How to say no to boss begging me to stay

After a year on the job, I got a nice lateral offer from a tier 1 fund in my field to join their team. I've been looking to jump ship for some time, so I was ecstatic to get the offer letter. The pay bump was also nice.

I told my boss about my plan to bounce, and he told me that I needed to stay - half-jokingly, half-seriously. In the end, he asked me to reconsider my decision and meet up in person next week to "assess the situation together." 

My decision has already been made, but I wanted to see how you guys would carry out the in-person meeting that I have coming up. I think he'll be pretty upset, but I want to keep a good relationship with him since he's been one of the best bosses I have had.

Location: US

Comments (23)

Jan 14, 2022 - 5:36pm

Yeah, that's the plan. 

This is such a different experience from my first job when I told my boss that I was quitting and resigning immediately. Didn't think it would be this hard to leave a job...

Consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare.
Jan 14, 2022 - 5:02pm

Sounds like your decision is made, never hurts to give him a shot and see what he has to offer. I'd meet up (barring fine with Covid etc) and even use it as one last time to meet up with boss since it sounds like he's someone you liked. I'd just say you think its the best move overall for your career. 

Jan 14, 2022 - 5:34pm

Thanks, Brett. I appreciate your input.

I think it would be impossible for him to match my offer, as I'll be making more than some of the senior team members at my current company. I do plan on meeting up with him, just so I can have one last 1:1 with him. I'll definitely mention that this is for the best! 

Consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare.
Most Helpful
  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Jan 14, 2022 - 6:03pm

Depends where you work and how much you enjoy or dislike the work and the people.

You could say, "look, the only reason I have this opportunity is because of the opportunity I was given here. I am enormously appreciative and understand I am leaving a ton of learning on the table right now by going somewhere else-just from a professional standpoint I think this new role is more aligned with what I wish to do long term. I could be wrong, but even if I'm wrong I think I need to make that decision so I realize that working at (the firm you are currently at) is something I'd want to do long term. Everyone here has treated me great and I will continue to be an ally and supporter of the firm, just professionally I'm no longer enjoying this role and think I need to try something different. Appreciate everything I've learned here and wish you the best. They then will likely play a, "hey, stay x long, you owe it to your team or us because we taught you so much etc." the response to that is, "X date is the latest I can stay without harming my relationship with my future employer. There are competing interests and I will do the best I can to ease the transition, but need to also think about my future role. Again, I appreciate everything you all have done for me and am aware I wouldn't be where I am today without this job. Hope to stay in touch"

  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
Jan 15, 2022 - 10:41am

Yeah-just a note too, any seasoned and good manager will be understanding and get it. Like there's a right way and wrong what to handle it. The right way is being like, "are you sure?", "is there anything we can change with your current role to make you enjoy it more" "ok, understand, I'm that case, we really appreciate all the work you have done here and I'm personally very happy for you that you taking this next step in your career. Please let us know if you come across any great candidates for our org in the future or if you have a desire to come back because your new role doesn't work out. In your last two weeks, please think about ways to improve the org, and I'd love to meet with you and have a candid conversation about ways we can make the group better"

Sadly, most people are crap managers. 

Jan 15, 2022 - 12:27pm

I've been continuing to read up on how to leave a job on a good note, and you've hit the nail on the head and then some. 

Thinking ahead on what your boss will say and having an appropriate response is key. The same goes with negotiations, which I can talk more about if people are curious. 

the only reason I have this opportunity is because of the opportunity I was given here.

I really love this line and will be using it next week!

For me, the most difficult part will be breaking the news to my team. We occasionally had our differences, but we spent so much time together working on deals, grabbing drinks and dinners, and traveling all over the world. It'll be a tearjerker for sure...

Consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare.
  • 1
Jan 16, 2022 - 7:32am

Even if they like you, they will probably sack you first things it makes sense on the bottom line. The conversation about promotion/pay-bump in your current shop came in light and got firmed only when you told them you have other offer? Even if you heard about it but it was never put on the paper this is a classic tactic to build up an excitement in you and keep you around to milk you. I would only use it to get a touch better deal at the new place and make them feel better about hiring you, as you are a hot commodity. Few years down the line you will be in much better position to get yourself a better deal whether you want to come back to old shop, stay in the new shop or move on to something else. However, if you accept the buy-back now your opportunity cost would be too high, as you already spent a year recruiting and got what you wanted.

To keep good relationship just invite him to some near-term personal event like bday party when you see him and keep the ball rolling after but work is work and if he is not  a sociopath he will understand

Jan 16, 2022 - 1:14pm

Thanks, vitaminl! That's some solid advice.

What bothered me most about my first interaction was that he repeatedly mentioned how underpaid I was for the role I've been playing at the firm - despite being an associate, I was sourcing the best deals, leading diligence calls, and negotiating terms with CEOs. He knew I was underpaid but didn't do anything about it. 

I would only use it to get a touch better deal at the new place and make them feel better about hiring you, as you are a hot commodity.

I was definitely considering this when the recruiter reached out to me the day before the offer deadline, asking to see if I had any questions or concerns. But at the same time, I had already negotiated extremely hard and got a 40% bump from their initial offer, so I didn't want to bring them back to the table again. Perhaps I'll mention it to my new boss if he asks how the transition was. 

Consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare.
  • 1
Jan 16, 2022 - 1:12pm

As others have said OP, say politely that you're extremely grateful for the opportunity/experience him & the firm have given you, but this is new role is just too good to pass up.

Also to help assuage whatever guilt you might be feeling - I'm sure your boss and the firm are both great, but at the end of the day your boss is not in his job to mentor people but to make money for him and his family. Meaning that in a downturn scenario, if he had to choose between keeping his job and supporting his family vs laying you off, it wouldn't be a contest. And that's nothing against him, that's just the reality. This is a team sport but it's also about doing what's best for yourself too. 

Jan 16, 2022 - 1:20pm

A great new perspective on the situation! Work culture is a very interesting dynamic. Perhaps that's why people like Adam Grant have gotten so much attention in recent years. 

Everyone is generous until they need to make a bigger sacrifice than they initiated intended to haha. 

Consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare.
  • 1
Jan 16, 2022 - 7:25pm

Absolutely love anon's response. I've been through a similar situation where a boss who was a good friend and I was a favorite on the team was faced with me leaving for a better opportunity. I think you be honest and realistic with him (same situation I faced), it's an amazing opportunity with more money. And, while he'll try to keep you, as an individual he'll likely appreciate the work you've done for the firm and be happy for your success and you can always carry on the relationship. 

Jan 17, 2022 - 1:59pm

I've been extremely fortunate to work with very humane and talented bosses throughout my career. It's really tough to tell someone that you look up to, someone you've built a personal friendship with outside of work, that you're planning to leave. I've never been able to have conversations about leaving without beating around the bush. It's just such a sad conversation to have. However, I've consistently found that when your bosses have your best interests at heart, all is well that ends well. They will never fault you for the path that you've chosen and will in fact support you throughout your career as long as you part as friends.

Jan 17, 2022 - 3:13pm

Especially in VC, relationships are so key! Who knows, maybe we'll do a co-investment together in the future!

Consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare.
Jan 17, 2022 - 2:48pm

If only I had big balls like you...

Consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare.
  • VP in PE - LBOs
Jan 17, 2022 - 3:28pm

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Jan 17, 2022 - 5:47pm

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