Job advice - stay with a sinking ship or jump?

Current situation: 2 of 3 managers have already left our project (I’m the 3rd). The project has been going on over 3 years now and is still in a state where it’s really not ready to open up for users. Really no business leadership - this is an IT driven project that will have huge benefits to the company if it works. Company is hit hard with current economic conditions and no bonuses were paid out for 2015 (20% of my salary). I don’t see a clear path or business direction on where we go from here to make the project successful but there seems to be a desire to push towards success due to the perceived benefits.

Option 1: Leadership is panicking and telling me they will do whatever it takes to keep me. They have already given me a 15% raise in salary. They want to promote me to director over the entire project with another big bump in salary. I’ll be able to restructure the team to help the project be more successful and hire a few more people to relieve the current pressure. But this position is high stress and will be on the hook for the success or failure of the project. If it’s successful, I get all the glory. But if it fails, it’s all on me. I don’t have a lot of confidence in the leadership of the company or the direction the project is headed but when everything is done, I’m probably looking at a 50% overall salary increase and a nice title on the resume. I could probably stick it out for one more year if I had to.

Option 2: Stay in my current position. I’ve already got the salary increase. Let them hire someone else to be the new boss. But since I’ll be the one there with the most seniority, I’ll still be on the hook to deliver. A new boss can do all the powerpoints and executive meetings but I’ll still be the prime person people will be looking to. But I could leave any time without a guilty conscience.

Option 3: I have interviews scheduled with 2 companies with likely offers from both. I will be making the same amount I’m making now with no raise. Both companies have pros & cons. If I leave, there are no managers left and the project will probably be delayed (or possibly be considered a failure) and the company will have to bring in 3 new managers to pick up the pieces.

What would you do?

Why did the other two leave?

If you think the project will still be there in a year, do option 1, and be looking 6 months in. I jumped from a project that was clearly a disaster, and never regretted it. But I didn’t have a raise and promotion dangled in front of me, which made it easier.
If there is a chance the thing might get cancelled, jump now.

Depends on your priorities. 50% pay increase and “program director” on your resume sound like pretty big perks. And maybe, being in a leadership position, you could eliminate or minimize some of what makes this project a failure so far, and whatever it was that drove the other managers to leave. Success sounds like it would be a big bright spot in your career, and perhaps you’d gain a lot of deserved satisfaction from achieving it.

On the other hand, that sounds like a lot of work. If you’re not a workaholic “career guy”, maybe it’s worth more to you to spend time with your family and hobbies and avoid the stress. You should probably find another job in that case. I wouldn’t stick around on a failing project unless you’re both ready and capable of taking charge and fixing it.

Yup. Having that spiffy title and better salary shouldn’t really hurt you in your future job search, unless you’re wildly underqualified for them somehow.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll pull it off, but at least you’ll have the position and salary if you decide to punch out before the project crashes and plows a furrow with your face.

The 76ers lost by one point on a lucky 35’ buzzer beater the other night. However, you can’t blame the loss on one lucky basket by the other team because if they made just one of their missed shots, turned it over one less time, blocked just one more shot, etc. then they wouldn’t have been in the position to lose on a last second shot.

Would your feelings be any different if you were the first, or second manager to leave? You sound like a decent person who cares about the project, company, & cow-orkers. However, in this day & age, you’ve got to look out for yourself first. IOW, don’t make the fact that your the LAST one to leave have any bearing on your decision. If you get an offer(s), & the pros outweigh the cons, then jump.

Update your resume, network like crazy, work LinkedIn like a mofo. Then stay until you get a dream offer or it all falls apart.

You say it’s an IT project that will have huge benefits to the company if it works. And you also suggest that there are business reasons (as opposed to technological ones) preventing it from moving forward.

So, think about how likely it is to work and whether you’ll be able to have any influence over the business reasons that are hindering it.

If not, plan on bailing out. But take the job and the hefty raise first. And if it’s so important to the company’s future, tell them that a 50% raise isn’t enough.

You are in an enviable position. You can consider the promotion and still go to the two interviews. Put down on paper all of the pluses and minuses of the four roles, dwell on those and speak with close ones if necessary, sleep on it, flip a coin, speak with those in the same industry online (anonymously, of course), and take your time.

The perspective I’m coming from is I was on a new project, 2 managers and 4 staff had left, we had no manager and were the only team in a bank of 20,000 employees who were allowed to work the hours we chose. I spoke with managers and employees in other sites to iron out difficulties, I learned A LOT about inter-departmental cooperation, and in our team we worked out ways to work together (one guy had a lot to learn about soft skills) that were mutually beneficial and fair. At the end the project folded and we were offered garden leave and redundancy, or to go and work in the Head Office. We all took redundancy - we’d had enough of the place - and some chose different careers.

Two managers leaving could be a warning, or it could be an opportunity. My 2 managers who left; 1 had been with the company a dozen years and went on long-term sick, then quit, the other went to work at another center. No-one wanted that poisoned chalice so we worked without a manager and consulted by phone with other centers when needed. In the end we were offered our old jobs but without the pay reduction, to move to the HO in Edinburgh, or take voluntary redundancy with six months garden leave. We all chose the latter.

If there is no path to success, then the money should not be enough to get you to stay. How much money is it worth to be a loser that was put in charge of a project and then failed? Will you put that on your resume? When you go to your next position and they ask what justifies your high salary and you say “I am willing to be the fall guy for impossible projects”, do you think this will look good and will help you along in your career?

If it were me in this position, I would try to stay but my demands would include the structural changes needed to make the project successful. If the company was unwilling or unable to make those changes, I would tell them that the want the impossible and bid them adieu.

No, the point is to get out before it fails. Then it can be spun to be “It failed without my leadership after I left.”

What Mangetout says. If you think you can do what two other managers couldn’t, or weren’t allowed, to do, then take the offer. Otherwise, get out. It is possible to take over a failing project and make it successful, but not if you are only going to be allowed to do what others have failed to do.

I have been in that position, and succeeded, but I had to do what the previous lead was not allowed to do - fire some people, and bite the bullet and start over. It worked out, but if I was just going to be a replacement for a failed lead, it would not have worked.

Good luck to you, whatever may come.


Yup. If they left just because they found better opportunities, this might be the time to shine, but if they left because the project is being rendered fundamentally impossible by the board or senior management, I would suggest getting out before it all falls apart.

The first manager left because he was tired of the stress and pressure of meeting unrealistic expectations. He was in meeting after meeting with the business getting beat up because things weren’t working as planned.

The 2nd manager left because he was working nights and weekends on a project that required a separate PM but because of the budget constraints, he ended up having to do it all himself. He got fed up. He beat me out the door by a few weeks.

Now, I get to manage everything until the other spots are filled (Yeah me!). I’m fully qualified for the promotion but what it comes down do for me is this - could I be happy going into work every day doing what I’m doing now? The honest answer is no. However, I have kids beginning college soon and the pay raise would help with expenses. And there’s no such thing as a perfect company. They all have their problems.

Right now, I think I’ll wait for one of the company’s I interviewed with (my preferred) to extend an offer. If they don’t, I’ll probably stay the rest of this year and keep looking. At this point, I don’t think the money overrides the other negatives I’d have to deal with. There’s more to life than money :slight_smile:

In the short term I’d do Option 2.

I’d also do Option 3 at the same time to see if there’s anything better.

To what extent is the company circling the drain over this? it sounds pretty serious and sort of unfixable. It’s better for your career to have left before the collapse than as a result of it. Just something to keep in mind.

Even if you do not own any of the real responsibility for the demise of a company, future employers will perceive that you did, if your reason for leaving was the end of trading.

Mangetout, under the circumstances, your posts in this thread should have a pronunciation guide next to your name. :smiley:

That’s pretty exactly what I was going to say. See Dilbert. You are in a position to speak truth to power. Do it.

One can speak truth to power, but in my experience power is deaf as a doorpost. They are power, so by definition they know more than the powerless, right? If lots of people start doing it, then there is a hope.

Take the raise and title bump. They are going to put you on the hook for the project anoway.

Look for another job. I’ve been at plenty of companies run by incompetants where the success or failure of the company supposedly rode on one project. It never ends well.

Are you a major shareholder in the company? If no then whatever happens after you leave isn’t your problem