IT Manager Leaving a Small Company Gracefully

sensitivestoicsensitivestoic A+; Network+; Security+; MCSA Windows 10Illinois, USAPosts: 59Member ■■■□□□□□□□
Long story short the current company I work for is putting me in tough situations. They are pushing boundaries that are ethically questionable and not in line with my own personal values. I've been meaning to make a graceful exit for some time. However, as the main IT administrator for this company I fear my boss will pursue me and try to force IT work or consultation that is not compensated after my departure. Are there legal forms or paperwork that I can use to have my boss sign off that everything was to the best of ability passed on to a successor? How can I ensure my boss won't take legal action due to their own ineptitude/mismanagement?

I say this as one who observed the boss do the same to a previous colleague who should not have been liable. What are the best ways to protect myself? Thanks for any thoughts.
Certs Achieved: CompTIA A+ | Net+ | Sec+| MCSA Windows 10
Currently Studying:
CompTIA Project+
Future Goals: 
CompTIA Server+ | MCSA Server 2016 | PMP



Comments

  • shochanshochan Senior Member Posts: 839Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    Definitely find another job first...give your 2wks and get outta there.  Doubtful they can take legal action, unless YOU have done something illegally.
    2019 goals -> CySA+ (Sept)
    "It's not good when it's done, it's done when it's good" ~ Danny Carey
  • DZA_DZA_ Untitled. Posts: 358Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    First off, take care of yourself and make sure that you have all prerequisites in finding your next job. This would be your number one priority and then provide your regular notice. If your manager is trying to push work outside of your departure, I would decline and inform the manager that you're not legally obligated to complete any of the work. By leaving, you are terminating your engagement with the company, end of story. I am not sure the legality of paperwork in the US although personally I can't see they forcing any more work onto you after you leave. 

    Judging that it's a small company is that they most likely don't have any formalities for people leaving or signing off. Be sure to cover all your bases and make your exit. 

    Cheers and good luck.
  • paul78paul78 Posts: 3,013Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    @sensitivestoic - you indicated that you are in Illinois. Illinois is an at-will employment state. That means that either employee or employer can terminate employment without notice. Do you have any kind of employment contract or are you a contractor with a services agreement? Generally speaking, you shouldn't expect any further obligation to a former employer other than traditional non-disclosure, non-solicit, and non-disparate obligations.
    sensitivestoic said:
    Are there legal forms or paperwork that I can use to have my boss sign off that everything was to the best of ability passed on to a successor? How can I ensure my boss won't take legal action due to their own ineptitude/mismanagement?
    If you are a full-time employee, there's really no need for this. Consultants with their own business normally would bake this into the consulting agreement. And there are typically liability caps in their consulting agreements, plus pre-agreed delivery criteria.
    sensitivestoic I say this as one who observed the boss do the same to a previous colleague who should not have been liable. What are the best ways to protect myself? Thanks for any thoughts.
    If you are able to cite the example, that would be helpful. But it is generally not possible for an employer to hold an employee liable for poor performance unless the employee committed fraud or breaks the law. The exception is usually some sort of claw-back provision in an employment contract. But that's typically seen in executive compensation agreements or sales people who have commission clawback provisions in their compensation agreements.
  • Jon_CiscoJon_Cisco Posts: 1,717Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    Deal with one thing at a time. Find a job and leave. Stressing over making a bad boss happy is never productive.

    Good Luck!
  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Posts: 6,751Mod Mod
    What? Is this your first job? You quit, you owe no one nothing. Please dont overthink this. 
  • JDMurrayJDMurray Certification Invigilator Surf City, USAPosts: 11,307Admin Admin
    Do you believe that your employer would have a reason to file civil or criminal charges against you? How unethical are the people/practices at this place?
  • sensitivestoicsensitivestoic A+; Network+; Security+; MCSA Windows 10 Illinois, USAPosts: 59Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    edited January 2
    DZA_ said:
    First off, take care of yourself and make sure that you have all prerequisites in finding your next job. This would be your number one priority and then provide your regular notice. If your manager is trying to push work outside of your departure, I would decline and inform the manager that you're not legally obligated to complete any of the work. By leaving, you are terminating your engagement with the company, end of story. I am not sure the legality of paperwork in the US although personally I can't see they forcing any more work onto you after you leave. 

    Judging that it's a small company is that they most likely don't have any formalities for people leaving or signing off. Be sure to cover all your bases and make your exit. 

    Cheers and good luck.
    I'll clarify a couple of things: I have been working for the company for the last 3+ years and am working to close off my existing projects and transfer to a new position before the end of Spring 2019. Yes, this is- for professional purposes- my fist full time position after undergrad (internships and part-time aside). My own reason for staying at all is because I get bonuses for some projects that I have already invested a significant amount of time and I wish to see them closed for the clients' sake. I've had plans set in motion for some time as I am working to apply to grad school within the next 1-2 years. This is what makes things challenging- being a small company I am dependent on the boss for a good reference/review. Other than the boss and their partner I am the highest ranking executive in the company which puts me on thin ice to leave gracefully while maintaining them as an open channel for future references. You hit it on the nail when you mention lack of formalities. Because this company is smaller (ie. 10-20 employees) and still getting on its feet, next to nothing is written in policy or on paper. I have not intentionally compromised any signed agreements between me and the company and I have not intentionally compromised any legal restrictions. However, I am concerned that the boss will continue to push for questionable actions.

    With my past co-worker the boss claimed that the worker failed to hand over credentials for a company website. The boss immediately suggested that the worker was holding the site ransom in order to extort the company for additional money. The reality is that the co-worker handed over everything that he could think of within his notification. However, because other executives have a lack of technical aptitude many areas of documentation or transfer are lost due to lack of protocol. The boss then in less than a couple days is triggered and threatening to pull legal action against my past colleague who was feeling pressured to perform extended website maintenance without compensation. All this to say: are there official HR forms or paperwork that is usually signed between executive and technical directories to acknowledge that both parties worked to complete hand off procedures for company credentials/data? My intent is to avoid the fiasco that is currently plaguing past colleagues post-departure.

    Thank you for the advice everyone.
    Certs Achieved: CompTIA A+ | Net+ | Sec+| MCSA Windows 10
    Currently Studying:
    CompTIA Project+
    Future Goals: 
    CompTIA Server+ | MCSA Server 2016 | PMP



  • DZA_DZA_ Untitled. Posts: 358Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    The other folks can chime on my thoughts: 

    If you have established a good rapport with your supervisors and managers then you should have no reason to think that they're going to bad mouth you unless you've done either malicious, something pretty crappy or give them short of a 2 week notice. Is there one person who is your not your supervisor/manager but a senior member of the company that can provide you a reference?

    Is there an HR individual in your company? A company that size should have a designated HR contact at least. 

    One thing came to mind is that perhaps since its a small company, you could write your own exit checklist i.e. all credentials passed over, documentation is provided for x y z, etc and sign off with your boss. That way it's an agreement from you and your employer, if any were to turn south, you have leverage as your binding contract. Obviously you want to make it as tight as possible because you don't want to find holes in your contract and then they start making you work for free. I am also going to go with that they don't even have an exit interview either.


  • sensitivestoicsensitivestoic A+; Network+; Security+; MCSA Windows 10 Illinois, USAPosts: 59Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    edited January 2
    DZA_ said:
    The other folks can chime on my thoughts: 

    If you have established a good rapport with your supervisors and managers then you should have no reason to think that they're going to bad mouth you unless you've done either malicious, something pretty crappy or give them short of a 2 week notice. Is there one person who is your not your supervisor/manager but a senior member of the company that can provide you a reference?

    Is there an HR individual in your company? A company that size should have a designated HR contact at least. 

    One thing came to mind is that perhaps since its a small company, you could write your own exit checklist i.e. all credentials passed over, documentation is provided for x y z, etc and sign off with your boss. That way it's an agreement from you and your employer, if any were to turn south, you have leverage as your binding contract. Obviously you want to make it as tight as possible because you don't want to find holes in your contract and then they start making you work for free. I am also going to go with that they don't even have an exit interview either.


    My only supervisor is the boss/owner of the company. Hence why I'm looking to leave for a company that cares about its partners and employees. There is no "formal" HR representative other than the boss' partner whom is his wife. Heck because of their mismanagement I often performed HR to keep the company afloat. Either way its close and personal no matter how I depart. My plan was to make a checklist and have the owner sign off that together everything has been passed on between us as far as could be determined in a reasonable manner. To maintain a more positive/professional relationship I was hoping to avoid any notification of departure until I have guaranteed entry at an alternative job or entry into grad school. Otherwise the boss will probably get quite confrontational about why I'm leaving the company. With a backup professional venue I can make it seem more like a standard transition. Ideally I'd have a more reliable pool of network connections and references once I grow in another professional department to ease any negative backlash to my professional future.

    It doesn't seem like there is any standardized legal document for this process though? My lack of formal experience with HR is self-evident.
    Certs Achieved: CompTIA A+ | Net+ | Sec+| MCSA Windows 10
    Currently Studying:
    CompTIA Project+
    Future Goals: 
    CompTIA Server+ | MCSA Server 2016 | PMP



  • promethuschowpromethuschow Member Northern VA, NYCPosts: 188Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited January 3
    Start looking for a new job, that's a very unhealthy work environment. 
  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Posts: 6,751Mod Mod
    As I said before, you are overthinking this. Smaller companies like this usually use scare tactics to take advantage of people like you who do not know better. This sounds like a textbook description of the company that will hit you hard with the guilt trip because you are leaving. They will start gently asking you to reconsider and quickly move on to hostility or perhaps saying "you are terminated right now". It wil not be fun no matter what because they make it personal.

    As said above, look for something else ASAP, put everything in writing, depart, never look back. Previous employers do not determine your fate. 
  • sensitivestoicsensitivestoic A+; Network+; Security+; MCSA Windows 10 Illinois, USAPosts: 59Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    paul78 said:
    It doesn't seem like there is any standardized legal document for this process though? My lack of formal experience with HR is self-evident.

    It's still not clear to me if you are actually an employee or consultant/contractor? You mentioned that you have signed Agreements with your employer which you have not violated. Do you have an employment agreement? A consulting agreement? Or is it just the normal run-of-the-mill non-disclosure and aup agreements that many companies use.
    I'm a full-time employee. Not a contractor. The only document I ever signed here when first starting was a disclosure agreement about the proprietary nature of our software. Other than that we don't have so much as a finalized HR handbook. Believe me I've been pivoting to get out of here at the next reasonable opportunity. It's just a shame because some of the projects I accomplished were a great boon to both my clients and career. But all I can do is look forward and make the most of future opportunities whether at university or another department. Thanks for the advice and perspective guys!
    Certs Achieved: CompTIA A+ | Net+ | Sec+| MCSA Windows 10
    Currently Studying:
    CompTIA Project+
    Future Goals: 
    CompTIA Server+ | MCSA Server 2016 | PMP



  • paul78paul78 Posts: 3,013Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    .... Smaller companies like this usually use scare tactics to take advantage of people like you who do not know better.
    I hope you meant "bad leaders" and "insecure managers" :disappointed:  I've worked at and with many small companies and I run one now and we certainly do not treat our employees, subcontractors, or vendors in this way.
    ... Believe me I've been pivoting to get out of here at the next reasonable opportunity. It's just a shame because some of the projects I accomplished were a great boon to both my clients and career. ...
    Why is that a shame? If you were instrumental to a project and you delivered value to your customers - that's a feather in your career.

    I hope that when you say "next reasonable opportunity" - you are referring to getting a job offer. And not waiting for a project to conclude or some perceived slow cycle in the company. Since you are an employee in a state that follows at-will doctrine, you ought to leave when you get a job offer. I hope you are actively interviewing.



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