Ethics About Leaving My Job

Question:

I have worked at my current job for over two years. My husband and I are currently debating a move to another state for his career. We haven’t made a 100% decision to move, but at this point we are 99.5% sure. His company is flying us out there next month to be sure this is somewhere we can see ourselves settling in so at that point we will be able to finalize the decision.

Here’s the dilemma… Last week my job notified me that they wanted me to attend a conference to further my development in my current job. The conference is two weeks after we will get back from the vacation to make sure the new state is where we want to be.

Attending this conference is a benefit to both my employer and myself, but in reality if they knew I was leaving they wouldn’t be sending me (nor would they send someone in my place). The catch is they want me to book my flight and conference attendance within the next week or so, which is before we will be 100% sure on the move. Side note: it’s not a cheap expense for the company to send me there by any means… What do I do!? Do I tell them the truth, and just be upfront about the possible move? I’m just a little concerned that if I did they could possibly start looking for a replacement for me now and I could be out of a job if for some crazy reason we decide the move isn’t for us. But I also want to leave on good terms because I need good recommendations behind me knowing that I will be job hunting if we do move. Any and all advice is very much appreciated!

Signed,

Looking For Options


Answer:

Dear Looking For Options:

Consider the totality of your situation as you make your decision.

1. If you and your husband decide to move, would it happen right away? Would there be enough time to get some good out of the conference and pass it along to others at work?

2. Is the conference information crucial to your organization? If so, you may want to attend and wring everything out of it you can, to assist your organization and yourself. If it isn’t crucial or if there will be a similar conference in a few months, it won’t be harmful to the organization for you to not attend. 3. Find out if the conference will be providing any material later, for those who can’t attend. Or, do the speakers have written material, so you could get that even if you don’t go to the conference?

Consider contacting some of the speakers personally and ask them if they have any written material on their topic (a book, articles or something they could send you by email.) That would be an impressive effort and interesting too! 4. Does your immediate manager have any idea of your potential change? Is he or she someone you could talk to honestly about it? Or, since you seem worried that you might be replaced, are you not close to those in that position? If you can talk to your manager about it, perhaps he or she will have a preference. That will show your concern and will be viewed positively.

5. Think about this option: Apparently your personal calendar is clear for the conference. But, what are all the things that, if you had them scheduled, would prevent you from going? A medical test, getting ready for a medical test, a family member needs assistance, your husband is doing something that requires you to stay in town, etc. Use that as a reminder that often employees are not able to attend a function, because of conflicts in schedules. For you to say you can’t go wouldn’t be a huge shock.

You don’t have to say exactly why you can’t go to the conference; you could use vague terms like, “I’m so sorry, but that time frame isn’t going to work for something I have scheduled that I’ve found out I can’t change.” “I’ve had something come up that I’m obligated to do, and I won’t be able to be out of town during that week.”

Nowadays managers are worried they’ll ask about a medical issue so most don’t push it when an employee says something vague like that. The key is not to say too much. You don’t have to explain, just say you can’t go even though you wanted to.

If you say a bit more, you could say, “I’m so glad I didn’t make those reservations already because they are SO expensive. But, I promise I’m going to do some research and get the information on my own even though I can’t go to the conference.” You’ll probably find that no one cares all that much. In fact, it might be considered a good thing for you to get as much information as you can about the topics involved, but not spend the money to go out of state.

I do think, however, that if you cost the organization a couple of thousand dollars or more, then left there a mere few weeks afterwards, it would be viewed badly. So, the timeline is very important. If you have the answer to that, you can decide how to gracefully say you just can’t go this time but you’ll make sure you get the information anyway.

Best wishes to you with this. If you have the time and want to do so, let us know how you resolve the situation. And, best wishes in your new location as well, if that works out as hoped!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.