I had told my manager and his manager (my skip manager*) that I was quitting. I gave them a date and they told me to sit tight while they hash out the details with HR. I gave them a date 1 month out and described the work I intended to complete during that time. I was anxiously awaiting their verdict. I got the impression they might require that I leave immediately, which would incur a significant financial penalty to me due to the terms of the work contract.
Meanwhile, the team brain trust (my skip manager and a senior engineer) had been planning an all day team offsite to craft our road map (i.e. be told what we should do). This was to build hype for our technical challenges and build team cohesion. Also, there would be free lunch.
Timeline: I told my managers I was leaving on Friday. The team offsite was on the following Tuesday. We were asked for our lunch selection on the previous Wednesday.
Conversation 1: Direct Manager
Timeline: Monday, the day of nail-biting anxiety over whether I’d be asked to leave immediately
Manager: We had the discussion with Skip Manager and HR.
Manager: Well, you can leave whenever you want and you will keep getting paid until next month. You won’t have to pay back the $X for breaking the contract.
Me: That’s amazing! I didn’t even realize that was an option.
Manager: I was surprised to. About the offsite though: I think Skip Manager is going to talk to you and encourage you not to go.
Me: I guess that’s his decision but why? Wouldn’t that be unsettling to the rest of the team?
Manager: Well, he says it’s to give you an extra day off since you won’t be involved in it but it might be because he doesn’t want your interference. He’s very concerned about any morale impact it might have on the team.
Me: Okay… so, what is he going to tell the team? And wouldn’t be suddenly not being there be more of a morale impact?
Manager: We’re not going to tell the team you are leaving until next week so I don’t know what he’ll tell them.
Me: Overall this is good though that offsite thing is weird. Thank you for your help.
That went really well for the quitting part. I personally felt I would be able to help the junior engineers on my team with brainstorming during the offsite but it’s not my circus anymore. Still, Skip Manager’s choice seemed more morale damaging than having me there.
Conversation 2: Skip Manager
Timeline: Later Monday
Skip Manager: As you know, we’ve discussed your departure.
Me: Yes, Manager mentioned that.
Skip Manager: Glad to hear that. Anyway, about the offsite: why don’t you take that day off? It’s not going to be relevant for you after all.
Me: If you think that’s best. I would be happy to contribute my experience from past work or not if you’d prefer.
Skip Manager: Great, so what will you tell the team why you aren’t going?
Me: Um… I could say I’m sick?
Skip Manager: No, I don’t want you to lie.
Me: Er… okay… I have to go see the doctor and since I will have the time I can bump my appointment up.
Skip Manger: Great, go with that. Bye.
Recap: Skip Manager gives me less than 24 hours to come up with a reason why I suddenly can’t come to work tomorrow that isn’t a lie because he decided I shouldn’t go to his stupid planning party. Oh, and make sure it doesn’t give away that you’re leaving. And who’s going to eat my BLTA?
Conversation 3: The White Lie
Timeline: Tuesday, day of The Offsite
I just found out that there’s an opening at my podiatrist’s office tomorrow and I’ve been waiting a few weeks to see him. Since it’s midday and may take a while to do x-rays, I will have to miss the offsite. Have fun and I look forward to the great ideas coming out of it!
This wasn’t a complete lie since I did have to go to the podiatrist to get fitted for some foot related problem. They weren’t sure if they’d need to x-ray. It didn’t have to be Tuesday though. It also took 30 min. Still not a complete lie.
Conversation 4: Human Resources Lady
Timeline: The Friday after The Offsite
Me: Thank you for all your help with negotiating me leaving the company!
HR Lady: No problem, I was happy to help… by the way, how did the conversation go with your managers?
Me: Well, Manager was pretty clear about it and made sure I had some choice in when I left. I wanted to stay a bit to make sure I didn’t leave anyone with garbage to deal with.
HR Lady: Yes, he mentioned he expected that from you. What about Skip Mansger?
Me: Manager gave me a heads up but Skip Manager asked me not to go to a team offsite, which is fine, but I really didn’t like that he asked me to make up a reason the day before why I couldn’t go.
HR Lady: *tsk*, I told him I recommended he not do that. He asked you to come up with the reason? *shakes head*
Me: He also asked me not to lie and I managed to come up with something reasonably truthful but I didn’t like cleaning up his mess. Still, if that’s the worst of it, I’m happy with how this turned out.
HR Lady: I’m glad it worked out and feel free to reach out if you need anything.
Even HR thinks Skip Manager is a little crazy. That makes 3 of us (HR, Manager, and myself). By the way, I gave the HR Lady a gift basket to show my appreciation. I like to reinforce good behavior.
Things I didn’t do that were suggested:
- Instead of making up a white lie, tell my coworkers that I’m leaving and Skip Manager banned me from the offsite
- Send the “can’t make it” email but attend anyway
- Refuse to not attend
Since I had been generously offered pay without having to work, I considered being the scapegoat for Skip Manager’s convenience a fair trade-off.
What did I learn from this?
- Managers don’t have to listen to HR and HR gets irritated about that too
- Sometimes managers can’t find a good rationalization so they make you do it
- I will never know who got my BLTA
*A skip manager refers to your managers manager. Also known as: senior manager, grandfather manager