I'm working as a senior manager in a software business, and am part of a new management tier that has stabilized and put vision/structure back into what was a failing business.

However, the CEO is 'chancer' salesman type who loves to chase big 'dollar sign' squirrels down rabbit holes.  The latest escapade involves a deal made with a very large corporation for a service/product we don't have, completely outside of the our core product's USP's, and with impossible project deadlines.  Failure could easily kill the business, partly because of the reputational damage but also due to the loss of focus on existing customers, and a failure to pursue innovation with the core product.

I made my representations about the strategic risks but the debating is over and like all good managers you have to align around a decision.  When the project fails the outcomes are likely to be dire - shedding staff, and going back to a much reduced core operation.

Should I stay or jump ship?   I'm not normally a quitter, but I am sufficiently long in the tooth to recognize a suicide mission.

If I jump should I resign now or wait until I find another role?   As a senior manager I have a three month notice period which can a disincentive for new employers.   Also how should I explain this situation in new job interviews?






donm's picture
Training Badge

"When the project fails..."

"...impossible project deadlines"

"...failure to pursue innovation with the core product"

It seems to me you've quit already. I'm a "can-do" kind of a guy. Recently, my group was tasked with an impossible project with inadequate resources, unrealistic timeline, and mostly undefined goals. We jumped in with both feet, diverted resources, made our "best guess" on items with murky definitions, and followed through. Basically, it was "Keep going, no matter what."

We finished a bit behind schedule, and did quite a bit of finish work on site, but the customer was so "upset," they gave us the next system as well. We did the job as quickly and as well as humanly possible, and we documented everything we did every day, and showed where slow POs were also a big impact on the timeline, without making them "excuses."

I'd see your situation as a challenge my group would rise to, to prove we are the best at what we do. There's no way I'd quit before giving it my best shot.

I've found that most people live DOWN to management expectations, not UP to them. We always seem to expect too little. I consciously try to overload my people with impossible tasks. On some occasions, I apologize for giving them impossible goals they could not meet. Most of the time, though, I end up thanking them for pulling off the impossible tasks that weren't so impossible after all.

My advice would be to do the job, no matter what it takes, and if it fails, it wouldn't be due to lack of effort from my people.

davout's picture

I here what you say...   but there is a huge difference between 'stretch goal' and kamikaze mission. 

Also here in London I dealing wtih a creative 'milleneal' workforce that has completely different mind set to the Marine style 'charge that hill' approach you intimate. 

Anyhow thanks for the input. 

delete_account_per_reacher_145083_dtiller's picture
Training Badge

Dear Davout,

I echo the mindset and tactics of donm and am concerned about your classification of your team as milleneal.  As their manager you have a responsibility to coach them to behave in the manner that is best for your business to drive performance and results.

I feel your posts suggests you are resigned to defeat yet you have posted so I think you really are looking for help.

Do you have staff meetings that you provide the common direction and expectation of the team.  Do you do O3s and follow up individually with each direct to ensure they are on path and if not correct them.  Do you use Feedback to encourage the right future behaviour.

The satisfaction of bringing a team to be their best is highly rewarding and perhaps the best part of being a manager.  If you are looking to rubber stamp, then I say jump ship but to where I cannot possibly say.

Being a manager is hard but with MT tools you have help!

I wish you very good luck and please let us know what you decided to do.


John White's picture
Licensee Badge

I'm suspicious of the 100% can-do attitude. Taking an SMB off the core focus to chase a unique customer requirement is a classic mistake which results in a fragmented product. I think the much more realistic plan is:

1) Truly align behind the current leadership plan

2) Keep the network fresh

3) If your suspicions are correct and the product is impossible to deliver, get a head start on the job search

rickmonro's picture

Facing something similar myself in the coming weeks, would love to hear how things stand at the moment!