how to say “I’ll quit over this”

A reader writes:

Two coworkers and I are outspoken and willing to quit or get fired over some changes to our jobs that are happening due to a new (and terrible) director. An additional two will also quit, but their personal situations prevent them from taking it to our extreme. (I understand, I’m not judging.) I have numerous reasons to expect that after we quit, more people in different positions will follow (that work will fall on their shoulders, and there are other changes they are dealing with too), and this turnover will cause some serious problems for the company all the way up to the shareholders. The company has had a massive turnover event once before, over a year before I started here.

I don’t intend for this to sound like I am full of myself or my importance at the company. No one would miss me if I quit today. However, I strongly feel it is accurate to say that losing the majority of the people in this position will cause significant hardship.

Our jobs are in high demand and we are all experienced employees. Being fired is a consequence we’ve discussed together and accepted. We’re fighting the fight because up until this, our company was a wonderful place to work with a lot of hard-to-find benefits and culture.

We’ve repeatedly brought up these issues with the appropriate people as individuals and as a group. We’ve proposed many solutions, we’ve pointed out the benefits to the company, we’ve pointed out the problems with these changes, we’ve talked to bosses of bosses, etc. I’ve been reading this blog for years, and we’ve done everything I’ve seen you suggest in the past.

I think we’ve done everything we can up to the point of blatantly saying that we refuse these changes (and that we will do what were hired to do and not what we’re being told to do), or we will quit if forced to do them, or you can fire us, and the latter two will domino the company into a lot of familiar long-term pain. And while I would prefer to find another job before I leave, if things were to take a bad turn (like the director started yelling at us, which is a possibility I see coming), quitting on the spot is on the table.

The question is, what is the right way to do something like this? It seems to be inappropriate and counterproductive to walk in and say “Not my job, fire me if you want.”

Excellent question!

One option is to meet with your manager and say something like this: “As you know, I feel strongly that this is the wrong approach. I will happily continue doing the work I’ve been doing for the last X years, but I’m not open to doing (new changes) because (reasons). Given that, how should we proceed?”

Or, instead of asking “How should we proceed?” end with, “I understand if we need to part ways over this” or “Given that, does it makes sense to end my employment?” or “It sounds like we should set an end date for my work here.” (Which of these to choose depends on whether you’d rather quit or wait to see if they fire you.)

These situations tend to get infused with a lot of emotion, but ultimately the question that matters here — and the one you need to pose — is, “Knowing that it’s not an option for me to do X, does it still make sense for us to work together?”

Sometimes people prefer a more dramatic option — like standing up in a meeting and announcing “This is reprehensible and I quit” or spelling out their resignation in cod or so forth — but really, taking a calm, firm stand of “this is what I will and won’t do, so how shall we proceed?” is in many ways more powerful. The dramatic approach is easier for employers to brush off as someone being self-indulgent and short-sighted, and even to roll their eyes at it. Not so with the calmer approach.

That said, sometimes you might want the more dramatic approach and that’s your prerogative. Just choose it deliberately and with full knowledge of the potential consequences … including that it will burn the bridge more thoroughly and it may look overblown to people who see it and don’t know the full story, or even to those who do. (And that can have consequences you don’t expect, like making people who weren’t part of the problem here hesitate to recommend you to jobs in their network, because they worry you have a penchant for drama or acting on impulse.)

On the other hand, if you’re ready to quit anyway and you’re okay with it being today and someone starts yelling at you or otherwise treating you abusively, there’s nothing wrong with firmly saying, “I won’t be spoken to that way and so today will be last day.” (Or if you want to give notice: “I won’t be spoken to that way, and so I’m formally giving you notice of my resignation. Let’s plan on my last day being two weeks from today.”)

One last note: In some cases, it makes sense to have the “how should we proceed?” conversation with someone above your boss. Not in all cases, but if your sense is that someone above your boss would try much harder than she would to salvage things with you, it can make sense to go to that person and say, “I’m at the point where I don’t think this can be resolved. Given that I’m not willing to do (new changes), does it make sense to set an end date for my work?” Sometimes that person might step in upon hearing you’re ready to leave over it — but of course they might not, so you can’t do this as a bluff. You’ve got to be planning to follow through on it.

Good luck.

{ 215 comments… read them below }

          1. Flash Bristow

            And once it is all played out and in the past, and OP is happily settled in a new company, Id be fascinated to hear more about this director, the proposed changes and what led up to this, because I can’t imagine.

            About the only parallel I can come up with from my own experience was when everyone in the company was asked to sign a new contract, with more restrictive conditions, resulting in many of us joining a union en masse, and getting their help with the new terms. But I imagine OP’s situation is a bit more radical, if several people are prepared to quit over it. Would love to learn more, once it’s no longer current and/or prescient.

            1. jb

              Some kind of fraudulent/illegal activity, I bet, where those who go along with it will be set up as the fall guys when the scheme is uncovered.

            2. OP

              It’s a pretty long story which would require a lot of background info to make sense, but for an analogy –

              Imagine the VP coming to the director and saying: “Hey, you manage people. People use the bathroom. It’s now your job to clean the bathroom because they are too dirty for my standards. This is your top priority. We’re not hiring more janitors for at least another year.”

              We’re being asked to do literally an entirely different (low-entry) job long-long-term, which we don’t want to do, that doesn’t use our skillsets, while our actual jobs are in high demand. One of our department already got a job offer in a week of looking.

              Plus factor in the facts that there are a lot of other unrelated changes going on that we don’t like (not to this extreme), the director is condescending and seems to be on a power-trip making a lot of unilateral uninformed changes, and that generally everyone loved and respected the previous director (who was fired for controversial political/HR reasons). There’s a low morale and hope across the board before we even start talking about who is doing what job.

    1. OP

      OP here.
      The current update is that things are a bit frozen in time.

      One of our most important and senior employees in our department (not me!) has received a job offer (which comes with a big promotion they’ve been begging for over a year). They haven’t turned in notice yet, because bonuses are due next month. They’ll give notice after that, and then a lot of things will start to hurt, which I predict will cause this entire cycle to loop again.

      We have a new manager between us and the director now, so we’re all giving them a chance to right some of these wrongs. This manager (I think) understands our perspective, but I’m not confident right now they’ll be able to make the changes we want and resist the (quite aggressive and stubborn) new director’s demands.

      I’ll send in an official update when I have something tangible. I’m still on the fence, but right now I’m still doing the work I want to do.

      (Sorry for the delayed response after the letter was posted. Came here as soon as I could!)

      1. designbot

        This is such a varied list of grievances, that I wonder if giving an ultimatum is even worth it? I ran into a very similar situation at a previous job, where I’d gotten another offer and my grandboss asked what it would take for me to stay. When I really sat down and thought about it, the answer was that I’d need a title change, a $20k/year raise, and to never have to work with my boss or her pet/my peer again. It was just too much at once.
        If they fixed the central issue with your role, would the issues with the way decisions are being made, the director, etc. be things you could live with? Or do they need to fix *all the things* to make staying a possibility for you? Because if you have no give on this list, my instinct is that it’s unlikely to work out.

        1. OP

          There’s a long list of things I think are poor decisions, but there’s only the one specific issue about redefining our job that is the must-change-problem.

          I have a few different reasons for wanting to stay. The benefits are only one of them.

          In the long term, maybe it’s not worth it. Things very well may be doomed no matter what. But I’m a strong believer that being happy with with your day-to-day job is extremely valuable (the work itself, the team you’re on, the results you get, etc). It’s not something I’ve had often in the past.

          The other problems, the various failures or future doom etc, come second to that personally. The possible changes suggested to my job are ones that would result in hating my day to day job (I’ve had these responsibilities before). Not just because I would dislike the typical workday and responsibilities and tasks, but because I find them short-sighted and counterproductive to long-term success.

          Even if I could only squeeze out another year or two, that’d be okay. It would help my resume, as I’m learning new skills here currently too. I have no problem with the ‘not my monkeys, not my circus’ mentality.

  1. JokeyJules

    While I hope this is never necessary for anyone, I am so glad that Alison has addressed this.
    This can be such an empowering moment for yourself as an employee and a person to be able to put that on the table eloquently and professionally. I’ve honestly never been able to think of a way that I’d say I’ll quit over something that didn’t include expletives…
    Thank you Alison for posting this!! and OP for asking the question!

    All of the scripts provided were the right amounts of professionalism and sass

    1. Falling Diphthong

      Some good advice from another poster that has stuck with me is framing your awful job as a choice. Like, gaming out all the “If I quit, then” and “If I got fired, then” and deciding that for this next month, keeping the job is the choice you are making because the other options are also very bad.

      People can get caught in loops of self-imposed helplessness. Not confined to a job context, but it’s a common variant.

      1. JokeyJules

        good point! I think it’s very easy to fall into that mentality that you wont be able to find other work or you wont have the same value.
        After having now worked somewhere truly awful and somewhere pretty great, it’s nice to feel like you have options. I’ve talked to many people at ExJob about quitting and they never really had a reason not to, but they hated where they worked and it was miserable.

      2. Birch

        Yes, it’s such an empowering thing to realize you actually have choices. And like you said, to really lay out the worst case scenarios to show yourself that they’re not actually the literal end of the world, even if they’re less than ideal.

        1. Tinker

          Yeah, I’ve had a few things come up recently where “find another job” has appeared on the menu of sensible business decisions for a given set of circumstances, and among other things it’s been amazing how much it improves my attitude toward the situation to go “well, okay, bottom line, I’m demonstrably marketable and probably becoming more so over time for the sort of work that is like what I want to be doing and for employers who are likely not to be doing the thing that is currently driving me bonkers”. Which, so far (though this may well not hold), has actually ended up with finding a non-cod-based resolution to the problem.

                1. AnonEMoose

                  Out of nesting, but I’d say that would be perfect if you’re quitting a pizza place…spell it out on a pizza!

    2. GreenDoor

      Me, too. This is totally a legitimate situation – where you really do need to take that firm of a stand, up to and including quitting over a situation….but where you still want to be professional, leave on a high note, preserve relationships, and not leave your co-workers in a bind.

      I love the scripts.

  2. Esme Squalor

    I like this advice, and I think it could be most effective as another group conversation. So: “Given that we can’t proceed this way, would it make sense for us to part ways?” Having a group of essential employees in your office at the same time drawing that line in the sand would be pretty attention getting. It’s possible that if they go in individually, leadership will just accept the first couple of people’s resignations, and only start to realize the situation later. Laying it all out from the beginning may be more likely to produce desired results.

    1. Coffee Bean

      Agreed.

      Calling a meeting with all 3 of you and the boss/bosses boss and saying basically the same thing: “As you know, we feel strongly that this is the wrong approach. Wewill happily continue doing the work we’ve been doing for the last X years, but we’re not open to doing (new changes) because (reasons). Given that, how should we proceed?”

    2. AdAgencyChick

      Yeah, I was wondering what advice Alison would have should the employees who are willing to quit be interested in addressing this as a group.

      I think if they go one by one, management will probably take the resignations, or at least the first one. But if all three of the employees who are willing to quit ask for a meeting and say, “we are not able to move forward with these changes,” and manager says “You have to,” and gets a response of, “None of us is willing to continue working here under that condition; shall we agree to part ways?” there might be more of an “oh sh!t” moment on the part of management.

      1. Kes

        Agreed, I think if possible it will be more effective for the employees to take a stand as a group, since that’s where the impact really lies, and if possible in the presence of people high enough that they might have the ability to effect the desired change (ie, higher than the problematic director), since their managers may agree with them but have no standing to make changes.

      2. JKP

        This worked for a friend of mine. The board for the non-profit tried to push through changes that all of the staff disagreed with. They went to the board meeting as a group, the board tried to force the changes, 100% of the staff resigned on the spot (including the ED). Once the board realized that they went from having 200+ employees to having 0 employees, they realized they had no way to recover from that, basically they had no manpower left. The end result was like a phoenix where the board was completely replaced and the employees returned.

        1. MassMatt

          I am amazed that 200 employees including the ED and managers would all agree t quit! That is either some truly terrible changes, amazing solidarity, or both! Details?

          1. JKP

            I don’t think it was entirely solidarity as much as the changes were the equivalent of aiming the plane straight into the ground and everyone could see the inevitable plane crash, except the board who were too arrogant to take feedback from any of the staff or ED.

        2. feministbookworm

          This is awesome. It reminds me a bit of the epic Market Basket revolt a few years ago, where, after the board of directors fired the CEO and part-owner of the grocery store chain (as part of a family struggle centering around two guys named Arthur), the store’s employees and customers organized 6 weeks of protests, walkouts, and boycotts. The result was deposed Arthur T coming up with the financing to buy out Arthur S’s shares in the company, and everyone going back to work. I like re-reading this story whenever I’m feeling particularly gloomy about the state of the world and people’s ability to unite behind a common cause.

          1. Eliza Jane

            It’s such a good example of what employer loyalty will do, too. Under Arthur T., the employees started at $12/hour in 2014, and they had health insurance and a profit-sharing program.

            At my local Market Basket, over half of the employees have been there 5+ years, and there are an impressive number that are over 20 years. Their benefits actually help keep costs low, because they have such low turnover they don’t need to train nearly as much.

            And apparently Arthur T had a nearly superhuman ability to remember the names of every employee he’d ever met, so when he came to visit a store, he’d remember all the people he’d seen two years ago at the last visit. People had a lot of good reason to go to bat for him.

            1. feministbookworm

              Yup, that’s part of why I love this story so much– a CEO being a good human being, treating his workers right (they even got their annual Christmas bonuses in a year where most of the shelves sat empty for 6 weeks and customers stayed away!) and keeping prices low for customers built a strong, sustainable company. I moved out of New England and desperately miss having a Market Basket nearby. I hear business schools are teaching about Arthur T and Market Basket as a case study these days, which makes me happy. The world would be a better place if more CEOs operated the way he does.

              1. Winifred

                AND they gave all customers I believe a 4% discount at the register when they reopened as a thank you! For MONTHS!!

            1. Betsy S

              There are two movies out about Market Basket, worth watching. It was quite a ride. The customers went ‘on strike’ to support the employees; vendors followed; stores were open but 95% empty. can search for ‘market basket movie trailer’ to watch clips. It’s a shining example of what good management can do. They offer profit-sharing to all the over-half-time employees and pay decent wages and still manage low prices and a good profit.

    3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      Wow. Does this ever sound close to home!

      I had situations like this in the last year – two, for instance, and won’t discuss them in detail. One, I received an apology for, etc. ; the other, it came down to an ultimatum, that if (such-and-such) didn’t happen, I was leaving. Management relented.

      When management makes what many would consider to be dumb decisions, they then sit back and observe “gee whiz, what’s gonna happen? ” They may also view this to be a weeding out process, very much like the “there’s no money for raises” shtik that’s often used to dump those you don’t want – and you quietly counter-offer those you DO wish to retain when they give you a resignation.

      What they can do is ramp up the heat, so to speak, get people to quit, or, counter-offer them, and then abandon ship on Crazy Nightmare Plan 101.

      Laying it out as a group at the beginning MIGHT accomplish one of two things –

      1) Management digs in, and doesn’t relent (more likely)
      2) Management listens, a reasoned argument is delivered against the plans, and they alter or back down (far less likely)

      I wish you luck…

      1. Serin

        I’m curious: having had to do this twice in one year, are you still happy to be working where you’re working? I think I’d be saying to myself, “I’m not happy to be working for people that I have to MANAGE to this extent. I’d rather have a job working for people who do the right thing without requiring multiple ultimatums from me.”

    4. Sue

      Had this happen in my office a few years ago. A group went to grand boss with the problems with boss, (they were continuing issues that were not being resolved despite prior individual complaints), boss was terminated and so far, all is well. It’s amazing how much that one change made on office culture.

      1. Clorinda

        For punctuation, shrimp make handy commas or question marks, and scallops can be used as periods or ellipses.

        1. JokeyJules

          Imagine, “As you know, I feel strongly that this is the wrong approach. I will happily continue doing the work I’ve been doing for the last X years, but I’m not open to doing (new changes) because (reasons). Given that, how should we proceed?” spelled out in seafood

          1. TeapotDetective

            Sounds like a statement and a half, and after you finish all the paperwork you get to have a fish fry to celebrate :P

        2. Falling Diphthong

          Just THINK if the “I shall confront you by Monday of next week” essay had been not an email, but a message spelled out in fish across the company foyer.

          1. Rob aka Mediancat

            That sounds less like an employee negotiation tactic and more like a threat from a third-tier Batman villain.

              1. TardyTardis

                The fish thing is *definitely* a job for the Penguin! (though I do like that nice Mr. Cobblepot a lot more than I should, really).

      2. Liane

        For truly egregious Bad Management Decrees, the fish, of whatever species, should be microwaved, after being arranged on a microwave-safe platter.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I thought my casual “and here’s my notice, my last day will be…” was awesome enough but damn, I wish i had spelled it out on that jackhole’s desk while he was out for the morning >:]

  3. Seeking Second Childhood

    I must admit, every time I see the cod reference, it cheers me up.
    My job may have its frustrations, but it isn’t bad enough to write it out with raw fish.

    1. Amber Rose

      I love that that’s a thing. I feel like if I one day come here and say I have fish levels of frustration with my job, nearly everyone will understand how bad things are.

    2. Mary

      Despite seeing the photo the other day, I was still, “Oh, COD must be an acronym” until I got to the comments. >_<

    3. Fluff

      Since that resignation story, I walk by the fish counter every time I grocery shop, just in case there is news spelled in fresh fish.

  4. GovernmentDrone

    Is there a chance that the impending changes to your jobs could meet the legal requirement for constructive dismissal?It won’t help with the quitting thing, but could qualify you for employment insurance. It might be worth consulting with an employment lawyer.

  5. Ginger

    The tone of this letter sounds very dramatic to me. I’m not sure how valuable someone who can’t handle change is.

    Before anyone jumps on me for saying this, yes, I recognize I am skimming the issues at a high level and yes, I completely agree there is a time and place to say enough is enough and walk out. I like Alison’s wording on how to address the conflict without infusing more emotion and drama into it. But really, spelling it out in seafood is the best way to go :)

    1. KarenT

      I didn’t find the tone dramatic, but as someone who is in an industry in a constant state of change, I will say that leaving if you are unhappy with the change is the best thing you can do for yourself (and probably what your company would prefer). If you were hired to do ABC, and your job turns into XYZ, there is absolutely nothing wrong with letting your company know you’d be interested in staying to do ABC but if your job needs to be XYZ, here’s my cod.

      1. Queen of the File

        “Here’s my cod”… didn’t think I could keep laughing at this reference but this one was particularly fresh :) :)

        1. pentamom

          I am literally breathless and in tears over all the fish references today. The woman who started all this by her creative resignation deserves some kind of national recognition.

          1. Flash Bristow

            We have fish resignations, we have duck club… Are there any other AAM in-house references that I’ve forgotten?

            And yes I too adore “here’s my cod” .

      2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

        “here’s my cod” is a great new catch phrase. It’s almost Shakespearian.

          1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

            I was thinking more like a codpiece — piece of fabric, usually padded and decorative, to cover the crotch. So just imagine Romeo telling Tybalt, “Here’s my cod!”

            Sorry for the tangent.

    2. Dan

      It very much depends on what the changes are. OP doesn’t say, so it’s hard to know for sure if this is an entitled attitude or a justified pushback against insanity.

      1. Anon Anon

        It also doesn’t really matter what the change is. If an employee is willing to quit over something, there is no harm in them (respectfully, professionally) putting that out there and letting the employer decide what to do about it.

        I’ve been in similar situations a couple of times, both of which resolved before they quite got to his point. One was a pay equity issue, and I did end up saying to my boss “I am not looking to leave, but this experience has me thinking seriously about it. I’m not sure how Employer can repair the damage this has done to my trust.” (Update: The salary issue was resolved, it’s been a year and a half , the grandboss responsible for screwing me over has moved on, and I have a new and better direct manager… and while I’m happy in my work and with my current pay, I am still angry and don’t know if that will ever go away.)

        1. ChachkisGalore

          I would say what the change is could matter. If someone comes to me (even if they used Alison’s script word for word and got the tone absolutely perfect) over a company decision to only stock blue (vs stocking blue and black) pens going forward… well I’d appreciate that they handled it professionally and respect their right to pick any hill to die on, however I am probably going to question their judgement/big picture thinking.

          That said – we have no idea what the changes are, but given the number of people willing to quit over it, I’m inclined to believe it is something reasonable. I’m just saying I do think there could be some reputational harm if someone chooses to quit over very minor or low stakes changes (and is vocal that those are the specific reasons they are quitting).

      2. AdminX2

        I went back and forth, I’d LOVE to know more detail on the changes, but ultimately decided they detract from the simple statement of deciding X is too much change and how to handle that in a job.
        If we spent all the day debating if X is valid as too much change, we miss the point of the action intended.

        1. OP

          Exactly. This is part of the reason I kept some details private, because I wanted to talk about the ‘how’ instead of the worth of the issue. As I was writing this out, I thought this was a question that could apply to anyone in any industry.

          1. GradStudent

            I think your letter is perfectly written if I’m honest. Sometimes the letters here are so crazy that the advice can’t be generalized to others. This is a semi-common problem that I think everyone could benefit prepping for.

    3. Hey Karma, Over here.

      I think your response illustrates the ripple effect that Alison talks about. People talk to people in their industry. And I’ve read enough Agony Aunt columns where the loving spouse thinks that even though the in laws are rotten people, it would be good for husband/wife to make peace because -insert reasons that are simply and inability to understand true dysfunction and abuse. And the same is true for a toxic workplace run by loons.
      So OP, if you do leave, there will be people who may even feel for you, but largely just won’t get it. So follow Alison’s advice and keep calm and employment on.

    4. DAMitsDevon

      I think part of the reason it sound dramatic is because the letter writer is being pretty vague about the issues that have led them to feel the way they do (we know there’s an issue with the new director, but have no concrete examples of what they’ve done that has made working with them so bad), so we can’t tell if they’re being dramatic or if their reaction is reasonable. It could be possible that the letter writer is worried that giving more details could identify them or the company they work for.

      1. Owlette

        This. If many other employees are upset about the changes, then at the very least this company has a huge morale issue. These changes must not be very healthy if so many people are getting upset at them. And besides, even if the company’s changes are 100% justified and necessary, they still need to know about morale issues and need to figure out a way to either retain or hire new people that agree with the changes. I honestly think OP and his fellow coworkers will be doing their company a favor by telling the higher-ups that they will quit.

        1. OP

          OP here. I can absolutely confirm morale is a struggle. It’s something the CEO of the company as discussed on multiple occasions during company-wide meetings.

          1. Charlotte Collins

            My heart goes out to you, OP. I found myself in a similar situation a few years back. Some things were changed. It ended up being enough to keep me from quitting before the main change went into effect, but not enough to keep me from really revving up my job search and leaving when I got a better offer.

            And I totally get why you’re being vague. I haven’t even shared the full story with family members. Why relive all that stress and re-explain why my company decided to treat me so terribly? (And a lot of people left around the same time. Every single one of them that I’ve seen since then has been much happier.)

      2. Parenthetically

        Yes, I absolutely agree. I found the tone a little bombastic as well, but given the nature of the question and the need for vagueness in the name of preserving anonymity, I understand why it could come across that way.

      3. MK

        That being said, being right will not justify being dramatic in everyone’s eyes. Fair or not, a lot of people might think “I completely agree with refusing to do X, but why coulnd’t OP resign like a grown up?”

          1. Foxy Hedgehog

            Exactly this. To put it even more strongly, the entire point of the letter is to ask “how do I resign like a grown-up given this particular situation”?

        1. aebhel

          Well, yeah, which is why OP is asking for advice on handling this professionally. But “I am willing to quit over this” is not a melodramatic sentiment to express to a boss, and it’s a bit telling that so many people seem to think it is.

      4. MusicWithRocksInIt

        Based solely on my own personal ‘nope’ threshold I would bet it has something to do with cold calling or sales or harassing people for money. They are pushing formally internal sales people to do cold calls or are pushing non-sales personal into doing sales. Or it is a non-profit moving into some new money gathering techniques that make everyone uncomfortable. That’s the kind of thing that would make me walk out on a job anyway.

        1. CupcakeCounter

          The cold-calling had me leave a job with no notice in this type of dramatic fashion. The do-not call list/law whatever had just gone through and our corporate HQ had lists of “safe” numbers we could call but getting the lists cost $$ so if you requested it the cost would be sent to that branch of the company. Boss plopped a phone book on my desk and said you’ve been assigned P-Z…start calling people. I told her we couldn’t do that and explained why (including the memo corporate had sent about it) and she wrote me up. I called her boss (at this point my coworkers had made a few calls and had gotten reamed out by people on the do not call list) and let him know what was going on and she wrote me up for that. When he showed up and tried to work on a PIP that put all the blame on me I told them this wasn’t working out and I would just leave.
          Joke was on boss though…she had to stay at that branch another year after that since I was supposed to be her replacement so she could move to a branch closer to her home.

        2. Iris Eyes

          I was imagining something like a system admin or IT programmers being asked to do tech support or something along those lines.

      5. Artemesia

        I would think this kind of drama would only be justified if there is an unethical change being demanded of the employee. For anything else, it is time to find a new job but no point losing the paycheck until a new job is on the horizon. It is hard to relate without knowing what the changes are — are they demeaning? unprofessional? unethical? or are they just taking the company in a direction that will in the long run fail. I worked in a situation like this where of course those who took the company in this insanely stupid direction all managed to come through the subsequent merger with jobs while those who Casandra like warned of the consequences all got laid off. Being right is so often of no use as we see in our politics particularly our foreign policy where the people who screw the pooch are still the revered experts and have positions of influence.

        1. Charlotte Collins

          What about a pay cut? Especially if you’re a woman or POC, this could dramatically affect how much you get paid at your next job.

        2. beth

          Why is it drama to say “Look, I’m not willing to do the change you’re proposing. Is it time for us to part ways?” Assuming it’s true, that’s a pretty straightforward statement giving your employer information that might be relevant for their decision making. It doesn’t sound particularly dramatic to me.

          Unless you think having boundaries around the work you want to do is inherently dramatic, I guess. But we all have them, don’t we? I know I do–I don’t want to work in sales, I’m not willing to pull regular 80 hour weeks, I’m not willing to travel more than a couple times a year, etc. What are you supposed to do if your boss tries to change your job in such a way that you’re no longer willing to do it? Quit without even discussing it? That seems more dramatic than talking it out to me.

        3. Mm

          I guess it was drama that got us the 40-hour work week. It was drama that ended child labor. It was drama that created workers unions. Drama started OSHA.

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I don’t think the tone is dramatic—I suspect this is an emotionally fraught issue for OP, and it doesn’t sound like OP is not willing to handle change. It sounds like the specific changes have changed the job they were hired to do in a way that doesn’t make sense for the OP to continue. That’s not rigidity; it’s just knowing yourself.

      I’ve only quit a job because I was unhappy once, and it was because of a significant negative change that was opposed by the entire department. My coworker quit at the same time, which we did not coordinate or plan, and in the following six months, three others left (we had a staff of 12). Our problem wasn’t unwillingness to deal with change; it was unwillingness to work for a bad manager whose bad management undermined our effectiveness, wasted resources, and depleted morale.

      1. Jadelyn

        Agreed. If your terms of employment change drastically, it makes sense to reevaluate staying, especially if the things that drew you to that job are going away. You can be willing to handle change in general and still say this specific change is not something I’m willing to accept.

        While I started out here as a clerk/assistant, my role has evolved significantly and now I do systems work and data analysis. If I was told that oh, your position is changing back to being an assistant, send Fergus your files on [all my current projects] so he can take over, here’s a stack of filing to do…yeah, I’d be looking for another job.

      2. Me (I think)

        Yes, this: “unwillingness to work for a bad manager whose bad management undermined our effectiveness, wasted resources, and depleted morale.”

        We got a new director who immediately changed the scope of our employment, significantly for the worse. Some of it was likely illegal. Several of our team were summarily fired, and the rest of us were expected to quit over the working conditions. However, this was in the middle of the Great Recession, and jobs were not exactly plentiful. So we hung in there. New director is long gone, most of us are still here, and working for sane managers now.

        Had the same thing happened today, I expect all of us would walk out the door.

        1. Flash Bristow

          Yup. I was at a company which needed to make major layoffs. Those being axed were intercepted on the way to their desk in the morning; the rest of us were told to attend an all hands meeting. Obviously it was apparent that chunks of us were missing – many of whom socialised outside work and who we considered friends.

          The company had flown in a director from the US, who none of us knew, and he began the meeting by saying “We’ve got rid of the dead wood”…

          You can imagine how well that went down.

          [Personally I took voluntary redundancy when there was another round of layoffs, this time publicised. This was A Good Decision.]

      3. Tysons in NE

        It seems many agree that it depends on how great the changes are.
        Previous employer in its “ultimate” wisdom laid off the entire marketing team and when they realized there were no marketing people, so they put the biologist in charge of marketing.
        Same company later lost all of their sales team, so had the remaining employees all do sales. The remaining finance and quality management employees were then doing sales. The office manager was supposed to as well, but he put his foot down saying that he wasn’t a sales person and if they did really want him to do sales, they would have to present him with a new contract and a larger salary especially since he had to take on all the HR functions, most of the finance (as the Finance Director decided that the day to day stuff was “beneath” him).
        He was let go as he refused to do sales.

      4. OP

        This is exactly it, nail on the head. You describe it better than I could.

        The job itself is the target of many changes to the point that it’s just frankly not the same job. There are a lot of others changes going on, but dealing with change itself isn’t an issue at all. When people are trying to rewrite your job description into something wildly different, at some point things just don’t make sense anymore.

        I tired to keep my emotions out of the question. As I mentioned in the letter, this has been a great place to work despite ups and downs, good and bad changes, benefits and flexibility, and good coworkers. I don’t want for things to come to the point I have to resign, but that’s something I’ve had to start considering.

    6. Myrin

      I believe I know why you’re getting that feeling but I think it’s actually caused by OP’s writing being very direct, no-nonsense, and to the point. I’ve witnessed that some times before, where someone calmy but very firmly states their stance without being willing to budge on it, others experienced them as being dramatic because the didn’t soften and/or sugarcoat the issue.

      1. JustAClarifier

        +1 This kind of thing happens all too often. Either perceived as dramatic or rude for not being overly effusive and, as you said, not sugarcoating or mincing words.

      2. Statler von Waldorf

        This comment left me sitting here for a few minutes with my jaw hanging, as several recent incidents suddenly started to make a lot more sense with that context. Thank you for this insight, it is definitely appreciated.

    7. Mary

      I don’t think there’s an undramatic way of saying, “I will quit over this.” It sounds dramatic because LW is absolutely firm that they’ve explored all the options and this is their decision. If they weren’t as clear about having explored all the options, the response would be “have you explored all the options? What about this option? What about that?” and they wouldn’t get an answer to the question that they are actually asking, to whit, if I’m willing to quit, what’s the most effective way to do it?

      Assuming that you’ve reached the “time and place to say enough is enough” — say you’re being asked to do something immoral or unethical — how do you can communicate that in a letter that isn’t dramatic? I mean, it’s a pretty dramatic situation to be in, IMO.

      1. Tinker

        I think it depends — it can be the sort of thing that is really more of a business conversation. Like “this is really a bit outside of the services I typically offer, and it might be a good idea to go with someone else” which is a conversation I’ve had relatively routinely in interviews and a couple times with my then-current employer. From my perspective it’s a natural extension of my role as a technologist — they ask me to find a solution to X, sometimes the solution to X is to hire someone who does X and I am not it.

        1. aebhel

          Sure, but it sounds like OP has already explored a lot of other avenues and management is not budging. In that case, quitting may be the most logical option.

    8. beth

      Considering it’s not just OP but a large chunk of their coworkers who are ready to walk away over this, I suspect it’s more than just OP not being able to handle change. OP doesn’t specify what the changes are or why they object, but given just the info we have, I suspect the letter sounds dramatic because the situation is dramatic, not because OP is making a mountain out of a molehill.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot

      There’s a difference between not being able to handle change, and resisting change that is going to cause some serious problems.

    10. MassMatt

      Saying the LW is someone who can’t handle change seems unwarranted. That there are multiple people willing to quit over this seems to indicate that whatever is going on is terrible.

      I found the tone fairly restrained, actually. The LW didn’t go into any details about whatever terrible things were going on save to say the new boss is terrible and likely to be a yeller.

    11. Name Required

      I agree, Ginger. For me, it’s this underlying assumptions I see this section of the letter:

      “We’ve repeatedly brought up these issues with the appropriate people as individuals and as a group. We’ve proposed many solutions, we’ve pointed out the benefits to the company, we’ve pointed out the problems with these changes, we’ve talked to bosses of bosses, etc. I’ve been reading this blog for years, and we’ve done everything I’ve seen you suggest in the past.

      I think we’ve done everything we can up to the point of blatantly saying that we refuse these changes (and that we will do what were hired to do and not what we’re being told to do), or we will quit if forced to do them, or you can fire us, and the latter two will domino the company into a lot of familiar long-term pain. And while I would prefer to find another job before I leave, if things were to take a bad turn (like the director started yelling at us, which is a possibility I see coming), quitting on the spot is on the table.”

      OP and group has already had the discussion with their bosses many times. Does the group think it will be a surprise or successful bargaining chip to management if they basically put an “or else” ultimatum on the table? It would be a dysfunctional group of management indeed if they didn’t expect a mass exodus after changing everyone’s job description; it would be naive of OP and group to walk into this meeting assuming that management is not expecting massive turnover.

      If you’ve spoken with the management team enough to know that they won’t budge on the issue, approaching them to say “does it make sense for me to continue employment here?” seems a little … I don’t know, repetitive?

      1. Someone Else

        I don’t think it’s repetitive. Management may be firm because their current perspective is “we’re going to do this and you’re not going to talk us out of it” and they might foolishly think either no one will quit over it because people need jobs or maybe one will but not all, and they can absorb that. It’s a normal healthy part of a working relationship to object to some things sometimes, so they don’t necessarily have the notion that all the people who objected are indeed willing to quit over it. When they all come back, not for another round of “let’s discuss why we don’t want to do The Thing” but instead for “we won’t, so do you agree we should leave?” that will either sink in that the previous objections really were serious. Maybe the company will look at this as a welcome house cleaning and accept all their resignations on the spot. Maybe they’ll rethink “wait we can’t absorb this much” and backtrack some. No way to know. But the point is they’re not going in to mutually all resign/be fired over this as a tactic in continuing to try to change minds. The point is to communicate it professionally. It should be useful info for the company to have, that it’s not a coincidence that people quit after this. Maybe they don’t care and view anyone who’d leave over it a bad fit anyway. Maybe they do care and they realize they overplayed their hand. Or maybe something in between.

        1. aebhel

          Yep. “We don’t like this” is a much different beast than “We don’t like this, and we’re willing to leave over it.”

      2. Mary

        I’ve just been watching Theresa May’s Brexit deal get extremely, very, comprehensively, superbly defeated so I think the idea that people in senior positions clearly *listen* when people tell them that what they are doing is a terrible decision and can’t possibly fly seems terribly optimistic to me.

        1. Lissa

          Let’s be fair to the UK and point out that Brexit itself is a terrible decision that has backed its leadership into a horrible corner full of dust and spiders. Regardless of May’s personal politics and decision-making, there was never any way Brexit was going to go smoothly. And a lot of it is out of May’s hands anyway, because there are other countries involved in this mess.

          1. Mary

            Eh, a two-year consultation period to find out what the electorate wanted, what would be likely to fly with the EU and what would get through parliament would have “respected the result” and not landed us in this mess. This is 100% on the Tory government.

      3. Jasnah

        I see it as, in an exit interview, (ideally) you can lay out the issues that caused you to quit so that the company can improve. This is the same thing, except it takes place before you quit, so maybe you can save your job too.

      4. beth

        If it hasn’t been explicitly brought up before, then no, I don’t think it’s repetitive.

        It’s true that there’s a real chance that management has considered this possibility and decided to go ahead anyways, especially given the amount of pushback they’ve already ignored. OP and their coworkers should definitely go into this kind of meeting with the understanding that there’s a high chance of it ending with them parting ways with their employer.

        But it’s also possible that the employer hasn’t realized how intense or widespread the objections to this change are. They might have been expecting people to grumble but ultimately adjust, and need someone to ask the “Does it make sense for me to continue employment here, given I’m not willing to do this?” question to realize how serious the objections are. They might have been fine with losing a few unhappy employees, but rethink if half the department is ready to quit over it.

        And really, OP doesn’t have a lot to lose. They’re ready to walk. They can either walk now, or they can ask one more time and then walk if they don’t get the answer they want. Why not ask?

  6. Amber Rose

    What if you delivered this message in a group? “WE won’t be doing this, should we part ways?”

    Would it have a more dramatic impact while still being professional if several people just straight up say they’re all willing to leave at once?

    1. JokeyJules

      I wouldn’t do it that way, too much risk in speaking for others who might have changed their minds at the last second. I think standing up in front of a group of people who are feeling the same way, secretly or not, is empowering enough for them to join you if they feel that’s what they want to do. But I don’t think you can quit for other people, if that makes sense.

      1. Anna

        I don’t think Amber Rose means one person meeting with the boss and speaking for a group; I think they mean going to the boss and speaking as a group. That will carry more weight (this was brought up above and Alison concurred).

      2. OP

        I will just mention offhand that the three of us are good friends who have known each other for years, and worked together at some previous jobs. I don’t have any concern that anyone would change their mind at the last minute.

        I wouldn’t consider this kind of approach with someone I didn’t know extremely well for exactly that reason.

    2. Roscoe

      I feel like that very rarely works. A lot of people who say they are willing to say this stuff in a group, often will not. Even if they would say it to the boss or someone one on one, they don’t.

      Hell, my last job a bunch of us called a meeting with my boss. I had spoken to all of them previously, and they all said they would back me. They all did come to the meeting. But some people definitely weren’t willing to express the issues they expressed to me, and kind of minimized how upset they were. Some people just are willing to let one or 2 people deal with the consequences, even if everyone will get the benefits if things go right.

      1. OP

        I mentioned elsewhere, but the three of us are close friends and have been for years. I have no doubt all of us stand behind our words.

        I’ve been wondering the likelihood of such a thing working too. But at the same time, do we have anything to lose by trying?

    3. Kes

      Honestly I was wondering this too. I get that normally you’re better off having a calm professional conversation with your manager one-on-one, but in this case it sounds like they have had conversations and are ready to take a dramatic stance of fix these things or we’ll quit – and the power of that is not that any one of them is irreplaceable, but that they’re all willing to quit. In which case, I think it might be more effective for them to make this point as a team, possibly in a meeting with people high enough to have the power to actually fix it (ie, higher than the director causing the problem)

    4. Foreign Octopus

      I get the impression that they’ve already done that as the OP says that they’ve been reading AAM for a long time and has used all of Alison’s usual advice, which must include the group approach.

      1. OP

        We’ve had one on one discussions, we’ve had group meetings involving us + management, and we’ve had large scale meetings that included VP and director.

  7. Less Bread More Taxes

    Once upon a time when I was a teenager working at a movie theatre, there was one coworker who was incredibly difficult to work with. The details aren’t relevant here. The employer had a habit of promoting whoever had been with the company the longest, not promoting the best people for the job. Well, at 2 years, she was next in line for a managerial role. I discussed it with my boss once, but very casually, saying that I hoped another coworker would get the job.

    Surprise surprise, difficult coworker was promoted to my manager. After the team meeting was held announcing it, I stormed up to the managers’ office and loudly announced that I wouldn’t work under her and I gave a week of notice. I think I embarrassed myself quite a bit, but in seven days, two more people handed in their notice. That felt pretty good, and years later, that’s all that matters.

    Of course, being professional is probably the better way to go, but you owe it to yourself to have principles and to stick to them.

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.

      That’s a great example. You did it. You’d do again. Just in a different way. So overall, it was a win.

    2. LuJessMin

      Years ago, a manager asked me about an applicant who had been my manager at old company. I told her I would quit if I had to work with her again. That’s all I said. She wasn’t hired (though the manager told me it wasn’t because of what I said.)

    3. anon24

      I sort of had the opposite happen to me. When I was a teenager I worked at a small business. I got good at the job and was informally being trained for a management position (which I later got). We had an employee work for about 6-8 months who was terrible. Not just a terrible worker but one of those people who causes fights and somehow manages to get everyone at each other’s throats. She left for greater things, everyone sort of shook their heads wondering wtf came over them, and we all started working together and getting along again. Complaints had been made to management but were all shrugged off because this person made sure they looked great when boss was working.

      About a year later we were short staffed and my boss mentioned that this person was interested in coming back. I calmly replied that he could hire who he liked but I would be putting my 2 weeks in, and apologized for giving him a “her or me” ultimatum. Boss asked why I would do that and I explained that she was a horrible worker when he wasn’t around, had caused a lot of stress and interpersonal conflicts and I wasn’t willing to work in that environment again. Boss said “oh, well then.” And she was never mentioned around me again.

    4. 5 Leaf Clover

      I actually think this is a great example of exactly why the LW is right to be doing what she’s doing. Who knows what would have happened if you’d gone to your boss beforehand and said, “I just want you to know that if Dexebelle gets promoted, I will quit and I think others will too.” (Not to criticize your teenage self! At that age assertiveness is so hard. But it would have been an interesting experiment, with little to lose.)

  8. Valegro

    Management probably won’t even care or understand in my experience. My last job lost half of their high level employees (myself included) and will be losing another soon over a lot of pettiness on the part of management and allowing admins to rank above the staff they’re supposed to be supporting. Management is clueless why this is despite multiple conversations and is likely losing a very large amount of money over this mass exodus.

    1. Antilles

      I agree, particularly in light of this statement: The company has had a massive turnover event once before, over a year before I started here.
      If they’ve already experienced (and survived) a similar event recently, I think management is likely to handwave this mass exodus as “not a big deal”, “just a coincidence”, or “this is our industry”.

      1. Anna

        Without knowing how the company reacted the last time it happened, I think that’s a big assumption. For all we know the time it happened before there were major shifts in how things were done, but with a new director the org is heading down a bad road again.

        1. Antilles

          Without knowing how the company reacted the last time it happened, I think that’s a big assumption.
          I personally don’t think it’s that big of an assumption, particularly in light of how firmly the director and director seem on the changes. OP said this: “We’ve proposed many solutions, we’ve pointed out the benefits to the company, we’ve pointed out the problems with these changes, we’ve talked to bosses of bosses, etc.”
          If OP has already tried all of this without any success, it seems like management (or at least the director) is pretty set on their changes. So with that as a backdrop, if I’m guessing what’s more likely, I’m absolutely falling on the “they write this off as the cost of making major changes” side than “this will change their mind and make them take concrete action when nothing else has”. Especially when they’ve got a clear example of surviving a similar large-scale exodus last year.

      2. Qwerty

        Or the memory of the massive turnover might cause them to reconsider. Especially if the OP has the “how should we proceed conversation” as a group with the two other people who are willing to quit.

      3. OP

        OP here. I disagree, actually, which is one of the big reasons why we have been talking about doing all this instead of just leaving for the next job directly.

        The last mass-exodus was extremely painful on the company. The (previous) CEO was blamed and fired. (This is all before I was hired.) They lost some extremely important people across all levels of seniority and departments. To some degree, they’re still recovering. There are still numerous openings that haven’t been filled yet.

        Turn-over and morale has been addressed by the CEO in multiple different company-wide meetings. It’s one of the reasons the company has some very valuable benefits. These were introduced after the exodus. There’s also a huge bonus program in the works (although expectations of success and morale around this is low).

        A rumor is circulating that some people upstairs have their jobs on their line to reduce turn-over.

        It’s certainly possible that they may shrug and say goodbye, but it’s not completely impossible that seeing three of us threaten to quit together causes a different kind of panic. Not just because of losing us, but because (hopefully) it would bring to light how close they are to a repeat.

        We’ve talked about this kind of scenario before, as we’ve all seen across our different work experiences that once some core people run, a flood (big or small) is likely to follow. Given morale, the recent wave of problems and unwelcomed changes, the toxic director, and discussions with others outside our teams and departments, it’s a fact that a not-insignificant number have job-hunting on the table.

        1. OP

          I should have mentioned too – the bonus program is dependent in our success of reaching some very aggressive (read:unreasonable) milestones (and we’re already off track). This is why I mention expectations/morale is low about this.

    2. The New Wanderer

      Existing management probably won’t change, no. I know of a company that lost an entire team of people who do X because those people reported to the Y manager, and the Y manager kept throwing them under the bus whenever anything went wrong. The X team got tired of it and quit en masse. A year or so later, the same thing happened with the new X team. As long as the Y manager held sway, X team had too little value or power to change anything and their contributions were ignored or blamed.

      It probably would still be happening except the company hired a new VP who finally made a few changes. The latest version of the X team now reports to a different structure. However the company didn’t entirely learn, as the Y manager is still there.

  9. Milnoc

    I would write the letter of resignation in advance explaining in diplomatic detail why you must leave, and have it addressed to the director’s superior. When you’re ready to hand it over once it’s clear the situation will never be resolved, write the current date on the letter and sign it in front of them, then hand it over.

    If all three of you do this at the same time, it’s demonstrate to upper management just how bad the work environment has become.

    How upper management deals with the bad director after that is anyone’s guess, but at least you would have left on your own terms and with your head held up high.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Do not resign via letter! Resigning is a conversation — it can be a short one, but it’s a conversation. You can provide the letter as documentation of your decision afterwards, but it’s just documentation of a conversation you’ve already had (contrary to what movies like to show).

      1. Milnoc

        Well, not by putting in a mailbox for later delivery, but definitely presenting it in person as a document confirming your intention to leave once the discussion has concluded without the desired results.

        I can’t remember who it was exactly, but I remember one person mentioning he always carried a letter of resignation with him at all times because that’s how fast the conditions could change in his line of work.

        But from what the writer has indicated, their working conditions may have already deteriorated beyond the hope of any remedy. After all, it was the bad manager’s superiors who hired the individual in the first place, and they’re more likely to keep the bad manager employed than admit through the manager’s dismissal that they had made a mistake.

        1. VGH

          That sounds weirdly confrontational and antagonistic. And yeah, as Alison alluded, it sounds like the sort of ridiculous thing people do in movies. That’s… ill-advised. You can just say you quit, you don’t need to add all the drama.

          Then just send an email after to confirm your last date etc. No printed paper required!

  10. Violet Fox

    I’ve actually.. sort of done this.

    Due to a lot of circumstances involving an office move, the third person on my team dropped everything he was supposed to do, dropped communicating with us and ended up making it so the other two of us had to work multiple 60+ hour weeks back to back doing mostly physical work. Everything was incredibly time-sensitive so nothing could be delayed longer than it was.

    This amount of hours is not normal at all for where we work.

    When the guy had not said word one to either of us the week following when things started to cool down (not so much as “sorry”), which actually very awkward because we work in a shared office due to the need to communicate with each other, the two of us who ended up having to go our boss and we detailed the problems, as we had been doing over the past week (I was already pretty pissed off, and tired by then so I had not really been delicate the whole time), and said that either he goes or we go.

    He’s gone. The two of us are the happiest we’ve been in years. Our work-load actually dropped in the long term after he went away. Before that, a lot of it was cleaning up the messes it turned out the guy made.

  11. Mike C.

    If you have more support from folks that aren’t able to just quit, perhaps you should consider unionizing instead.

  12. Not Today Satan

    I wish more people did this. When people wait to get a new job to resign, they often end up leaving months after the trigger–and so bad bosses just put their heads in the sand about why everybody left. They “found a better opportunity.” Quitting without a job lined up (or at least officially announcing your plans to depart) sends a pretty strong message to your employer and colleagues.

    I understand that not everybody can do that, though.

    1. OP

      It has utterly shocked me in the past when my boss was surprised to learn I was resigning. I’d felt I’d done literally everything except walk out the door.

      That’s part of the reason for this exact question, because in the past it has seemed like it SHOULD be obvious it’s going to happen, but for some reason it isn’t.

  13. PSB

    I could have written this letter. This is exactly the situation in my job right now…with the exception that I’m not able to quit., unfortunately. I think my organization is a bit farther along this chain of events as we’re already deep into the turnover crisis the LW predicts. My team of six is down to just two of us. Even the turnover hasn’t prompted management to reconsider. What I wish they’d consider is the way turnover is like the first drop of a roller coaster. It accelerates as more people go over the hill. I’m at the point now that I theoretically have the workload of three people and have managers whose judgment I don’t trust. A year ago I loved my job and intended to work here until retirement. Now with the added stress and no sign that things will turnaround soon, I feel like I have little choice but to look for a new job.

    Best of luck, LW. I respect and admire your willingness to take this sort of stand.

    1. OP

      That roller-coaster scenario is exactly what I’m predicting to happen here as well, which I expect will be twice as bad given their previous turnover.

      A couple of us have seen it happen before at other companies.

  14. hiptobesquared

    I was in this situation once and due to the fact that it was a volunteer gig (albeit a rather lofty one in which I ran a non-profit), easier as I wasn’t out any money. I sat down with the board, said everything I wanted to say, and yes, it was disappointing that they chose the discfunction over me, in the end, I don’t miss it as much as I would have thought.

    I’m rooting for you!

  15. I Work on a Hellmouth

    Good luck, OP! I’m glad you’re in a position where you are able to do this. I agree with all of the comments about going with as many people as are able to also do this as you can get–I hope that it actually results in change, but if it doesn’t I applaud you for getting out. And I really hope you send in an update.

  16. Like Snow Never Evaporated

    Been there, done that. A large group of my department had an top down brought on change that was a hill we were willing to die on. There were many meetings and discussions about what this change would cause, with no support from up above to our concerns. Like the letter writer most people had to look for other jobs first.

    I was on vacation that upon returning from was targeting to give my notice so I would leave prior to the planned implementation. I happened to check my work email on my way home to find that they had pushed out the start date 6 weeks. I ended up staying and managed to accept a new position elsewhere during this time.

    It was nice but I was slightly looking forward to telling them ‘thanks but no thanks’.

  17. Employment Lawyer

    Especially if there are multiple employees, you should consider hiring a lawyer to help you.

    I say this because small details here can have surprising consequences. To use a specific example: people who quit are NOT generally eligible for unemployment, while most people who are fired ARE eligible for unemployment. The difference between “quitting in principle” and “getting fired for failing to do something stupid” can be worth a lot of money, to both sides. Speaking from personal experience, this is a depressing thing to tell someone in retrospect.

    And that’s not even to get started on the potential costs/benefits of getting a union involved….

    TL/DR: This is probably more complex than you realize; you may have options you don’t know about; hire some help.

    1. Slartibartfast

      This was me. New owner was pushing a change that was both unethical and potentially dangerous, and was deliberately working us extremely short handed to make this change “necessary”, because owner knew we wouldn’t do it willingly. I actually used the phrase maybe this is where you and I part ways, which led to a saccharine change in his tone and an attempt to get me to promise not to quit without notice, and to take the two weeks vacation I was about to leave for to “cool down and think things over”. I was not surprised to be called into the office the second I walked in the door. When he told me I was being fired for violating a non-existent policy, I said “We’re done here then” and walked out. He had a piece of paper face down on the desk, I’m sure it was some sort of pre printed admission that he thought he could shock me into signing, because he’s done that to other people. I now have to explain why I’m not eligible for rehire there, but it didn’t stop me from getting two other jobs since then. Not like I was planning on using him for a reference anyway. As awful as it all was, I would do it again.

      1. Slartibartfast

        The tl,dr is I got unemployment and other assistance because I let him fire me. It would have been financially worse to quit.

  18. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    My situation right now is quite intolerable but I have set a deadline…. then again, I’m beyond FRA and have planned for my retirement years, and I have, in fact, detailed conditions upon which I’ll stay with the company.

    But not everyone can do that. If you’re 35 and have mortgage and tuition payments to make – it’s difficult – been there, done that.

    At one point in time I quit a job over conditions – actually was about to be fired – but I got a substantial increase and a much better job by escaping that situation. But some were left behind – and could not do so – they didn’t have a full skills set nor interviewing skills…

    Again, OP, I wish you luck – but – if you are in an endeavor where your services are in great demand, that acts in your favor.

  19. Jam Today

    Oof. I have no advice to give other than I once blurted that out reflexively when asked about a possible org change. My manager had been fired and the director of my department asked how I would feel about a woman who was openly abusive towards me being made my manager. Without even pausing to think about the ramifications, I said “I’d quit on the spot” and that ended the conversation. I don’t think he was expecting that answer, but she was not made my manager so I guess it worked out in my favor (sort of) in the end.)

  20. The Man, Becky Lynch

    If they’re sinking their own ship, it’s better to leap than be pushed by the others jumping first.

    Been there, done that. It’s on the shareholders to care and handle things in the end. Sometimes it’s a huge turnover like this that wakes them up sometimes not. You just take care of yourself in the end.

    I’ve never seen an ultimatum work before but it’s better than leaving without trying.

    1. Name Required

      “I’ve never seen an ultimatum work before but it’s better than leaving without trying.” Yes, I would very surprised if this will work, considering all the hard pushes OP has previously made. OP, you should make your position absolutely clear — that you will seek other employment if these changes are made — but be prepared for them not to work.

    2. Queen of the File

      I actually have seen this ultimatum work once. I worked at a 9-5 job that was being asked to provide 24/7 on-call service. It would have meant 2/6 people had to be within a 1 hour drive of the office and be work-ready at all times, for no additional compensation (and for work that was truly not urgent). The whole team said ‘if you do this we will leave’ and they ended up not implementing the change (at least not in the 4 years I was there).

    3. Elizabeth

      I’ve seen it work a couple times, both at university IT departments. In both cases, senior members of the staff were willing to put their grievances in writing, including their willingness to part company with the organization if changes didn’t get made, which were also signed by their subordinates and other junior members of the staff. In each case, the individuals involved in the decisions that got the departments to that point were reassigned to non-management duties and named as “Vice President of Special Projects”. Apparently, that is a common way to remove problem individuals in academia, because they are told that their Special Project is finding a job somewhere else before their contract is up.

  21. Autumnheart

    Some people are suggesting that the OP is being a little dramatic, but consider that it’s only the middle of January, and we’ve already had the boss who wants everyone to disclose their medications, the boss who wants a masectomy patient to wear a prosthesis because he was “uncomfortable” with the way her boobs looked, and the boss who called an employee’s mom and told the whole team she might have committed suicide. If OP’s been reading AAM for as long as she says, and is still like, “This situation calls for a group confrontation and/or mass resignation,” then it must be pretty spectacular. I admit my drama llamas are dying to know what it’s about, but maybe it’ll be in the update.

    1. OP

      I love this. Hahaha.

      Nothing as completely insane as that. I don’t think I could keep a situation like that to myself.

  22. Stephanie (HR Director)

    The calmer you are, the more you bring simple fact rather than emotion or drama, the greater your chances of being taken seriously and continuing or separating on good terms. It may be that this is simply the way it is going to be, regardless of what turnover it may cause, and that’s for the management team to decide, however your approach this conversation will drastically affect how they receive what you’re trying to say, how they will perceive you as an employee, and potentially what they are willing to do to keep you. Good luck!

  23. rubyrose

    I had somewhat the same type of situation. I had been working for over 2 years with someone who was not holding up his end of the work and I was constantly having to prop him up. I had the serious talk with my management about this last May; they went to his manager. I agreed to keep things as they were as long as his management put some skin in the game on managing/mentoring/training him. They did not do it.

    It came to a head about a month ago, when I caught him trying to promote untested code. I set up a meeting with my manager, then sent an email just to him. In that one, I told him the topic of our meeting was for me to ask him where else our larger work group could use my talents. He can read between the lines. Within 48 hours the guy was reassigned to something else.

  24. Aiani

    I’ve done this once along with two other co-workers. It worked out for us, and I’m still working at the same place.

    If anyone is curious about the details, I work in a job with three shifts and myself and two other co-workers all worked in a specialized area on the same shift. People working in that same specialized area on the other two shifts weren’t as strong in their jobs, due to being fairly new to those jobs, so management planned to force the three of us to split up across the three shifts.

    None of us were able to change our hours and we had scheduling reasons for working the hours we did. Also normally our job didn’t change people’s shifts unless it was requested by the employee and approved by their manager so this was unprecedented. But the thing that bothered us most was that it felt like being punished for being good at our jobs and instead of wanting to do more training management just wanted us to go prop up these weaker shifts and not with any kind of promotion either. For the record I had no problem helping to train people, I just wasn’t able to change my whole schedule permanently. We told our boss that different hours didn’t work for any of us and we would be forced to find other jobs if the change went through. They had already said we were the three strongest in that department so they didn’t want to lose us and we didn’t have to change shifts.

  25. Louise

    This strangely reminds me of acting advice we would get in school re: playing scenes when you character is angry. A lot of times the impulse is to yell and be really big! But the note we’d often get is that the most powerful thing you can do when playing anger is to whisper, because oh boy is controlled and purposeful anger a LOT scarier than just yelling.

  26. TinLizi

    My sister went through something like this. She was a health/safety inspector for a lab and they were pressuring her to sign off on unsafe, but money saving practices. She refused. When they threatened to fire her over it, she walked. I’ve never been more proud of her!

    1. the Change may be good! just not good for OP

      that’s awesome of your sister! I don’t really see how it is a similar situation though. nothign in OP’s post suggests that they are being asked to do something wrong or unethical or illegal — just something new that is not currently part of their role.

  27. Absurda

    I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this. Changes, particularly major ones, can be incredibly stressful even when you agree with them. When you don’t, it’s truly awful. We are in the process of implementing major changes dictated by our EVP and it’s been painful, so I can sympathize. You don’t say what the changes are, but in our case job duties changed significantly and people have lost perks like flexible hours and working from home.

    We’re centralizing in one place so a lot of people were let go because they aren’t located in the correct place (though it’s interesting that a couple people moved in order to retain their jobs even with the changes) and many, many people threatened and did quit as a result. A couple things for you to keep in mind:

    1. You and your manager may have a great relationship and your boss may greatly value your contribution, but there may not be anything they or their boss can do about the changes. In our case, the only thing managers could say is “this is the way the business is going, it’s not going to change. We’d love to keep all of you, but if you don’t see yourself staying, that’s fine too. We’ll happily help with references or transfers.”

    2. We did lose some top performers and have to hire a lot of new people and it was disruptive, but that was temporary. Senior management may see that kind of temporary disruption and loss of good people as worth it to attain their long term goal. Just remember, if they decide that they can’t/won’t backtrack the changes, it’s not personal any more than it would be if you left because you decided you wanted your career to go another direction and left to pursue that.

    Hope this helps at least a little. Good luck!

  28. the Change may be good! just not good for OP

    I’m surprised to see few comments suggesting that perhaps the change IS warranted, with a bigger picture in mind than perhaps OP does not have / is ignoring. or at least, advice to OP to consider the “other side” before dramatically quitting.

    To be clear, OP is certainly able and in his/her rights to quit / follow Alison’s advice. but if I were in OP’s position, before doing so I would really try to hear the reasons for the change. When OP and coworkers did all the convincing attempts they did (“We’ve repeatedly brought up these issues with the appropriate people as individuals and as a group. We’ve proposed many solutions, we’ve pointed out the benefits to the company, we’ve pointed out the problems with these changes, we’ve talked to bosses of bosses, etc.”) they must have gotten some response / answer. There’s obviously a reason that the change is being put in place? Jobs/Roles change, sometimes – that doesn’t mean its a wrong change.

    It may indeed be a not-good change! or not good for OP but good for the company. Alison’s advice still stands, of course; OP is still free to quit over it if he/she feels that strongly about not wanting to do the new part(s) of his/her job.

    1. Afiendishthingy

      How do you know they haven’t already heard the reasons for the change, gave it due consideration, and still came to the conclusion it was unacceptable?

    2. Mary

      >>I’m surprised to see few comments suggesting that perhaps the change IS warranted, with a bigger picture in mind than perhaps OP does not have / is ignoring. or at least, advice to OP to consider the “other side” before dramatically quitting.

      Because that clearly wouldn’t be useful advice to the OP! How bizarre to think they wouldn’t have considered that if it was a possibility, and as if a bunch of people with literally no knowledge of the situation going, “but have you considered that management may be Right?” is going to make them go, “Oh yeah – that’s actually a really good point!”

  29. Mr. Bob Dobalina

    I am sensing conflicting emotional aspects of this that I can’t figure out. OP writes: “We’re fighting the fight because up until this, our company was a wonderful place to work with a lot of hard-to-find benefits and culture.” But with what we know, it does not sound like a wonderful place to work *now*, given the undesirable major imminent job changes, the management’s deafness to employees’ concerns over these changes, the terrible director, and the prior “massive turnover event”. It sounds like OP’s employer may have bad management (based on prior massive turnover event) and that these significant organizational changes have already been decided upon, despite repeated employee objections. Doesn’t sound like a good culture to me.

    So OP, I would encourage you not to hang on to a dream of what your employer once was, because it sounds like that rug is being yanked out from underneath you, despite your efforts to keep standing on it. You wrote in some detail about the predicted snowball consequences of your departure, but it doesn’t really matter what happens after you leave. Maybe your predicted consequences will give you some bargaining leverage, but only if the management has the same predictions and wants to avoid those consequences. Consider whether you are too emotionally invested in that company. Do what is best for YOU. AAM, as usual, provides sound advice. If your job is in high demand, I suggest you start looking for a new position immediately. Unless your employer is a peerless industry unicorn, surely you can find similar benefits from another company in this industry? Good luck.

  30. TootsNYC

    So if it is what you mean, what’s the downside to saying, “I will quit over this–that’s how strongly I feel”?

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