What To Do When You Are On The Receiving End Of A 2 Week Notice

One of the things I hate the most about my job is having to deal with losing good people on the team. I run a small organization (currently 10 people including myself) and there’s very limited redundancy in terms of responsibilities, roles, and skill set. Losing one individual often means that I lose a significant portion of the team’s collective knowledge. It’s painful when all I have is 4 software engineers on the team and one of them turns in his resignation letter. Or when all I have is 2 QA engineers and I realize that I’ll be at 50% QA capacity for the foreseeable future. Just a few weeks ago, my one and only system administrator on the team told me he would be leaving the company in 2 weeks and when I found out, it just about ruined the rest of the week for me. Of course, I’m well aware of the fact that everyone on my team will eventually leave the company at some point but… it still comes as a surprise (the bad kind) to me when I’m the receiving end of a 2-week notice. Nowadays it appears that having tech employees stick around for more than 2 years is considered a long time.

Since stepping into my role as the VP of Technology roughly 2 years ago, I’ve had 4 people resign voluntarily and with each occurrence, I’d like to think that I’ve gotten better at dealing with departing team members. Here is a list of things I would recommend when someone on your team has turned in the dreaded resignation letter. I would like to note that the items I’m listing here might not be as relevant if you’re running a larger organization where there is (maybe or maybe not) a lot of shared responsibilities among employees.

Confirm the finality of the decision

When your team member turns in her resignation letter to you, don’t simply accept that she will no longer be with the team in 2 weeks. It’s not always the case that people have another job lined up and that they have to absolutely stop working for you in 2 weeks. For instance, last year November, someone on my team informed me that he would like to resign. He was doing solid work for me and was the only database administrator in my organization. Plus, I was pretty certain that it was going to take me several weeks (maybe months) to find another person of his caliber. After a little bit of probing he told me he didn’t have another job lined up and made it clear that the reason for his resignation was not because he didn’t enjoy working at the company. After a little bit of going back & forth, we decided that he was going to work for me as a part-time contractor working 10 hours a week. We kept him on for 5 months and my gosh, looking back, I am so glad we had him for those 5 months even if he was only working 10 hours a week. He played a crucial role in our ability to successfully to migrate to AWS in production and really could not have done it without his help. I was able to hire a full-time replacement for this individual towards the tail end of his contract and everything has turned out well so far.

Tell others right away

Share the news of the departing employee with your team right away. And if there are others in the company who could possibly be impacted by your departing employee, let them know right away as well. Throughout my career I’ve seen several managers be lazy with this piece here. Bad idea.

Carefully plan departing employee’s remaining time with the team

Work with the employee to re-plan the remaining time that this person has left at the company. Every single thing that the employee was planning to work on for the next 2 weeks should be put into question. I’ll talk more about this down below.

Knowledge sharing & documentation.

The last 2 weeks of this employee’s time absolutely needs to be focused on this individual sharing as much of his knowledge as possible with others on the team. Knowledge sharing should be done via documentation as much as possible and at least 1 other person on the team (perhaps yourself) should be verifying that knowledge sharing is thorough enough. The last thing you want is for this individual to spend 2 weeks in documentation misery and for someone to realize many weeks & months later (after the employee has left the company) that there are significant gaps in the documentation.

Designate at least one individual on your team who is now going to be responsible for doing much (as much as possible) of what the departing individual had been doing. Make sure that this individual isn’t simply watching over the shoulders of the work that the soon-to-be departing employee is performing. The person being trained/ramped up should be the person doing the actual work and typing away. I don’t know about you, but I don’t learn very well when I’m merely watching someone else do the work. It’s way more efficient and effective to learn when you’re actually doing the work yourself.

Look for additional opportunities for team members

While losing a valuable team member might be bad news for you, it might be good news for someone on your team who is looking for additional opportunities. Keep this in mind when you’re figuring out who’s going to be taking over the responsibilities of the departing employee. Soon after I joined Cappex in 2012, there came about a rather sudden void in tech leadership. I’m sure this void was painful for the company and especially painful to senior management at the time. I, on the other hand, took advantage of this opportunity and did a lot of “CTO” things during those few months, which provided me with some amazing opportunities that I had been wanting for a long time. Without the experience back then, it’s highly unlikely that I would be in my tech leadership role today.

Stick to simple tasks only

Do not let your soon-to-be departing employee work on something that may be the root cause of that very “thing” (module/service/function/etc) breaking sometime after she leaves the company. Don’t let her work on things that are in state of flux. Don’t let her work on things that others will soon be building on top of. Don’t let her work on even mildly complex things. Don’t let her work on business critical features. Even if you think that you you must break one of these “rules” - I challenge you to find a way to not go down that route. But if you ABSOLUTELY MUST - make sure someone else on your team is intimately familiar with the work that she is doing. Losing a valued team member is always risky. Don’t add to the risk factor by having the departing individual work on something risky.

End on good terms

I care a lot about how my departing team member’s final 2 weeks with the company are spent. I want the departing team member to feel good about me, the team, and the company during these last 2 weeks. I try to make the employee’s remaining time with the company as stress-free as possible. I try to make sure his accomplishments during his time with the company are recognized by others on the team and the company. I get a “good bye & good luck!” card and ask everyone on the team to sign it. I organize a lunch outing in honor of the departing employee. One of the main reasons why I do all these things is because I want things to end on good terms. And I want things to end on good terms because there’s a small chance that I may need to reach out to the employee weeks or months down the road and ask for some help. While it’s rare that I (or others on my team) have had to reach out to the departed employee to ask a question I’m completely stuck on, it has happened before and it probably will again in the future. If things between the departing employee and the company end on bad terms, the odds that this person will help answer a question or two down the road are severely diminished.

Get moving on recruiting & hiring ASAP

If you run a small team like I do, it’s very possible that the departing employee is the only person on the team, or perhaps in the entire company, that has the in-depth skill set and the experience to be able to effectively interview and assess her replacement. And if that’s the case, you’re going to want to get moving on finding her replacement as quickly as possible so that the departing employee can work with you on conducting your initial round of interviews. While I feel confident about my ability to assess software engineer candidates, I’m not nearly as confident in my ability to assess system administrator and database administrator candidates. As such, I’ve had to lean on my departing sys admin and DBA employees to help me with the process of finding their replacement and every time I’ve done this, I’ve found it to be very helpful.

Closing thoughts

Even though there’s a large part of me that wishes that everyone on my team would stick around forever (well, at least as long as I’m around to manage them) some employee turnover is good & healthy for an organization. Yes, having to deal with departing team member is often painful & time intensive as a manager. However, keep in mind that new employees bring new insights, ideas, and ways to go about solving problems that often add so much value to the team. Even as I’m writing this blog post, I’m reminded of numerous positive things that have come out of employee turnover.

And by the way, I’m still looking to fill that open sys admin position. Please reach out to me if you’re interested!

2021

My Fitness And Health Routine

5 minute read

Something that is personally very important to me is that I stay fit and healthy for as long as possible in life. While I wouldn’t label myself a “fitness nu...

My System For Staying Organized At Work

2 minute read

Being organized is a skill I personally value and at least for me - it’s a no-brainer that being organized can help everyone do their jobs better. It was imp...

Back to Top ↑

2019

Personal Retreat

1 minute read

I drove about 2 hours west to Stockton, IL - to a place called Christ in the Wilderness (CITW), to spend a few days (Friday evening - Sunday morning) to myse...

Back to Top ↑

2018

Deconstruct

2 minute read

I recently returned home from attending Deconstruct along with a bunch of my co-workers. I thought I’d jot my thoughts down while the experience is still fre...

My Disappointment With The New Macbook Pro

2 minute read

When I started at Braintree I was given a new 2017 15” MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. It’s a really nice laptop overall and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful… bu...

A Few Weeks Into The New Job

3 minute read

I’ve been at Braintree now for almost 3 weeks and I can’t believe it’s only been a few weeks because I’ve experienced a ton of new things and have met a lot ...

Interview Process Takeaways

4 minute read

In the last several weeks I’ve had the opportunity to speak with numerous companies as a job candidate. While the experience is still fresh in my mind, I tho...

Back to Top ↑

2017

Thankful

3 minute read

I started 2017 with a ton of excitement over the opportunity to build Cappex’s very own college application product. I knew it was going to be an extremely c...

New Product Launch And Life Afterwards

1 minute read

A very large chunk of my life from the very beginning of this year until the end of July was focused on launching a new college application product. Thanks t...

Hello Is A Poor Greeting

2 minute read

I’ve done what I think is an insane amount of phone screens since December (well over 100) and in the last few weeks there’s something I’ve been noticing whe...

Hiring Is Tiring

3 minute read

Yep, hiring is tiring. Very much so.

Back to Top ↑

2016

The Christmas Gift Test

1 minute read

Ever since I started managing people several years back I’ve practiced giving Christmas gifts and a hand-written Christmas card to everyone on my team. I in...

Do Not Store Personal Data On Your Work Computer

3 minute read

I know that it’s often convenient to have your personal files stored on your work computer, especially If you’re like me and you spend a lot more time on you...

10 Lessons From 10 Companies In 19 Years

11 minute read

Since landing my first programming job when I was a junior in high school until now, I recently realized that I’ve now worked at 10 different companies, incl...

I wish DST would end

2 minute read

I really wish Daylight Savings Time would cease to exist. I can’t possibly imagine that DST would go away in my lifetime due to the sheer complexities and c...

Be Thankful

3 minute read

Last 2 weeks at work have been rough. This most recent sprint as well as the release ended up being much more difficult than what my team is normally used t...

Gradle Build Scan Rocks

2 minute read

Earlier today I attend a webinar hosted by Gradle, Inc. where Gradle Build Scan was introduced. If you’re already using Gradle as the build tool for your pr...

Compare Property Files

1 minute read

I’ve been working on a rather massive refactoring work that involves changing how Java properties files are organized. It’s vitally important that the prope...

Page Load Speed Testing

1 minute read

I decided to conduct some simple page load speed testing. I hope the following info might be of some value to some folks out there.

Replacing SSD in MacBook Air (13” mid-2012)

2 minute read

I was running low on my 13” mid-2012 MacBook Air’s SSD, which had me pretty concerned. Thankfully I recently discovered that the SSD inside this thing is re...

Simple Interview And Phone Screen Tips

5 minute read

I’ve been busy doing a lot of phone screens and interviews as of late. Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of interviewing during my time at Cappex. Since join...

Resolving Tethering Issues With iPhone

1 minute read

I spend roughly an hour and a half Monday through Friday commuting to and from work and my laptop is tethered to my phone probably 90% of the time I’m on the...

Deleting Non-empty AWS Glacier Vaults

2 minute read

I had a couple of AWS Glacier vaults that I had been meaning to permanently delete for awhile. When I tried deleting them via the AWS dashboard, I got the f...

Back to Top ↑

2015

Why Android Sucks

3 minute read

Android sucks. At least my experience of it has. Now, I’m NOT saying that Android-sucks-therefore-Apple-is-way-better. All I’m saying is that I’ve had 3 A...

Setting Up A 301 Redirect In Ruby On Rails

less than 1 minute read

I saw in Google Analytics that I’ve been getting a lot of hits on junhopark.com/index.php, which isn’t a valid page. I decided that it’d be best to set up a...

Back to Top ↑

2014

My First Album Is Now Available For Purchase

1 minute read

My first album Acoustic Worship is now available for purchase on CDBaby.com! Recording an album is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time and I’m g...

Resolving Dns Issue On Mac Os X Yosemite

less than 1 minute read

I upgraded both my MacBook Air and MacBook Pro to Yosemite over the weekend and I saw that both my laptops were unable to connect to internal systems at the ...

A Memorable Phone Screen

3 minute read

A few days ago, I phone screened a QA Manager candidate that ended up being extremely memorable. It went something like this:

Workout Frequency Before And After Baby

less than 1 minute read

Ever since my son was born in late June, it’s been a challenge trying to find time to work out. Since I record every one of my workout sessions, I thought I’...

Merging Codebases In Git

1 minute read

A couple of weeks ago, I had to merge one codebase into another codebase and after a lot of searching for solutions on the web, I came across a solution that...

Back to Top ↑

2013

Why I Love Being Married

2 minute read

My wife and I met through a (very) random suggestion from a mutual friend 3 and a half years ago. It was suggested to us that we should meet up, get to know...

Pictures From Turks and Caicos

less than 1 minute read

Here are some pictures I took while I was in Turks and Caicos earlier this month with my wife.

My Thoughts On Commenting In Code

3 minute read

A skill that is often overlooked amongst developers and development managers is the ability to write good comments in code, which is understandable I suppose...

Hacker News By Points

less than 1 minute read

I frequent Hacker News (news.ycombinator.com) pretty often throughout the day and I realized that my eyes were almost always drawn to posts on the first page...

Playing Around With Lightroom

less than 1 minute read

I thought I’d give Adobe Lightroom a try and play around with editing some pictures. Well, here are the results.

One Less Debt

less than 1 minute read

Just paid off my student loans, which took me about 9 years and 3 months. I was planning on letting it drag on and on because of the super low interest on i...

Weekend Project Php Website On Heroku

1 minute read

I got hold of some really nice looking single page website templates earlier last week (from here) so I thought I’d go ahead and redo the website for my pare...

Three Monitor Setup

less than 1 minute read

Thanks to Plugable I’ve now got 2 monitors hooked up to my Lenovo laptop at work and I’m absolutely loving it. I definitely should’ve done this way sooner.

Teaching My Wife How To Code

less than 1 minute read

My wife recently decided that she wants to learn how to code and of course, I’ve volunteered to be her teacher. She has absolutely no experience with progra...

Stuff I’ve Been Learning

2 minute read

It’s been quite awhile since my last blog post and I had a sudden itch to write about things I’ve been learning (mostly at/through work) over the course of, ...

Back to Top ↑

2012

Moving From Subversion To Git

1 minute read

Last Thursday, my team made a successful transition from Subversion to Git. Here are some thoughts after having been on Git as a team for about a week now:

I Am Not Going To Pay You To See Your Portfolio

less than 1 minute read

Earlier today, I had a web design candidate who informed us that he would be able to provide us with an up-to-date portfolio of his design work for a flat fe...

Lessons Learned While At Lakeview Church

1 minute read

This coming Sunday will be my last Sunday at Lakeview Church. I’ve been a part of this church since summer of 2006 and I’ve been blessed to experience such ...

Hello Ruby On Rails Postmarkdown

less than 1 minute read

Decided to ditch PHP + WordPress + Lithium Hosting for Ruby on Rails + Postmarkdown + Heroku.

No More Taking Work Home

less than 1 minute read

It’s been about 6 weeks since I started working at cappex.com and while I’ve been really enjoying the work, I’ve also been guilty of bringing work home. I’v...

Job Search Tips From Personal Experience

4 minute read

Earlier this year I decided that it’s time for me to look for another opportunity outside the company. The company executives decided on being acquired by O...

Moodyshoerepair.com Redesign Launched

less than 1 minute read

I gave moodyshoerepair.com a (much needed) facelift over the course of this past week and it’s now live online. This is the first project completed on my n...

Been Awhile

less than 1 minute read

The last time I wrote in this thing was 10/22 of last year, which is also the time when wedding preparations got crazy. Well, thank God the wedding is now ov...

Back to Top ↑

2011

Taking A Breather In San Francisco

3 minute read

I arrived in San Francisco last night with Jenny and a friend of ours at around 10:30 local time to attend Jenny’s friend’s wedding which takes place later t...

Writing Good Software Simple Reminders To Self

3 minute read

One of the main purposes for keeping this blog is for me to think through and reflect upon things and to remind myself of the lessons that I’m learning. I k...

Commuting To Downtown Chicago For Work

3 minute read

My office moved from Westmont to Chicago about 2 and a half months ago and ever since then I’ve been taking the Metra train to get to work. There are some t...

Wow 7 Years Already Since Undergrad

6 minute read

This past Wednesday, I paid a visit to my alma mater (UIC) to be among the panelists to share my post-college experiences of working in the corporate world. ...

My Engagement Ring Selection Process

7 minute read

One of the main motivations behind why Jenny and I wanted to start this blog in the first place was so that this blog would (eventually at some point once th...

I Am Engaged!

less than 1 minute read

On Saturday, I got engaged to the most amazing girl I know. :) It still hasn’t quite hit me yet. To be honest, I’m guessing it’ll hit me once I get used to...

New Site Design

less than 1 minute read

I’ve been wanting to convert my site to a single-page design and after working on this on & off for the last several weeks, I’m glad to have the site fin...

Back to Top ↑

2010

Been A Long Time

2 minute read

It sure has been a long time since the last time I updated my blog. Here are the different things that have been occupying me in these last couple of months:

Excellent Book On Web Usability

1 minute read

One of the things I’ve been enjoying about work since I made the switch last November is being able to get my hands dirty with front-end web development and ...

Software Development As Missional Philanthropy

4 minute read

For some time now I’ve been really interested in going overseas for the purposes of doing missional philanthropic work. And by “missional philanthropy” I am...

User Interface Design 090

7 minute read

Do you remember how in college there were classes that were actually below 100-level? The classes that some folks were required to take but they didn’t coun...

If You Write Code Write Tests

less than 1 minute read

So… I’m scrounging around the internet looking for some TDD-related tidbits and I came across the following at www.artima.com.

Making The Most Out Of Band Rehearsals

8 minute read

Band rehearsals–some love ‘em, some hate ‘em, but there’s no denying that they are very much necessary, even for bands that are comprised of phenomenal music...

Lessons Learned From Being In The Shoes Of QA

5 minute read

At work we have a huge product release coming up very soon. There are a lot of new features to the application, which means that there has been a ton of cha...

New Recording - Gone From The Portrait

less than 1 minute read

Over the weekend I started re-recording a song which I had written a few years back. Vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitars, bass, keyboards, drums-via-k...

New Music - Lullaby (Instrumental)

less than 1 minute read

After lunch @ Sweet Tomatoes with some friends I came back home and took a much needed nice, (too) long nap. Fast forward a few hours and it was around 11: ...

Done

less than 1 minute read

Yet another rendition of junhopark.com is done… at last! I decided to forsake my old Blogger posts since it’s been quite awhile since my last blog update an...

Back to Top ↑