Short and sweet version.

1.  In 2 weeks I will be the ONLY Web Developer at my company (300+ employees - Newspaper)

2.  We created an amazing system which management never gave us time to document.

3.  I have decided to leave the company as well since they refuse to pay anywhere near the average for the area (we get 40k-50k a year LESS than what is the average, and we are way beyond average).

4.  Without us they are left totally in the dark with this system and NO help.

Q.1 - How do I handle the obvious anger which will well up if they get desperate and offer me the pay range which is average and they should have done in the first place?  No way I'm staying.  I am frustrated and fed up with it all, so I have to really bite my lip.

Q.2 - When I am gone (likely very soon) how should the other Web Dev and I handle it when the company calls us up and pleads for help?  

We obviously charge them for contract work at that point, if we even do help.  But what if we just don't want to?  Kind of a "sorry - should have paid us a fair wage before and you wouldn't be having this problem, I'm busy with other things now."

Yet, I would greatly appreciate any future references (which would be amazing) provided we help.  Sort of a darned if you do and darned if you don't situation.

Almost an unsaid blackmail thing.  Help or you'll get a bad reference next time a future employer calls sorta thing.  God forbid we charge a fair contract wage, else we a bleeding them dry and goodbye reference. 

What to do... any advice?

Sleeping Fine in Seattle



TNoxtort's picture

 I think the feelings you have happen more often than you think. I once left a job and was the only person. I also thought they would be angry. Instead, they congratulated me and never asked me for any work after that. It was all in my head.

So first, make sure you listen to the How to Resign podcast. If you get time, read the classic book on assertiveness, When I Say No, I Feel Guilty by Manuel J. Smith.

You want to emphasize that your reason for leaving is that you have a better opportunity. Nothing against the employer. That's for them to figure out. Even if they offer you more money, you use the "broken record" tactic from When I Say No I Feel Guilty and tell them you have a better opportunity, without going into a lot of details. Though i really doubt they'll push you. 

If they ask you for help, go above and beyond up until your last day. Let them know that after that, your first priority is to get into your new role. If they continue to ask, invite them to propose something, but tell them you won't be able to get back to them until afterwards. Note that Mike and Mark recommend, I think, a 4 week notice, not 2 weeks..

Regarding reference, my experience is that most companies will only verify the obvious things - dates of employment, etc. Hopefully you have friends at the company, managers that have resigned, coworkers that have resigned, that can be references for you.

I want to add one other thing, which Mark and Mike say in their How to Resign podcast, but which I just read in another book called "What's Next for Gen X?" When you leave a job and start a job, the focus should be on the employer and colleagues in a "What do you need?" and "How can i help? sort of way. Once you have put in your resignation is NOT a time to talk about what you want - but hold to the boundary I state above of not committing to anything after your last day. 

Several colleagues at my company have left recently. One made it absolutely clear to everyone he was upset we didn't get raises, and that he didn't like his boss. While his behavior benefits me (since they promoted several people right after he resigned and I don't like his boss either) his reputation will forever be harmed.

flexiblefine's picture

I'm a web developer, and I have been in that exact same situation -- one-man team ready to move on to an obvious big raise. (At that job, my boss actually agreed that I could get a 50% raise moving somewhere else, but his hands were tied.)

First, the Manager Tools recommendation: Listen to the "How to Resign" podcasts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. The recommendation is to give more than two weeks' notice (I think they suggest at least four), and to spend time setting up transition materials and guidance before you resign.

When the time comes, you can deliver the transition stuff and keep your boss and organization from feeling like you just blew a big hole in their capabilities on purpose. You may not have the time to write all the technical documentation for your system than you might want, but you could write "how to" scripts to help people use the system, rather than maintain it. Yes, Mark and Mike recommend putting a lot of "extra" work into your job before you go in order to make the transition easier, but that will keep anyone from feeling justified in thinking of you as a saboteur.

I did some contract work for that previous employer, including a Saturday session showing my successor around the systems and tools he would use to make things happen. When I set my rate, I kept four things in mind: I was worth money because of my skills in general, I was worth more money because of my specialized knowledge of their systems, I was worth more money because I already had a full time job and was selling scarce "free" time, and I wanted to set my rate high enough to be a disincentive to them just keeping me on as a contractor. That's my personal experience, and not intended to be Manager-Tools-flavored advice of any kind -- I'm a high S, and I cared about not leaving them in the lurch.

Do not forget that there are people at your current job that can be useful parts of your network and/or the networks of other people you find in the future. If you handle your departure badly, it could come back to bite you later. Leave on the best terms you can.

To follow up on Art's "broken record" advice above, you might also want to listen to the "Handling Exit Interviews" podcast to get examples of what to say and what not to say. I think there is also advice in there about shutting down attempts to make a counter-offer.

Houston, Texas, USA
DiSC: 1476

melissas's picture

 I completely agree with flexiblefine's advice - and also, don't fool yourself into thinking they'll come crying after you're gone. Star players come and go, and business carries on throughout it all.

I suffered with not one, but three office bullies until i finally found a way out - despite being a star player reporting directly to the company president. I listened to the resignation podcasts *twice* and had to practice my resignation speech in order to deliver it without giggling (both out of glee and intense fear of his reaction ... I had a lot of emotional baggage)

Behaving professionally through the transition and after is worth it to keep your good relationships. As glad as I was to leave, I had to recognize that I would never have made it into this (much) better place without the opportunities given to me by my last employer. They let me learn on the job, they challenged me to grow and perform better every day. They allowed me to experiment and gain the experience of building great solutions for them. Without that, I would never be where I am now. Perhaps some of that may apply to you as well?

Definitely document as much as you can before you leave. Start now - even before you give notice. BUT recognize that the new people will want to do things their own way - and that's just fine, cuz you'll have your own work to worry about when you move on.

RichRuh's picture
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Also listen to the cast on how to do an exit interview.

The cast will basically recommend that you do NO VENTING WHATSOEVER.  I know that's counter to what you WANT to do, but it will keep relationships intact for the future.

And yes, you do want relationships intact.  You never know when you'll want a reference or job from a former co-worker.  You'll never go back to this company, but other people move too, and relationships extend beyond the company.  What if you are interviewing at company X, and the interviewer has a friend at your old company, calls them up and asks about you?


mtietel's picture
Training Badge

 Don't burn bridges.  You might think you live in a large metropolitan area, but you don't.  At least not one that's large enough to prevent unprofessional behavior from coming back to bite you.  Hard.

As an example, my metro area is similar in size to yours.  When I was consulting, I replaced the same guy at 2 different clients and was interviewed to replace him at a third.  Apparently he interviewed well, but couldn't find his way out of a wet paper bag with a sharp axe, among many other things...  To top it off, my consulting company almost hired him while the boss was on vacation (anyone read Lencioni's Four Obsessions?...); at least until someone noticed we'd worked at the same clients and called me for a reference.  I'd never met the guy, but had more than enough information to know we did NOT want to hire him.  Proof that the world is much smaller than you think...

I can see how you'd be concerned about them asking you for help after you've left.  I've worried about that in the past too.  I've had it happen only once.  I kept it professional and used the same consulting approach as FlexibleFine.  They chose not to go ahead with a consulting engagement and we still have a good relationship.

afmoffa's picture

I could be very wrong. This is the Internet, it's notorious for flattening the intended tone of even the most skilled writers. So I could be wrong.

WebdevSeattle, you sound pissed. it appears as if you have every right to be pissed, but please don't leave out of personal pique.

Leave because you want to do more and earn more, not because you want to leave your current employer in the lurch. Resist the temptation to cackle with glee or stew over hypothetical cases wherein they'll come crawling back to you. Companies aren't people. They don't have hearts to break. You can't hurt the company. But you can (inadvertently) hurt all the employees who will be pressed into service to right the ship once you leave.

Document what you can, resign with class and dispassionate professionalism, give them your very best effort right up until you walk out the door and start the next chapter in your life. Chances are the company will carry on, stumbling a bit, without you. If your bosses really are dense, they won't realize why things are so hard all of a sudden.

If I have misread your tone, please forgive me.