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If a colleague on your team is planning to quit his job and this may cause bad feelings in your company, would you notify your boss?

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closed as off topic by Jim G., ChrisF Nov 30 '11 at 17:01

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Good question, though precious little to do with programming, has to be said. – Orbling Dec 10 '10 at 12:31
no don't you be a narc. – johnny Dec 10 '10 at 16:02
Johnny's right. Don't squeal. Your boss will think of you no higher than the rest of your team. – chiggsy Dec 10 '10 at 19:24
It's none of your business really - unless you are a co-founder of course. – Jas Dec 10 '10 at 23:47
I'd worry more about having someone like you on the team – sashang Dec 11 '10 at 1:55

11 Answers 11

up vote 89 down vote accepted

I probably would not, because 1) I assume it is not your job to manage people (since you refer to your boss), 2) this is one of the best ways to undermine the trust between yourself and your other colleagues. If you're concerned about the company, go to your colleague, express your concerns (DO NOT try to talk him out of quitting -- it is his life), and politely ask him to notify the boss in due time.

[re. 1): i tend to keep to myself stuff that I learn accidentally, but which is basically none of my business]

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agree, and you better start preparing for adding his tasks to your daily tasklist too ;) – JoseK Dec 10 '10 at 11:03
@Jose, learn ALL you can! – user1249 Dec 10 '10 at 12:16
+1 for "none of my business" – ChrisAnnODell Dec 11 '10 at 0:19

If you're worried about the effect this will have on your work going forward, talk to your colleague and find out when he'll be notifying management. If he's planning to wait until the last minute, I'd urge him to tell them sooner, but you can't do more than that. Ultimately this is his perogative, and if he's told you, I'd assume it was in confidence.

On a more proactive note, you could investigate what the standard handover procedure is, and make sure that your colleague has usefully documented any complicated knowledge that isn't shared with other people on the team.

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+1 on making sure he's documented what he's done (particularly the stuff that isn't common knowledge in the company). – Eric Hydrick Nov 30 '11 at 20:52
+1 - for touching on confidence! – k25 Aug 23 '12 at 16:27

Clue: Mind your own business.

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I would NOT. If your Manager is smart he probably knew it before you did and has already taken proactive measures to take care of it. If he doesn't know it even then it is not your business to interfere in your workmate's life. What if you tell the Manager and the guy chooses to stay back ?

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Very good point that the worker could revoke his intention to leave if not yet announced, saying something may cause mayhem. – Orbling Dec 10 '10 at 12:30

No, it's not your call to make.

If he's acting unprofessionally or slacking you should tell your boss that though not the reason why, that's for your boss to speak to him about.

But you should assume all knowledge you have of his possible plans (because until he quits that's all they are and there are plenty of instances where people have a change of heart) is in confidence and shouldn't be shared.

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Perhaps if you were in his position, you might do the same thing.

You know only his stated intention, which is to leave, not the reasons behind it.

Gambling, parents sick, sexual abuse, drug problem, new job offer, bundle of documents destined for a brown cardboard box in the back of some Swedish hideaway, you just don't know.

Now, we have a handy term that means you don't have to be in his situation to see things from his point of view.


This is a life question, not programming, and the thing about life is that you will be the one up, and eventually, the one down.

How did he look when he told you? Like he wanted to say more? We got it down to one phrase, and although casual it can mean the world to someone:


Like I said, one day you'll be the one down, regardless of his situation. When you are, you might remember the day you went a little out of your way to show a little empathy and feel better a little better at that time. Just a thought.

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+1 For having a decent view of the world. – Orbling Dec 11 '10 at 0:49
+1 for the wikileaks reference – brian_d Jan 14 '11 at 4:29

Definitely not.

News Flash: Programmers typically find the best jobs by networking.

My Advice: Do not kill your relationship with this colleague.

  • If you keep a good relationship with this colleague, he/she can be a source of information and a reference going forward.
  • If you develop a bad relationship with this colleague, he/she could sully your name, and hurt your chances with a prospective employer.
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Do unto others as you wish they would do unto you. I would definitely not tell my boss in this case.

It's also your boss's job to deal with issues like this, and not yours. Getting involved in this way in other people's business is usually a detriment to you.

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Generally no, for all the reasons already given. In a sane environment, nobody expects you to snitch on him.

The only possible exception might be if said coworker plans the breach his contract in a way that severely hurts your company. E.g. if he has a cancelation period of, say, 3 months, but plans to walk away without notice, it would be justified to interfere. Otherwise, just stay out.

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Generally speaking, no. I don't think it is anyone else's business if someone wants to quit, and it is not my place to tell work. In my mind, that would be the equivalent of telling a man's wife that her husband doesn't find her attractive any more. Not my business nor my call.

Now, as stated above, if there were prevailing circumstances... if the employee planned to somehow attack the company on departure (delete existing code and wipe out the backups) or plan the timing in such a way as to hurt the company (make a big scene on the day a multi-million dollar client is visiting) or maybe just leaving under high pressure stakes (we have a week to get this done and don't know how we're gonna make it with the few people we have in the first place) then maybe I might drop a hint that my boss needs to talk to this co-worker about their attitude or intentions.

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Absolutely not. It's not my responsibility to manage the relationship between my co-workers and management. What goes on between them, is between them. What I happen to know, or not know, as a result of happenstance, is my business.

And it's rare - if ever - that anything good comes from getting yourself involved in other people's business. Even the person you think you're "helping" will probably think less of you for it, since you paint yourself as non-trustworthy and a meddling busy-body.

In short, just don't do it.

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