something that would irritate me.

Since you two have a very close personal relationship, and since you both care about it, in your place I would have informed him about the offer before accepting it, discussing it with him, explaining why it is interesting for you (and if you think money is too "vulgar" as a reason, concentrate on the other things, especially those your brother can't really make a counter-proposal about, like your wife's desire to move there), and even looking for advice. Now it's too late for doing this, but you can still make it look like it. So, tell him you've just got an offer and that you are considering that option.

Do state openly that you are kinda torn apart: on the one side there's him, on the other one there's this offer which really looks interesting. By the way, did the other company contact you on their initiative (e.g. they got your name through your university), or did you actively apply for that job? In any case I'd tell him the former. Look, it isn't my fault, it's them who sent me this offer, and now I'm tempted!

If your brother is the reasonable person you say he is, realizing how much better this offer is for you, he might even end up encouraging you to take it ("I'd be sorry if you left, and even more if you moved to another town, but hey, this really looks like a great opportunity for you, and it'd be a shame if you missed it!"). Or he might not, and he might try to keep you there. Then you can tell him that you don't know what to do and you need some time to think about it. In that case, wait a couple of days and tell him you've decided to accept the offer. Even if he isn't happy with this decision, at least it won't come as a complete surprise.

I realize lying to one's brother isn't a nice thing, but considering it would be a way to try avoiding some friction in what is a delicate situation, it's what I'd call an innocent lie, and I don't think it would be so bad.

  • 4
    I strongly disagree with this answer. Lying tends to have long term consequences, and once discovered can destroy relationships. In a family, it is going to be found out, even if the brother does not immediately realize the OP is lying. Is the OP's daughter going to be asked to lie to her uncle? Presumably, there is a real reason why the OP did not tell the brother earlier. It may be as silly as "I didn't want to jinx it by saying anything until it was definite.". Whatever the real reason, it will be consistent with the OP's character and relationship with the brother. Mar 1 '17 at 19:42
  • 1
    I feel particularly strongly about this because I recently found out I had been lied to in a business transaction. Because of the lie, I misled other people, and I put a lot of time and effort into solving the wrong problem. If the OP makes it look as though the decision has not been made, the brother may waste time trying to change the OP's mind, and will resent that later. Mar 1 '17 at 20:56
  • 3
    Lying almost always bites you.
    – Neo
    Mar 1 '17 at 21:54

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .