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How much notice did you (should I) give?
Old 05-16-2013, 09:58 PM   #1
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How much notice did you (should I) give?

Two questions:
1. How much notice did you give (before leaving work for retirement)?
2. How much notice do you think I should give?

Here's my situation, in a nutshell. I am vested in my pension, so I am not in danger of being cut to save the company expenses, if I give plenty of notice; I don't work for that cutthroat an outfit anyhow. I like my boss a good deal, and I don't want to hurt him or the company by leaving. I am not under delusions of being irreplaceable, but I do occupy a strange little niche in both within the company and within my profession, and I think it will be challenging to find a replacement. I am director of a small but important service within the company, and (apart from one other subordinate), I've been the only one doing this for 10 years, and stepping out is going to be a challenge to the company, in terms of recruiting and training a replacement. The subordinate can't step up, because he's 70, headed for retirement himself, and just not well suited. I don't want to "out" myself, but not many people in my profession want to do this particular work -- it is challenging and stressful (part of why I'm taking ER) -- nor do they have the personality or training for it. We have tried to hire people before to fill other subordinate slots, and it has been difficult.

My gut sense is, I need to give at least 6 months notice. Giving 30 or 90 days is just not going to be enough. It will put my boss and the company in a bad position. So I'm thinking 6 months, but I'm wondering if 9 or 12 months would be better.

I am 16 months from retirement now, so I'm trying to think this through. I figured I'd get some feedback. I don't have much experience in giving notice, at least not from an important position. The last job I gave notice at was assistant manager of a McDonalds, about 25 years ago.

I should mention, I'm not 100% certain I will retire in 16 months. Of course, I won't give notice until I'm 100% sure. I'm not going to give notice and then go, "Oh, I changed my mind."

So assuming I am 100% sure of retiring on a specific date, how much notice do you think I should give?
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Old 05-16-2013, 10:12 PM   #2
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I was an engineer and I gave 3 months notice. I didn't have the same replacement issue you have described. I think 6 months is appropriate. Especially, if you expect to be kept busy during the final months. Once you announce and they accept you will be in a very different relationship with your employer and colleagues. You want to make the process as pleasant as possible for both of you. However, if things don't well then you only have to endure the situation for 6 months or less.
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Old 05-16-2013, 10:25 PM   #3
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Since you like your boss and the company, consider integrating your "indication of possible departure" in concert with the submission and approval of the annual budget process. This will help with bringing someone on in time for you to transfer the intellectual capital before you go.
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Old 05-16-2013, 11:17 PM   #4
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I gave my boss one month notice before I left. But because I was working only 2 days a week I had only 10 working days left after I gave my notice. I was working on only one big project which I expected to get done before I left (which I finished about 45 minutes before I left on my last day). In the months before I left I had already been doing some transition work on my other, lesser projects I oversaw, so that stuff was also done by the time I left.

My relationship between my coworkers and me did not change much in that month because I was not around the office very much (2 days a week) so to go from 2 days to zero days a week was hardly a big shock to everyone else.
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Old 05-16-2013, 11:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ER Eddie View Post
My gut sense is, I need to give at least 6 months notice. Giving 30 or 90 days is just not going to be enough. It will put my boss and the company in a bad position. So I'm thinking 6 months, but I'm wondering if 9 or 12 months would be better.
In the business world, "excrement happens". It can't all be planned for. Most companies survive unexpected hits, and some unexpected hits can turn out to be a long-term plus after all. Other people step up to the plate, other flowers bloom.

What would happen to your boss and company if you were in a car accident on your way to work today, and killed? Or if you dropped dead at home of a heart attack over the weekend?

I realize that my comments here may make some uncomfortable, but I saw in companies that I have worked in of different sizes, the (unexpected) resilience of humans in times of adversity. There always seems to be at least a few who will step up to the plate, even with the count at two outs.
With the big tree's shadow gone, other trees will grow.

I would think that 30, maybe 60 days at the absolute most, is enough. A long goodbye is like you aren't leaving for a long time, they will worry about it later. 30 days is close enough to keep some heat on, without wearing out your "special status" as a soon to be retiree.

Let them decide how they will handle it. They will be handling it after you are gone anyway. Your sticking around a long time may also impede their ability to bring in another person from outside the company (2 on the payroll, instead of 1).

No personal disrespect intended
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Old 05-16-2013, 11:55 PM   #6
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Your 6 month offer is appropriate and generous. If you trust your manager you could aways crack the door open a little. "I'm starting to think about retirement, nothing immediate, but I'm starting to think about it. How much notice do you want, and what should we do to prepare my successor?"

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Old 05-17-2013, 07:08 AM   #7
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I am not under delusions of being irreplaceable, but I do occupy a strange little niche in both within the company and within my profession, and I think it will be challenging to find a replacement.
I was in a very similar situation when I retired last year. I gave 3 month’s notice which gave me (and them) enough time to train a replacement.
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Old 05-17-2013, 07:38 AM   #8
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I am beginning to contemplate the same question. I am an engineer in a bit of a niche myself, and replacing me won't be quick, but it certainly won't be impossible. There are other offices with engineers the same flavor as me, so they can always turn to them if needed.

But the question I keep asking myself is "how much notice would they give me in case of layoff?" I know the answer to that one - zero (but with two weeks' severance pay - maybe). They just kicked a designer to the curb who's been with the company (actually the predecessor company) since before the moon landing, which makes me feel about the same amount of loyalty to them.

But since it sounds like you enjoy a much better relationship with your employer than I, several months' notice seems appropriate to me. What I can't help with is how the relationship might change.
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Old 05-17-2013, 07:54 AM   #9
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Thanks for the input, folks. I thought initially that I might give more than 6 months notice, but I've changed my mind after the feedback. Six months is plenty. I might even give less than that, if circumstances change. As Telly said, excrement happens in business, and "other flowers will bloom" -- or get planted in the manure, anyhow.
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Old 05-17-2013, 08:58 AM   #10
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OK, let me throw in another data point. I gave my boss 4 years' notice. I had been sent to Japan to buy a company and merge it with our existing operation. I had lived in Japan before, and I was doing M&A work for megacorp. When the president of the Japan division retired a few months later, I took his job, and had been running the company nearly 10 years when I had this conversation with the global CEO. I had tripled the sales from $700M to 2.2B and profits were 10x the level when I arrived. And I did this in Japanese (I am American and not of Japanese origin). I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but when I told my boss that I would eventually need to go home and that we needed to work out a plan to do that, he knew he had a problem. In fact, we were doing so well that he had skipped our twice yearly operations reviews at least three times so he could deal with other problems, and he never even bothered to call me. If spoke to him once or twice a year, I knew that was about all the attention I or my operation was going to get. Anyway, we worked out a plan for me to stay 4 more years, with a sweetener at the end, should I complete the 4 year agreement. I completed my end of the bargain and I'm home now, and my replacement is at the helm. He does not have the skills that I have. He does have some that I did not/do not have. Hopefully he can take the company to new heights by capitalizing on those skills, and the team I put in place can maintain what they got from me.

The points: 1) maybe you can get a sweetener by speaking up a bit sooner and working a tiny bit longer, and 2) whoever replaces you won't have your skills. You have to accept that and let go. They will have whatever they have, and in some cases may actually have something to offer that will help take the corp to the next level.

For someone in your case, like mine, these decisions are never easy. I wish you the best of luck.

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Old 05-17-2013, 10:27 AM   #11
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I told everyone I was planning to have the option to retire early almost 20 years out. Over the past 5 years I became more specific on the possible exit year. In early January of this year I told my boss, his direct reports and my vice president that 2013 would be my last year with the company. Two days ago I nailed it down to the first week in Jan 2014 for my departure.
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Old 05-17-2013, 10:35 AM   #12
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It depends on your unique position, but most of us probably overestimate how much notice is needed. Two weeks is enough for some, months may be appropriate in some cases, even years in a few. I had planned on 3 weeks general notice, but gave my boss 3 months notice as courtesy. He insisted on 3 months notice for everyone, which proved to be an unnecessary mistake for most involved, but it's not important any more...
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Old 05-17-2013, 10:56 AM   #13
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Most of us probably overestimate how much notice is needed.
I don't think you appreciate how irreplaceable I am.

har. Actually, what will probably determine my length of notice will be my own indecisiveness. The more I thought about it, the less I could imagine giving 12 months notice, because I knew that over those 12 months, I would probably change my mind about ER half a dozen times. Anyone who follows the Class of 2014 thread has already seen me change my mind twice in the space of a month. And those are only the documented changes/flip-flops. There are plenty more happening in my head all the time ("one more year"?).

More notice = more time to doubt my decision and change my mind. So perhaps less than 6 months would be good, especially if I have any remaining doubt at that point.
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Old 05-17-2013, 11:49 AM   #14
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I don't think you appreciate how irreplaceable I am.
My company created a huge problem for itself over the past 15 years. They laid off about 90% of the full time development staff over a decade and did major out sourcing. This means we lost all the low level and mid level people that had a chance of becoming senior people. The out sourced contractors rotate every couple of years so they never develop beyond a certain point and most of them could care less whether the company survives or not. Minor efforts have begun to try and fix this by actually hiring a few people.

Right now, every time someone leaves, it hurts and makes the job more "exciting" for the few that remain. Everyone is covering so much you spend all your time fighting fires and training the next batch of contractors. Then you do your actual job in the gaps. I have 7 weeks of vacation a year. Last year, I worked at least part of half those days I was "out". Different story this year.

I used to feel guilty about leaving. Now some sadistic streak in me finds grim amusement in the fact that I will become part of the problem.
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:07 PM   #15
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I vote for Friday morning of your last day. And spend the rest of Friday in HR making out the papers.

IMHO, you do have a strange view of your importance. A company is a machine to make money for somebody--and it is probably not you. It is not your family.

Working is like a poker game: if you haven't figured out who the sucker is in the first ten minutes, it is you. You owe them nothing. You are leaving to go out and die, plain and simple. If management has failed to plan for certain disruptions such as unplanned vacancies, T.S.

With all my heart, I hope you have a good package. You gave your life for it.
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:11 PM   #16
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Officially, I gave 6 months' notice, but unofficially more. My best friend at work became my supervisor three years before I retired, and she already knew of my retirement plans. I worked for the federal government, so my job was not in any peril if I gave early notice. And, with my best friend as my supervisor, I was not subject to being treated any differently after giving notice.

I thought they would have a hard time replacing me, but what they did was to split up my job among several others, including one who was new and had nothing yet to do. I spent 6 months training her for the most difficult and unique part of my job functions, and I actually wrote a manual for her and my supervisor on how to do that job function since it had always been shrouded in secrecy, due to its highly political nature. She still has that job function.

Then, about a year after I left, they hired someone for my position title with GREAT qualifications (honestly, much better than mine were and I am flattered). She will probably help ease the load on the rest, though who knows what she will be taking on.

Probably the notice that you give should be similar to the notice given by others in similar jobs at your organization who are retiring. Remember, in a good, effective organization nobody is indispensible.
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:18 PM   #17
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A few previous discussions...

How much notice did you give to ER?
How much notice is enough?
WAY too much notice! Drat...
6 or 9 months notice?
Request input on giving my retirement notice
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:30 PM   #18
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Look at it another way. Has your company put any effort into succession planning? Have they sought out talented people, ensured that they have the required training, and encouraged you to mentor them? If not, that is their problem, not yours. Given that you have a niche function, give them the six months' notice, but once you have done so, do not waver.
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:45 PM   #19
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Look at it another way. Has your company put any effort into succession planning? Have they sought out talented people, ensured that they have the required training, and encouraged you to mentor them? If not, that is their problem, not yours. Given that you have a niche function, give them the six months' notice, but once you have done so, do not waver.
Do not waver is good advice. I would just add that in my company, I insisted that at all levels and all roles (except for the bottom of the ladder) have a succession plan, particularly if the individual had any desire to move up...no successor often meant no promotion. I realize this is not always an option and looks to be difficult in OP's situation, given that the only subordinate is age 70. But, you are right. If management is not insisting on a succession plan and has not backed up OP in creating one, then it is their problem.

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Old 05-17-2013, 12:57 PM   #20
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My boss is 70 and has been with the company since 1968. He gave notice in January but they haven't even picked his replacement yet. He does have a couple of prospects but they are being fussy.

I am 65 and have been with the company 10 years. I have told people I have enough money to retire so I am not in line for promotion. I have been warning my underlings that I might give notice next January so they better learn as much as they can.

I have been doing more with the underlings than the boss who lost interest. He told me this week they appreciate that and I will be rewarded. Last year my bonus was 11.5K so I am hoping for more, that is at Christmas. Then January we get profit sharing of 15%. As soon as I get my profit sharing I am thinking of saying it is my turn to retire.

Since they are so slow replacing my boss I am thinking of giving them a deadline like April 29th or April 30th since I will be 66 on April 29th it might be a good day to retire.
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