My Skip boss asked me to take over a high-profile project from one of his peers. I am also in negotiations with another company for a new job. Do I tell skip boss the reasons for my reluctance to take over the project?

I am a contributing member of an important internal project that has organization-wide implications for process improvement and quality. The leader of this project is a peer of my skip boss, and both are very high up in the company (which is a small one). Yesterday my skip boss, on behalf of the CEO, asked me to take over the project's leadership and also offered some incentives to do so. (My boss is on vacation which is why he's not involved in the discussion). Skip boss wants an offer ASAP so they can remove the project from the current project leader's portfolio. The reasons why are not important, but they believe it will be more successful under my leadership, and I agree with them.

Unbeknownst to Skip boss, I just received a firm offer for a significant promotion at a different company in another state, and I'm negotiating the terms (mostly salary and relocation). If the other company meets my request even halfway, I'm taking it. There is no similar opportunity in my own company, because of its size and because the role is currently occupied by my boss, who is well regarded and isn't leaving any time soon. (he has been open with me about this as he knows I want to advance my career).

I don't want a counter offer from my company. But I also don't want to be a weasel. I like the current company, I evangelized the project and want it to be successful. I believe I would bring the project to a very successful conclusion but I am sensitive to how it will be perceived by the current project leader, and others in the org, if I take over. Not to mention if I accept the assignment, only to resign in a week, it could derail the project and leave a lot of bad feelings.

I expect that a revised offer won't come from the other company until the end of this week or even next, but skip boss wants an answer by tomorrow.

Should I tell skip boss the true reason for my hesitation? I don't want a counter, and I can't delay giving him an answer. Should I just not give him a reason for declining? Or give him a bogus reason? Or tell him I'm negotiating a new opportunity and just decline a counter if necessary?

TomW's picture
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Yes, I meant that to be in all caps. The first person you tell in your company should hear the words "I have accepted an offer...." Until then, you do not tell anyone in your company. At all, for any reason.

If you are so set on leaving, tell him no, If you don't leave this time, then you probably will for another company later.

robertwilliams's picture

What about telling your skip boss something like "For reasons I can't discuss right now, I can't give you an answer until X date"?  Of course contact the new company first to find out when you can count on getting an official updated offer.

I agree that it sounds like you won't be at your current company for much longer anyway, so accepting a leadership role is probably a mistake.

patrickscribner's picture

Until such time as you accept the new position you must continue to function within your current position in how the company sees fit.  If you can bring the project more success, in the 3 weeks that you're going to be giving notice in, you have the opportunity to get the project off to a great start and you'll be able to transition the project to another member of the team if you do end up leaving.