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Old 01-23-2011, 04:35 PM   #1
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'Ask' or 'Tell' - plus another Question

In 27 months, I will turn 55 on Wednesday, April 24, 2013. I plan to ER on Friday, April 26, 2013 to avoid any penalties for accessing my TIAA-CREF retirement funds before age 55.

1. If all goes well between now and then, I plan on informing my supervisor on February 1, 2013 of my intention to ER. Is it acceptable to announce my intention in the form of a written statement; as opposed to first 'asking' for permission to leave their employ on April 26?

2. The only benefit I'll get from my current employer (and it's not insignificant) is that they'll pay for half my health insurance until age 65. It's also important to TIAA that I do not 'separate from service' until age 55. So...Am I a fool, or is it ill-advised, to announce my intention prior to me actually reaching the age of 55?

I'm trying to do the right thing in giving my employer sufficient notice. I've been with the organization for 32 years. And while by no means am I high in the organization's hierarchy; I do have tons of experience in a position and department that is very important to the overall health of the organization. Also, while I have been with them 32 years and break in a new boss on average every 3-5 years, I certainly appreciate the fact that no one is indispensable. Also, the organization's mission is Christian-based so I would hope that everything would unfold without any surprises if I announce prior to 55. Still, I don't want to screw this up after w*rking so hard to reach my goal of ER. Should I just suck it up and wait until after April 24, 2013 to put things in motion?

Thanks for any insight.
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Old 01-23-2011, 04:52 PM   #2
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I basically announced my retirement years in advance. I wrote about it on this thread: Upcoming performance review... truth or consequences?

I think most folks said, don't reveal your hand early. For me, it has worked out well. I began part-time work as planned and still work part-time.
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Old 01-23-2011, 05:07 PM   #3
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I only announced after I was offered another position with 2 months to go before ER. I felt like I owed the company that much. I actually had to stay on longer, because of a COBRA switch.
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Old 01-23-2011, 05:10 PM   #4
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I don't see any upside to you for announcing early. So I suggest to wait.
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Old 01-23-2011, 05:20 PM   #5
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But if I don't announce 'early', then I'm looking at giving them 2 days notice.
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Old 01-23-2011, 05:43 PM   #6
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I gave 2 weeks notice, in retrospect should have gone in on Friday morning, hand in resignation effective immediately, then walk out the door.

I've been retired 4+ years. +1 to GregLee's comment.
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Old 01-23-2011, 05:52 PM   #7
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I agree that in your shoes, I would give my notice on my 55th birthday, then go around grinning like a maniac for the next couple of weeks.
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Old 01-23-2011, 05:53 PM   #8
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27 months is a long time. A lot can happen, and your plans could change. I wouldn't tell them until you get much closer to the date, not 2 days, but maybe a few weeks or a couple of months. If you tell them now, you will be treated as a "lame duck" for the next two years.
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Old 01-23-2011, 06:04 PM   #9
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I just advised my immediate supervisor last Thursday that I intend to separate on July 1 (one month after my 55th birthday). That's five months notice. I agree there's no benefit to me to reveal early. I have a lot of arcane knowledge that needs time to be brain-dumped. I've been treated well for 31 years so I figure I owe them that courtesy.

Hope I made the right decision. The only downside I can see is the remote possibility that they would have incentivized me retire if they didn't know I was going to anyway.
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:14 PM   #10
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27 months is a long time. A lot can happen, and your plans could change. I wouldn't tell them until you get much closer to the date, not 2 days, but maybe a few weeks or a couple of months. If you tell them now, you will be treated as a "lame duck" for the next two years.
I believe she's indicated she would give them just under three month's notice. Seems reasonable to me after putting in 32 years with them.
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:34 PM   #11
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While it's commendable that you want to 'treat your employer right' for them employing you for all these decades, consider the flip side: if you were laid off suddendly, would they give you any severance? I'm guessing, probably not, even though you've been a faithful employee for all those years.

If they don't care enough to give you severance, why give them a courtesy of a 1 year+ heads-up? As others have said, you have many months to go, and many things can change between now and then. what if a part of your portfolio tanks and you have to work an extra 2 years, but they already found a replacement?

Even giving just 1 month advance notice isn't out of line (IMO) - there will be people that will apply and interview for your position in short order.
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:48 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by LauAnn View Post
1. If all goes well between now and then, I plan on informing my supervisor on February 1, 2013 of my intention to ER. Is it acceptable to announce my intention in the form of a written statement; as opposed to first 'asking' for permission to leave their employ on April 26?
You do not need permission to leave a job. In fact, in my state, one is not -- at least from a legal point of view -- required to even have a reason or provide any notice. Of course a reasonable notice is considered courteous and professional. But the notice can be an informational notice and need not be a request.

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Old 01-23-2011, 08:15 PM   #13
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If it is truly significant that you separate from service after age 55 then I wouldn't tell them until you turn 55. I would give them 2 weeks notice at that point which would mean you work slightly longer than you planned. You could offer to leave earlier than the 2 weeks and see if they take you up on it.

Just last year I was in the position to tell someone I had worked with for 30 years that I was leaving. For planning reasons I gave notice 3 months before I was to leave. I felt it was the right thing to do in my situation. But there was no crucial downside to me doing it in my situation. (As it turned out, he talked me into staying and working a little on a very part time basis). However, your situation sounds different and I would not tell my supervisor before turning 55.
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:29 PM   #14
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Thanks everyone. Just to clarify, I wasn't planning on giving 27 months notice, just a little under 3 months. I was more concerned that I would be giving notice before actually turning 55 and thus giving my employer a chance to find some obscure reason why they didn't want me to hang around (i.e. fire) me beforel my 55 birthday -- thus causing me to lose out on them paying half my health insurance premium and messing up my 'separation of service' requirement with TIAA-CREF.

I don't really think they would take this route as I've had nothing but favorable performance reviews, etc. But I just wanted to see if anyone felt I might be shooting myself in the foot.

For my own peace of mind, I'll probably end up toughing it out until my actual birthday and then giving notice. If that's the case, however, it would makes sense for me to hang around to July 2 at which point they'll owe me 4 more weeks of vacation pay once the new fiscal year is underway. If they bark at that plan, 1 week of notice sounds good enough. I guess it will come down to how comfortable they are with having me leave.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:05 PM   #15
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I essentially gave my megacorp 4 yrs. After two of those years passed, the CEO asked if there wasn't anything he could do to get me to extend. We agreed on a compromise. I will slow down and commute twice a month to Asia and fly to Europe once a quarter or so, being on email and available by phone as needed other times, instead of living here and regularly putting in 60++ hour weeks. That will be in 23 months. The slower pace will last between 1-3 years, probably. We'll get that agreed and in writing sometime next year, but it was so important to the CEO to do this that he asked the Chairman talk with me about it as well.

LauAnn, in your case, I guess you need to ask yourself (and give yourself the most honest answer you can) whether or not you are indispensable enough or not that you could give notice earlier than your 55th birthday. If you can, more power to you. If not, I say wait until your birthday and give your two weeks. Or, give 3 months notice on your birthday, and collect the extra 4 weeks vacation pay. In my opinion, only you can answer this question.

You also mentioned that this is a Christian based organization. You may also want to think of what will happen if you give two days or two weeks notice. Will they be able to continue their mission appropriately without you? If not, how does that fit or conflict with your own values? As an example, in my case, the reason I started talking about this with my boss was that I wanted to make sure the handover was smooth. I wanted to be able to hire and train the right person. (I started here in 1985...there were 3 of us, and no sales. Now, I have a staff of 3,000 and revenue of over $2B...it's kind of like my baby. I wouldn't want to just toss it into the wind). This is of great value to me. I know that how I handle the handover will be remembered for a very long time, by a lot of people. I agreed to the above, as it seems to me, my CEO, and our Chairman, to be the best way to ensure a smooth transition, with the least disruption to the business, although I really did have my sights on retiring by the end of next year.

Anyway, this is just some food for thought. I hope it helps.

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Old 01-23-2011, 10:08 PM   #16
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it would makes sense for me to hang around to July 2 at which point...
...at which point you may be ready to leave a few packs of lit firecrackers in the lobby on your way out the door! Lots of things can change in three years.

My megacorp made a big deal of "succession planning" a few years ago. Some of it was typical HR fad-of-the-month, but consider the concept in your situation. With 2+ years to go, and your desire to minimize the workplace disruption when you leave, there are few negatives to mentoring one or more co-workers as potential successors. Particularly as your get within the last 6 months or so of your date.

Done right, with a greater frequency of tips as opportunities present themselves and big doses of "here's how I do it" before your vacations, no one will be the wiser.

Giving your notice could then go something like this "Well, Mr. Boss, I appreciate your kind words and your offer to let me slave away stay for another two months, but I've worked hard to train Jane to step right in without missing a beat."
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:22 PM   #17
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I'd give two weeks notice the day after I turned 55, but I'd offer to stay a little longer if they needed me...or to leave today if they didn't. I was asked to stay until the end of the year to complete the contract I was working on, and I did.
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:19 PM   #18
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We've had at least two ERs on this board who were glad they stayed quiet.

One (was it MB?) was planning on announcing his two-week notice to ER. Shortly before he would've shown his cards, he was called into the boss' office and laid off with a very generous severance. He even got to keep his company laptop. It was a great catapult shot to launch his ER.

Another poster stayed quiet about his plans. Several months before his self-imposed deadline he got wind of layoff plans. He quietly let it be known to his (friendly, trusted) boss that he wouldn't mind volunteering for the first layoff, which was duly arranged to the applause of his grateful co-workers.

We've had several ERs who've announced their plans far in advance, primarily for the purposes of identifying & training their reliefs. In almost every case corporate couldn't figure out how to do either task until well after the ER had left the building. In some cases they were calling them up months later begging them to return on a consulting basis to do the turnover they'd offered to do while they were still employed.

So despite your longevity, perhaps it's best to behave as though you owe these people nothing and as if they've forgotten that you might need a backup. A month or two before your escape it might be worth showing a trusted friend where to find the files and your procedures handbook... but if the boss doesn't have a succession plan then neither should you.
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Old 01-24-2011, 07:08 AM   #19
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........... A month or two before your escape it might be worth showing a trusted friend where to find the files and your procedures handbook... but if the boss doesn't have a succession plan then neither should you.
Good post. From observing corporate culture and from my own retirement experience, I can say that most of us greatly overestimate how hard it is to replace ourselves. All those files and notebooks we carefully assemble throughout our careers usually end up on a shelf unread or in a dumpster. Electronic files go with the next computer replacement sequence. I've been the guy loading the dumpster on more than one occasion.

Also, the sooner you announce, the sooner others just start dealing with your anticipated replacement for their own long term convenience.....which can be a good thing or make your last days boring as hell.
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Old 01-24-2011, 07:28 AM   #20
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Of you trust your company to boot you out before you hit 55, then a reasonable notice and out on your time frame is fine. If you are worried about this at all, then stay quiet until you are 55.

MY DH is leaving with his last day on his 55th birthday in April. He has shared this with his employer of 32 years. He is a union contractor, and needs just a few hours yet in a slow economy to get his last pension credit. His employer is a great person, and promised to work with him to assure he gets this- and had done so. That said, it for some reason, this fell through, we would still be OK, which made the "telling" eaiser.
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