I’m afraid the CEO will suck me back in when I try to resign — Ask a Manager

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

I ended up getting a job offer from the competitor, but turned it down. They seemed just as hectic and missing work/life balance like the current job, so I figured I’d stay with the dysfunction I knew rather than throwing myself into new dysfunction. The competitor also wasn’t going to offer a salary to make the new dysfunction worth it.

At the end of August I was contacted by a former colleague, “Dave,” and was asked if I was interested in a position at the new company he was working at. I went for an interview, and then was given an offer that would involve a much shorter commute, and 33% salary increase. It seemed like a good match for my skills and good group of people. The new company is in the same industry but not the exact angle as the old one (think teapot painting vs teapot molding) so I’ll get to learn something new. I got an official offer letter on Tuesday, and decided to accept and tell the current job I was resigning at the end of the week.

I was working out of a field office, and on Wednesday morning I was asked to come into the main office that afternoon to meet with my manager about an upcoming project. Since I wasn’t intending to stay for the upcoming project, and I would be face to face with my manager, Wednesday quickly turned into the day to tell the news! I reread your advice, drove the hour to the main office, prepped in the car, and headed in to my meeting. I decided before going in that I didn’t want to be talked into staying. I told my manager “Matt” that I was resigning, and he was surprised. Matt asked me where I was going, and what they were offering me – I told him, figuring I knew I wasn’t staying but maybe it would help them with some market research and push them to better compensate my soon-to-be-former coworkers. He asked why I was leaving, and told him that I appreciated working with him and I learned a lot, but the 1 hr+ commute was getting to me and it was time for me to expand my horizons. Matt kept asking variations on “well what if we made you a higher counter-offer?”, but tellingly never addressed the commute, work/life balance, etc. I kept answering with that I had already made a decision that was best for me, and I’d accepted the new offer but will work hard to transition in the next two weeks. My manager Matt called the CEO “Mike” into his office, and we had the same conversation again. Mike the CEO did eventually end it by telling Matt to stop with the what-ifs, and wished me luck going forward. And that I thought was that.

The first week of my notice period, my manager Matt asked me to continue to work on the upcoming project without someone to transition it to, rather than wrapping up a project that I was working on that was ending. That didn’t make sense to me, and I discussed that with Matt, but hey, I’m not the boss.

Then at the end of the week, the CEO Mike asked to take me out to breakfast and billed it as an exit interview. I couldn’t really say no. We got to the restaurant, and Mike starts launching in about why I should stay! He told me realized they made a mistake, they were going to change this, that, and the other thing, he had a whole 5 year plan to make everything better, and on and on. Mike said that he had asked me to keep working on the upcoming project during my notice period because he was so sure he could convince me to stay! Based on how previous promises were not fulfilled, I didn’t really believe what he was promising now. He told me “this family is like a company and I’m just trying to look out for what’s best for you,” which we all know is a great sign. He was also trying to convince me that it really was no big deal if I turned down the new offer after already accepting and setting a start date. I had no intention of changing my mind and staying, but I listened politely and told Mike I’d think over what he said. When I got back to the office, I discussed what happened at breakfast with a coworker who had worked with Mike for a long time. She suggested that I wait until Monday to tell Mike that no, I’m really leaving, so that it looked like I “thought hard about it over the weekend” so to save face a bit for him.

So Monday morning, I went and talked to Mike, and told him again that I was really leaving. He seemed to accept it this time, and again wished me luck. And this time I really thought that was that …. BUT!

Monday afternoon we held a retirement party at a restaurant for a long time coworker. Dave, the former coworker who recruited me to the new company, was invited. I noticed Dave walk in to the party, and walk out not that long after, but I didn’t really think about it. Dave called me later that afternoon to tell me what happened. Dave walked into the party, and Mike made a beeline to him. Without any small talk, and in front of a bunch of people, Mike berated Dave about “how could you steal [me, the letter writer] away!” and how horrible he was. Dave got himself out of that conversation, and decided he wasn’t going to stay at the party to be talked to like that and left (and I don’t blame him!). Dave had still been doing a lot of favors for Mike and others at the old job, and now is less willing. So turns out I’m not really the one who has to worry about burning bridges….

I’ve been at the new company for about a month now. I’m still working on learning the ropes, but I’ve gotten good feedback so far and think I’ll get the hang of it! It was a lot of drama, but I made the right choice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *