When you’re deciding to leave an employer, it’s customary to give 2 weeks notice as part of your resignation. The idea is that it gives the company enough time to transition the loose ends over to another employee.
Really though, in many places, that’s not a lot of time. If you’re in a very complex position or a company that’s project-oriented for instance, 2 weeks notice is barely enough to get the ball rolling. And it’s likely to leave a lot of unanswered questions.
The problem is that some employers take someone leaving as personal – a slap in the face. And because of that, if you give them more notice, it’s possible they just let you go before you planned to leave. That could leave you with no income until you start your next job.
So if 2 weeks notice is not enough and more could get you a boot in the butt, what’s the right answer? Tough question!
My last day of work will be 12/31/18. And instead of waiting, I gave my boss formal notice last week.
So why the heck did I just give my boss six months notice that I’m leaving?
Why not just give 2 weeks notice?
I remember my interview with my boss 19 years ago. I was still in college and had just changed my major from Studio Art to Computer Information Systems (yeah, I was an art major!).
I also had zero experience with supporting servers, networks, or computers in general. Here’s how some of the interview went down…
And… boom – that was it. I became a Systems Engineer almost two decades ago and then became the manager of the engineers 13 years ago.
My boss gave me a shot from the start with no experience. It’s hard to say that I would be in the same position I am today without that opportunity.
My appreciation for what he’s done for me has never gone unnoticed. I’ve worked hard for him from day one and plan to leave on a good note as well.
But Jim, they might decide to let you go today!
Um, yeah, I guess that’s true. Crap.
Just kidding. Sure, of course, they could just cut the cord and give me the boot today!
Will it happen though? I actually think that’s pretty unlikely.
I would hope that after 19 years, we have a strong enough relationship that he wouldn’t want to burn that bridge. I also believe that he’s appreciative that I went with 6 months versus a measly 2 weeks notice to pass the torch.
Plus, I’m sure they wouldn’t want to give me the ax and then have me go down the unemployment benefits route. It’s not because they would be paying me directly, but there are reasons why an employer doesn’t want employees drawing unemployment:
- It affects their state unemployment tax rate.
- There’s a chance of the employee considering filing suit for discrimination or wrongful discharge.
Honestly, things are very good between my boss, HR, and me. I don’t anticipate that we’d go down the wrong path together.
But if things did go sour and I was shown the door, it’d be Ok. We’d be just fine financially. We might have to adjust some minor things in our plan before we move to Panama, but money-wise, it shouldn’t cause us too big of disruption.
And then there’s this…
My position is unique
I’m not foolish enough to think that I’m not replaceable at my job. However, I do recognize that I’m in a unique position at the company I work for. It was actually created for me years ago and has grown steadily since.
If I left abruptly (i.e. with just 2 weeks notice), there’d definitely be some problems. No one in the company really knows the intricacies of what I do. Without my involvement, it’d be a rough ride for my successor and the company.
So I plan to make the next six months a chance to give my boss one last thank you by training my replacement to the best of my ability.
As a smaller company (around 40 employees), we don’t have enough documentation in place… systems, if you will. If I got hit by a bus tomorrow (not in my immediate plans), this would pose a problem.
So I’ve already started creating a framework of procedures to help prevent this. I went down this path long before I planned to give my notice, but it’s a tough battle. I want to have a digital binder that can be used for anyone to run things in my soon-to-be-former department.
My plan is not just to train my successor, but use this as an opportunity to solidify this documentation. It’ll, of course, be a living document with ongoing change, but it’s something that’s needed regardless.
We’ll call this my last opportunity to do good by my boss.
For many of you in a similar situation, this would be an excellent opportunity to leverage some of the techniques Sam Dogen talks about in his book “How to Engineer Your Layoff” for a severance. I outline the book in my post Get Paid to Get Laid Off – How to Engineer Your Layoff.
Let’s call it what it is…
In all reality, I’m not quitting my job to move on to another employer… I’m retiring.
And retiring is generally something an employee discloses much earlier to an employer. You’re getting older and people expect that the day will be coming sometime soon anyway.
2 weeks notice might be a nice gesture to your old employer when changing jobs, but it’s generally not the way to go if you’re retiring.
In the case of early retirement though, the line becomes a little grayer. Although in the personal finance community the number of people aiming for FIRE seems to be growing, it’s still only a sliver of society. Moreover, most folks, unfortunately, don’t realize that this is even a possibility anyway.
And that lack of realization is also the case for many employers. Because of that, hearing that an employee wants to leave in their 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s can definitely raise an eyebrow.
I’ll be 43 at the time I retire. That’s over 20 years earlier than the traditional retirement age. It’s hard for a lot of people to understand this.
That means many companies might not even believe that you’re retiring. They might think you’re moving onto another job or just taking a “mini-retirement” because they can’t grasp the whole idea.
That seems to be the case in my situation as well. Although I’ve talked to my boss about our plans months ago, I think he was taking it with a grain of salt… “Oh, there goes Jim coming up with another one of his wacky ideas.”
Although he never said that out loud, I could sense the “uh, yeah… sure” in the conversation.
So this time was a little different. Upping my date to the end of this year made this much more real for everyone.
The idea that we actually need to turn this around pretty quickly probably turned my boss’ stomach a little. Not that my replacement isn’t going to be good at the job (he’ll do fine), but rather that this will be a drastic change all around and big changes aren’t really my boss’s cup of tea.
I’m not so worried about it – I think everything will be all right for the company. 6 months is definitely much better than 2 weeks notice. It gives plenty of time for me to train my successor to ensure he understands enough to be successful.
The conversation went fine with my boss. I think he wanted to think more about it and just kept saying, “We’ll figure it out” as we talked. But now that he’s had a little bit to think about it, he’s already talked to the engineer he wants to promote to my position.
The question I now have is will my boss let me start training him soon or will he put this off for weeks or even months? That’s a concern.
Fortunately, it’s not my concern. I’ve done my due diligence by giving enough notice. At this point, the ball’s in his court.
Every company’s different and so is every job out there. In some positions, it might make sense to give 2 weeks notice – maybe even less depending on the circumstances. In others though, doing the right thing and not burning bridges might mean providing a longer duration before leaving.
I went with the latter and I think that should help smooth the ride as I exit and let someone else have the reins.
Think it’s a crazy idea to give an employer 6 months instead of just 2 weeks notice?
Thanks for reading!!