Transitioning From One Job To Another

Mark Suster just keeps putting out great stuff on his blog. Last night he posted about the tricky issue of transitioning from one job to another. Mark writes the post from the perspective of the entrepreneur/executive hiring someone who is currently working for another company. I love this part:

I operate on the principal that you’re most vulnerable in any deal immediately after you’ve won.  I believe the same is true in recruiting.  So your goal is to get the employee working in your company as quickly as possible and with the least amount of collateral damage.

That is exactly the right tack to be taking if you are the person on the hiring end of the situation. I highly recommend reading Mark's post because he provides some great advice to the hiring company.

But there are three parties to these situations; the employee, the current employer, and the future employer. I'd like to talk about all three and how each should behave.

First, I think it is important to recognize that most of the time you'll want to hire someone who is currently working for another company. There are times when you can hire someone who is unemployed or is doing consulting work (which is often the same thing as being unemployed). But most of the time, you'll find yourself in the situation of hiring someone who is currently employed by someone else.

Let's start with the employee. If you plan to leave the company you are currently working for and are actively searching for a new position, I think it is best to do your search out in the open with the knowledge of your employer. That allows your current employer to plan for your departure and allows you to do your job search out in the open. Many employees worry that if they disclose their intention to leave, they'll be fired. That does happen and is a reasonable concern. But more often, the employer appreciates the notice and rewards the employee giving notice with an extended transition period. That's the ideal scenario.

But not every person who leaves a company was looking to leave. It's very common in the tech startup world to approach employees who are happy in their current jobs with an opportunity that is simply better. And then they decide to leave and there is a tricky transition situation.

Mark advises the hiring company to push for the employee to leave quickly. But I have found myself on the opposite side of this situation, in a small startup with a key employee leaving who is being pressured to leave quickly. And of course, in that situation the company who is losing the key person wants them to stay for the longest transition possible.

The problem with the long transition for the key employee is that it often takes two to three months to find a replacement for a key employee. And it is generally not reasonable to ask an employee to stick around for a two to three month transition.

One option is the "battlefield promotion" of someone else on the team to assume the job of the person who is leaving. If you can do that promotion permanently, then it is a good option. If you plan to do the promotion temporarily, it can be problematic. Once promoted, many people bristle at going back to their old role and working for someone new. 

Losing a key employee in a small company is really one of the most difficult situations you'll have to deal with as an entrepreneur/startup executive. One thing I do not recommend is trying to retain the person who is leaving. If they've shown the willingness or desire to leave, you have to let them go. There is no such thing as indentured servitude in startup land and when someone shows that they are mentally out, they should not stick around except to insure a smooth transition.

So to summarize, if you are the employee, it is best to give as much notice as you can comfortably give to your current employer without putting yourself in a vulnerable position. If you are the hiring company, you want to get the new employee onboard as quickly as possible, but don't put the person you are hiring in an awkward and damaging position. And if you are the company losing the employee, get a reasonable transition time, find some way to manage without the person, and don't try to keep them once they've shown a desire to leave.

For all three parties, if you are struggling with this issue, reach out and get advice. You aren't the first person to go through this situation. It happens all the time and others who have lived through it can help you deal. 

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Graham Siener

    I always put myself in the shoes of the old company when trying to bring someone new in — it says a lot about how the “new employee” will behave. If they are eager to screw their old employer it can’t be long before they’ve figured out a way to screw you…

    1. Kevin Vogelsang

      It’s funny how relationships in small companies (and with their investors) are analogous to romantic relationships. Corollary: every relationship we carry on is an extremely beneficial experience, whether it’s a business relationship or not. The same patterns run through people despite different contexts.You could say running a startup boils down to managing the relationships involved.

      1. fredwilson


      2. JLM

        Hmmm, romantic relationship, indeed?Well, I have been screwed a few times but I have never been kissed! LOL

    2. fredwilson

      yes, that’s sort of what i was trying to say but didn’t really

  2. Kevin Vogelsang

    Having a key employee leave is tough in a small startup. But, you’re right, once they show desire to leave, don’t try and keep them. Few people can do great work–the only work you should accept–when they’re mentally checked out.But here’s a question: what do you think should be done if the employee expresses the desire to move on, and then changes his/her mind?On one hand, doubts do come up in startups. It can be a rocky road. But at the same time, personally, I want to work in a band of warriors and nothing else. I think I’d start thinking about finding a replacement. Thoughts?

    1. fredwilson

      there are exceptions. sometimes employees get insecure and think the companyis going to fail or they are going to get fired and they put their resume onthe street. i’ve seen plenty of times that when you give them the facts andcalm them down, they can get back to doing great work.but if it is a healthy company where they are highly valued, and they headfor the door, then i think you have to let them go

  3. scottuhrig

    One of the things one of my former employers did extraordinarily well was to ensure (as much as possible) that all departing employees left on a positive note. Startup communities are small, and word travels quickly. Treat departing employees poorly, and you’ll have trouble hiring new ones.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s so true

    2. Eric Boggs


    3. BrettSF

      Very true, but also for medium and large companies as well. If you don’t trust the employee or if you do and they are not a good performer, then it is fine to show them the door, but do so on as positive note as possible (and pay them a severance of the notice period, within reason).

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Amen. The “word on the street” is a powerful thing and now with social media that “street” has taken on a whole new dimension.

  4. andyswan

    Great post.On the other side of the coin….if you are an employer and are going to let someone go, or if they express a desire to leave, show them the door THAT MOMENT. Tell them to take the rest of the day off and that tomorrow you can exchange sensitive/needed data/equipment for a severance check and maybe an awesome goodbye party if it’s mutual so that your employees can see that you care about the person AND your company culture.There is absolutely no good reason to keep someone around who the rest of the team knows is leaving. He/she will be a cancer to your team, despite even the best of intentions, until gone. It’s just human nature that conversations and thoughts from then on will revolve around that person’s reason for leaving and other opportunities.

    1. Michael Shafrir

      Agree with that, especially for junior employees who have large social networks at the company. No junior employee (0 – 3 years experience) I ever managed needed a full-bore 2 weeks to transition out.

    2. Dave Pinsen

      That’s a good suggestion too.

    3. JLM

      Any time you are handing any employee a severance check (which usually means they were terminated by you), get a complete General Release from them. Get a General Release any time you can.

    4. BrettSF

      Wow, I actually have had completely different experiences with employees that give notice and stick around. On two separate occasions in the past quarter (my company is relatively larger than as small start up) good employees gave generous notice. The 1 – 2 months allowed a smooth transition and transfer of knowledge that actually had real world $ value since at least one project would have been delayed if they were shown the door after giving notice. Plus, you never know when you might want them working with/for you again someday.I know another friend who was shown the door when he gave notice and the reputation of the management team is now well communicated across his/my network. The key here is that if they are good, you trust them, and you care about what they say and a possible future working with them again, DO NOT show them the door when they give notice.

      1. fredwilson

        i agree with Brett here, but there are certainly companies that behave the opposite way

        1. Shurtleff

          Early in my career I worked for a large tech company that had the ‘you give notice you are done approach’, including not letting you go back to your cubicle un-supervised. This was as you might imagine completely stupid. Everyone new this was the deal, so everyone planned accordingly, nothing ‘proprietary- like the company phone book so you could dial your old team mates direct was protected by this scheme…

        2. GlennKelman

          When people are ready to move on at Redfin, we work very hard to help them find the next opportunity. We have a good history of sending people on to places that are better for what they want, and also a good history of welcoming some folks back. We’ve also kept people on during a long transition, at the employee’s request.But we never ask someone to stay longer. Once someone gives notice to the whole company, everyone immediately begins planning around the departing employee. I’ve been through this myself when I moved on from a company after seven years; the employer asked for and got a long transition, but it was a mistake.

  5. disqus_L0EMFF6ctL

    I have to disagree on the employee perspective. I think notifying your employer will not help your cause and could put you at serious risk.As a previous poster mentioned, your employer could show you the door right then and there and then you’re unemployed (which you say makes you less desirable to hire – kinda disagree on this, but probably some truth to that). It’s always harder to find a job when you’re unemployed. The other option is that they set up some kind of transition plan and then you’re basically made irrelevant in a matter of week/months. There’s nothing wrong with that if you find something new, but if not, then you’re basically back in the first scenario.I think a better approach is to job search or interview discretely and be as generous as possible upon leaving so as not to burn bridges. However, in today’s job market, I don’t think employees should be announcing they are going to leave as it exposes them to a lot of risk. And just to be clear about the job market, I know several highly qualified people (ivy leaguers, MBAs, JDs) who lost jobs and have been looking for north of 6 months. Its tough out there. If you have a family or other considerations, I think you want to do everything you can to minimize your risk.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Good points. As De Gaulle said, “The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men”. Doesn’t matter if you’re a great employee. There’s an excellent chance you’d be summarily canned if you announced you were actively looking for another job.

    2. fredwilson

      i mentioned that concern in my post. our firm would not behave that way and I’d hope that our portfolio companies would not either. but you are right to voice the concern. it’s real and valid.

    3. enrolled agent exam

      I totally agree. I think the standard “two weeks’ notice” is an idea that most people, employees and employers alike, are fairly used to. Giving much more notice than that puts the employee at risk to be fired early, or arguably worse, to be put through the ringer for the remainder of their time at the company.

  6. awaldstein

    Great post. Difficult situation for employer and never perfect.If someone is going to leave, make it a quick departure. There is going to be pain but I’m with Andy, that once this is decided, moving on is the best situation.Re: convincing someone to stay once they’ve decided to leave. I’m with you. I’ve never done this and think it is a bad idea.Building teams and iterating them is challenging and essential. There are corner cases to every rule but the culture of the team is always more important than the specific value of one individual. The message to execs is knowing when you have a single point of failure if someone was to bolt and addressing this beforehand.

  7. chipcorrera

    I’ve always told new hires that while I am excited to get them on board and contributing, that I also expect them to take the necessary time to depart the former employer in a very professional manner. I’m hoping to pave the road on the other end of the deal, when folks decide to leave my company.When departing employees are leaving my company, I never use a calendar to determine the actual exit time. Instead, we list the specific transition tasks that need to get completed and when those are done, we can part ways professionally. If that takes 1 day or 3 weeks, so be it. In most cases, when you do the math – it turns out that it is shorter than you imagine. Especially if you’re operating well, even in scrappy startup land.

    1. JLM

      No departing employee will treat you better than they treated their last employer. Ever.

      1. chipcorrera

        That’s nonsense

        1. JLM

          YOU: “I’m hoping to pave the road on the other end of the deal, when folks decide to leave my company.”ME: “No departing employee will treat you better than they treated their last employer.”Are those thoughts greatly different? Nonsense, hmmm?I can only tell you what I have learned through a third of a century of being an employer and thousands of employees. I could be wrong though. I am always learning.

          1. chipcorrera

            They sure are different. I expect to build a constructive relationship with employees, even if things change in the future and either party decides to that it is time to part ways. I expect that my employee will exit professionally and I’ve earned this behavior from the day that we first meet. I’ve succeeded many times with this type of investment and have done so even when some employees have screwed their past employers – because they lacked experience and made mistakes.So your comment is simply not true.

          2. kidmercury

            any thoughts on whose winning this beef between chip correra and JLM? emotionally i’m rooting for JLM, as i think most would agree he is more of a fredland patriot. intellectually, though, i find myself agreeing with chip. though i am tentative about that, and am mainly an observer in this beef, looking to learn from both perspectives.hope others will chime in and share their thoughts.

          3. Laurent Boncenne

            I’d go with Chip.Just for the fact that it’s how I would like to be treated.Taking the chance in someone who has a character flaw -to me proves the guts an employer is willing to put to succeed.

          4. JLM

            Gotta respect that especially when investing other folks money. Who cares about a little old fiduciary duty.Next thing you know, we’ll be hiring a guy to be Sec Treas who can’t operate Turbo Tax and who cheats on his taxes, right? LOL

          5. JLM

            Not to put too fine a point on things but I value character more than most other characteristics amongst those I hire. I think it may be the very first thing I test for.Perhaps our difference is that I would likely not hire a chap who had “screwed” his former employer in the expectation that my professionalism and charming personality would be the necessary ingredient to change his character and behavior. I am not into missionary work.Hope, change, expectations — kind of a dicey lot these days, no?In life we never really get what we “expect”, we get what we “inspect” and therefore when my inspection reveals a bit of a character deficit, I pass.Nice thing about life is both of our views may be good for own purposes. I think mine is a bit simpler and more reliable — for me. But what the heck do I know, really?In the final analysis, I guess I think — why take the chance on a character flaw? Ever?

          6. chipcorrera

            I like the “inspect”/”expect” thingy – has a certain OJ trial ring to it.Don’t get me wrong, I like the squeaky clean parts too. I simply pass the advice on to the incoming guy that they should do the right thing on their exit – because ethics count, and I like to hoist that banner early.Beyond that don’t give up on hope, change and expectations – geez, makes me wanna cry.

          7. JLM

            I often look to the Juice for “cutting edge” business inspiration! LOLOn the hopey, changey stuff — I have not given up, just they are a bit “dicey”. I am hoping for a bit of change myself come November.There will likely be considerable weeping ‘fore it’s all settled.

  8. charlessmith

    If you’re the company losing the employee, make sure you conduct a rigorous exit interview process to determine why the employee is leaving:-is our pay not competitive (total package: salary, stock, benefits)? -were you treated fairly? -can you suggest a replacement? -what other skills should we look for to replace your position? -was our recruiting accurate in terms of your expectations of the company and the job? -get an honest assessment of the employee’s direct supervisor.also, don’t ignore ways to keep the ex-employee as an advocate for you- make sure you’re upfront about any vested options, benefits transitions, etc.

    1. JLM

      This is why you should conduct an annual blind Company Survey, have an annual Performance Appraisal and a written Basis of Employment which is reviewed twice annually.Ask these questions BEFORE they cost you anything and you can correct them.Exit interview = autopsy.

    2. fredwilson

      yes, I am a big fan of exit interviews, as you know charles

  9. JohnLawton

    I think the nature of the separation typically reflects the nature of the employer-employee relationship.I have worked for managers that were very forthcoming on the details of the business and focused on mentoring me to help me succeed. Those are the type of managers who have employees stay when the business hits a rough spot. And those are the type of managers who get every consideration when the employee decides to leave.If a manager does not get every consideration when an employee decides to leave then that manager might want to reflect on their management style.

    1. JLM

      The employer always defines the nature of the relationship. Own that right and do it justice.

    2. fredwilson


  10. Elizabeth

    Interesting article. Curious about one thing: why did you write: ” … or is doing consulting work (which is often the same thing as being unemployed). ? I am a consultant and I’m working fulltime and have been for years. Many other consultants I know are also working full time. Is it your experience that consultants work far less than full time?

    1. Aaron Frank

      I assume he meant consulting more along the lines of freelancing, where save for long-term projects, you have clients come and go, and once projects ends you ship it, move on and have to find new work for yourself. In this situation sometimes its as simple as stopping taking new clients on, wrapping up existing work, and transitioning onto a new job.

    2. JohnLawton

      It is not uncommon for tech people that have been out of work for an extended period to put a current consulting gig (often sporadic and unpaid or underpaid) on their resume to make it look like they are employed. It is unfortunate that some candidates fabricate their experience a bit, but also unfortunate that some employers will not consider an otherwise qualified candidate that is currently out of work.

      1. ShanaC

        That’s terrible, I think it is a very good way for people to build experience….

        1. Yule Heibel

          Re. “…unfortunate that some employers will not consider an otherwise qualified candidate that is currently out of work…” being terrible: yes, it is.How many smart college kids are scrambling for unpaid internships – which, if you apply the same metrics, are just short-hand for “not able to find a real (i.e., paying) job? Would you disqualify someone just because they’ve been interning, vs. working for hard cash?Really, employers should be rewarding (potential) employees for being creative and showing initiative.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Not just scrambling for: in some cases, their parents are paying good money to get them those internships.

      2. fredwilson

        that’s what i meant. i should have been more explicit

  11. Jason

    Well what if you built the whole thing yourself, and need to tell you’ re pilot you’re not where you belong (they so know what’s up, ip agreements in place) while you got paid a consulting job the year before that made what your salary in a fraction of the time. you’re stuck with 0 network and love the people who believed in you this far, and it makes more sense to launch it on your own with a service YOU need? publicly asking what should I do?

    1. JLM

      You are responible for managing your own career. Make goals and go out and accomplish those goals. Deal with all fairly but treat yourself the best of all. Be your own best friend. Make your word better than any contract. Get up early, stay late, spend an hour a day reading about your industry and work hard.

  12. Doug Kersten

    “If you plan to leave the company you are currently working for and are actively searching for a new position, I think it is best to do your search out in the open with the knowledge of your employer.” I don’t think this is necessarily the best advice. Especially in this environment, were it takes 9-12 months to find a new job, if you can find one at all. If you are unable to find the position that you desire, or change your mind and decide it is better to stay where you are, then you have damaged your career and potentially your reputation with your employer. By searching in the open you have reduced your options for no real gain. In fact, more often then not, you will be hurt by it. If you are on a small startup team where everyone knows each other well then this can work. Even then I would be cautious about it. Otherwise it should be avoided.’…doing consulting work (which is often the same thing as being unemployed)’. I believe you mean here that some people will say that they are consultants when they are actually not doing any work (i.e. unemployed). Not that active consultants work is the equivalent of not working at all :)In all cases you should wish your employee well when they move on to a new position and be supportive as possible in the transition. You never know when your paths will cross again in the future.

  13. Adam Neary

    Lots of people say that your company is defined by how you hire. I think it’s define by how you fire. I agree with Fred, not just because it’s his blog/territory, but because no other factor is a better reflection of your core values.If a person wants to leave and you need to “quiet” the person by getting them out instantly, what does that say about your organization? I read below, “There is absolute no good reason to keep someone around…” Here are a couple reasons: 1.) You can transition valuable knowledge. 2.) You show your other employees that you are reasonable in good times and bad. 3.) You show the departing that they are welcome if things don’t work out (you never know–this is a small industry).And on the employee side, the same logic applies. I think that they way you behave when you’re leaving and when you’re letting someone go is where true colors come out, and I think taking risks in favor or doing the right thing works out over time. It has with me.

  14. DGentry

    > One thing I do not recommend is trying to retain the person who is leaving.I agree. I’ve seen it tried many times, and at best it merely delays the inevitable. At worst it turns a formerly productive team member into a cancerous morale problem. Six months seems the usual timeframe for either outcome, from what I’ve seen.If you do manage to convince the person to stay and the opportunity they passed up goes on to great success, the employee will resent you for it.If the opportunity they passed up turns out to be a failure… they keep looking for the next new thing.

  15. Doug Kersten

    Counter-offers are also something to avoid, in my opinion. An employee that has decided to leave and then accepts a counter-offer does so for two reasons. 1.) They wanted a counter offer(i.e. raise) to begin with didn’t have the guts to ask you for it. 2.) They decided to accept for the money, not because they have a true desire to stay. In the first case, if they get their counter-offer, they will follow this path again in the future and it really says a lot of negative things about the employee, who has essentially used the possibility that they will leave as a threat to you and your business. In the second, they will not be 100% checked-in because they will feel that they have been bought and will always ask themselves ‘what if…’ and you as an employer will start questioning their commitment, even if not in the open, and this will negatively impact your relationship.From an employee standpoint, you should only say you are leaving a position if you actually mean it and then you should always follow through on it. If you have gotten to the point when you have accepted a new position then it is because you have found your current position lacking in some way. At this point, an employer has already lost their opportunity to resolve the issue.In any case, the departing employee should be congratulated and treated with respect. Also, the departing employee should give 150% until their very last day to ensure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible for the employer. This shows respect, maturity, and a positive attitude on both sides and leaves open the potential for a positive relationship in the future.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      “1.) They wanted a counter offer(i.e. raise) to begin with didn’t have the guts to ask you for it.”Let’s say this was the case. Does this make the person a bad employee? A lot of employees walk on egg shells when they don’t have a lot of savings and know how tough it is to get another job in a bad economy.

      1. Doug Kersten

        Yes. They are attempting to take the easy way out by bribing the company to get a raise instead of earning it. Good employees are confident about their abilities and will ask for a raise when they feel they deserve it. Bad companies will ignore them and they will leave. Good companies will compensate them, if they deserve it, and they will stay. If an employee feels the only way that they will get a raise is to do this, and they are a good employee, then they are working for a bad company and should leave. Back to my original point, if you are an employee and say you are going to do it, then do it. You are better off in the long run.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          What’s missing from your analysis is that there are plenty of good employees working in suboptimal companies where their abilities aren’t always rewarded and they risk getting canned for rocking the boat. Having another offer in hand before asking for a raise in that case is a matter of self-preservation, not “bribery”. What’s also missing from your analysis is that there are plenty of good employees who continue to work in suboptimal workplaces because they can’t afford to leave.

          1. Doug Kersten

            Why wouldn’t you just take the other offer if the place is so bad that they will fire you for asking for a raise? Your second point is correct but again, why wouldn’t they just leave if they found a better position? Bribery is ‘an act implying money or gift given that alters the behavior of the recipient. – Wikipedia’. Fits this scenario perfectly.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            “Why wouldn’t you just take the other offer if the place is so bad that they will fire you for asking for a raise?”That’s a good question. Perhaps because you aren’t sure that they will fire you for asking, but don’t want to take the risk of asking without a fallback? The way I might handle it as the employee in that case might be to ask for the raise without letting my current employer know I had another offer.Still don’t see how bribery is an appropriate term here. Most employees won’t show up if they aren’t getting paid. Does that mean all paychecks are bribes?

          3. Doug Kersten

            That’s definitely how I would do it if I felt the need.You got me on that one. I guess, strictly speaking we are all being bribed. lol!The difference might be that bribery is you will pay me or I will do this (to your detriment), while a job is I will do this and you will pay me. Consultants and companies will be paid first and then do something for you but it is usually to your benefit.Come to think of it, using this definition, the government is bribing us!!! You will pay your taxes to us on April 15 or we will put you in jail.

    2. JLM

      If you do not have employees who are CONSTANTLY demanding more compensation — because the company is making money, they have achieved their personal objectives and because they want more responsibility — you have not hired the right folks.Thoroughbreds want to run, run hard, compete and win. If you hire a guy you want to engage with and destroy the competition how can you object when he comes to you and asks for a piece of the pie.Grow the pie and keep handing out slices. Hire killers and let them do their thing. Reward them when the heads are delivered to the taxidermist.Every employee should come to work ready to bite the ass off a grizzly bear every day. You must feed that appetite.

    3. fredwilson

      yes, that’s what i was saying but i should have explicitly mentioned counter offers

  16. msuster

    It’s funny but I hadn’t thought of the post from the opposite perspective but I always try to protect against that as an employer. Even now as a VC. I went to our analyst, who’s a star, and said the following (which is a version of what I’ve told many employees at my startups):- I want to talk about your future. We’re very happy with you. Many VCs want their analysts to get an MBA. We don’t require that. Wanted you to know that up front as you think about your career- If you do decide to get an MBA -please let me know as early as you feel comfortable. First, I can help you with your applications. I’d obviously give a strong recommendation. Second, the more notice you give me, the longer I have to find somebody.- (importantly – this is the most important thing about your post to me) – If you announce you’re leaving I promise to transition you in your time frames. It’s important to me because it gives me time to plan. If you help me with that then I promise not to impact you for being transparent- and by the way, if you want to go to a startup, that would be more valuable than an MBA anyways 😉

    1. Scott Barnett

      a GREAT way to treat your employees… communication is golden.

    2. Eric Boggs

      Well said.Speaking from experience as a young/early start-up employee, the MBA is the perfect escape hatch if you know you’re ready to move on and there aren’t many appealing start-up options in your neighborhood as an early employee…or in your head as a founder/co-founder.I gave 6 months “notice”, applied to many schools, and got into several, thanks in part to (presumably) glowing recommendations from the co-founders I worked for. I graduated from UNC Kenan-Flagler in May 2009 and dove right back into a start-up.PS – When it comes to starting companies, the MBA “education” isn’t nearly as valuable as the MBA network.

      1. JLM

        As a diehard Heels fan all I can observe is that when you went to Carolina, they won the NCAA basketball championship and when you left the team was destroyed — mercy killing by those Dookies last Saturday.I hope this doesn’t have to get ugly. LOL

        1. Eric Boggs

          I grew up a Heels fan and attended Carolina for undergrad and grad school. My senior year was the 8-20 disaster led by the coach who shall not be named…and my 2nd year of grad school we won a National Championship. So I’ve seen both sides of the coin. :)I hate to say it, but I hope that GaTech puts us out of our misery tomorrow night.

          1. JLM

            Damn, I just put all my kids’ trust funds on the Heels running the table, think I might have to reconsider?My wife (from W-S) went to undergrad and law school there as did about 250 family members. I love NC. Spend a lot of time in Wrightsville Beach and Cashiers and Highlands.I am physically ill from this year’s team. I am mentally ill. I have a spirit deficit.Oh, well, football (Longhorns) starts in a few months.

    3. fredwilson

      i probably should have written the entire post about that second to last bullet in your comment. it is so important in terms of buying loyalty and buying yourself time when a change is coming

      1. iamronen

        Hello Fred,I read both your post and Mark’s yesterday. Your post was softer-spoken, and I really didn’t like Mark’s. The entire subject is beyond me since I don’t have any intention of personally being in any of these three positions in the lifetime. But I really didn’t like Mark’s post – it felt wrong and so it stayed with me and was first thing on my mind this morning. Then I saw Mark’s link back to his comment on this post and then your response – and a fresh perspective came to me and sorted out my dislikes, made this all a valuable lesson (for me at least).Mark’s post is not about quitting a job or transitioning between jobs. It’s a clear and focused strategy to steal high-profile employees that he wants on board. I respect that greatly. His perspective is tight and consistent with that objective. Everything he thinks and says is in line with his objective – which makes him of high integrity. He describes an aggressive move to achieve his objective. I respect that very much and I would expect nothing less.But I also picked up a sense of violence in his writing. At first I thought that it was violent because it was inconsiderate of the other party (company losing an employee) – but then you addressed that and then Mark did too in his comment. Still something felt wrong. Then your response pointed it out to me.I don’t buy that you believe what you said about “buying loyalty and buying yourself time”: – Loyalty can’t be bought, it can appear instantly and it can grow slowly over time…. but it can’t be bought… if it can be bought you can be pretty sure it’s not loyalty. – Time is even less reponsive to currency of any kind then loyalty. I believe we will always be given the time we need… we may not like it (thinking it’s too little or sometimes too long) but that’s all there ever will be.I also don’t want to buy what Mark said in a comment on his post “tell them you love them… ask for transparency…. promise integrity… prove this through your daily action”: – Don’t tell them that you love them. Love them! – Don’t as for transparency. Be transparent. – Don’t promise integrity. Be compassionately consistent. – Don’t prove anything in your daily action. Do what you do with sincerity, integrity, transparency and love.My take away from consuming this interaction: – Be aggressive – push (… for the things you want (and be open to making marvelous mistakes:… – Be considerate and compassionate towards others and your surroundings. – Don’t explain yourself – anything you say will fall short of your internal vision. Explaining yourself will always be a compromise of what you know … and ultimately a let down.The violence I experienced was not Mark’s aggressive position but when Mark (and then you) compromised yourselves ever-so-slightly for the sake of argument… it was self inflicted violence towards good ideas … and then the echoes of that rippling outward: – Mark can’t say if a new position is better for someone – only an employee will be able to say anything about that… and only after actually being in the new position (and that too may change over time). – Sugar coating like “I’m leaving for personal reasons” is a dishonesty that creates the very friction it’s trying to avoid – if the other party cares about at all – it demands clarification … when it’s atually a lie. “I’m leaving because I want to and because I am taking a position I believe will be better for me” (NEVER define better – that is a deadly trap!) – that is the truth and it is at least as indisputable as the “personal reasons” lie. – .. and so on…Now I’ve cleared my head of this issue and can resume my life :)All Things GoodRonen

        1. Mark Essel

          You are going deeper than Mark or Fred. I appreciate it, but don’t overthink the messenger. It’s from the perspective of VCs who desire as much harmony as they can achieve in their portfolio. Startups are subject to so many other disruptive forces that creating a form of “startup ethics” can help founders and employees have wiser expectations (startups code of conduct).Wonderful comment, thanks.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        You guys must be among the most magnanimous employers on the planet with the most evolved employees. How I wish that what you are representing was the rule and not the exception. If an employee “gives notice”, in many instances he/she must be prepared to leave at any point after that no matter how strong a relationship with the employer. And he/she would need to be exceptionally trustworthy for an employer to want to keep the person around as he/she seeks a job with a competitor. Yes, it can happen as you’ve described it. But, it just doesn’t seem to be the norm. Maybe you’ll start a new trend. It does seem that an employer takes much more kindly to someone returning to school or otherwise leaving the workforce.

    4. bmconry

      I agree with you, even in today’s environment. Unless you have a spiteful employer, the more open you are with her/him, the more reciprocal the relationship. If trust issues start to creep in, the damage can be irreversible and contagious – and the company ultimately suffers. It’s even worse at a start-up where you spend more time with your partners and co-workers that you do with your family!I found myself in a similar position to Eric (below). When I was applying to business schools, I gave four months notice and helped my company with every stage of the transition. We had been working together for seven years and I felt that couldn’t just leave. In turn, the management team developed a transition around my time table.And, as I finish up my two years, I have to echo the higher value of the MBA network over the academics (with entrepreneurship)! 🙂

  17. Nigel

    Fred – several posters have commented on your remark that employers will “want” to hire people who are currently employed. Why in your view should employers pay more to recruiters, get into salary bidding wars for those currently employed, search longer, and endure more difficult transitions when there are millions of highly qualified people out of work? What makes those people so undesirable in your view?Reminds me of an Eddie Murphy joke where he asks his girlfriend when she gets home if anyone tried to hit on her. When she says no, he dumps her, as he doesn’t want someone no one else wants.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t mean to disparage or in any way denigrate out of work people. it’s a tough time out there and i feel terrible that so many people are out of work. but in my experience the very best people at a specific job are rarely out of work

      1. Farhan Lalji

        People might have left of their own accord and tried to do something entrepreneurial which finds them available for work as well. Situations can totally happen – said the guy who’s leaving a comfy job to start something.

  18. Scott Barnett

    Fred, you should reconsider your suggestion that an employee tell his employer he’s looking – that requires a significant amount of trust in the relationship you have with your manager/company, and you better feel awfully strong about it because the consequences could be major. And (with no scientific data to back it up) I have to believe a large majority of people who are looking to leave would place “trust in the company” to be high on the reason list. It doesn’t mean the people itself aren’t trustworthy, simply that the situation has gotten to a point where it’s hard to see success/career path/etc.Also, a colleague had told me once that a person they held in high regard and was planning to promote was caught in a very stressful (personal) situation with my friend and he was appalled by their reaction – he had not seen this person under duress and after doing so thought twice about promoting them. My point being that you don’t know how your seemingly laid back and super-friendly boss is going to take it when you tell him you’re leaving, especially if it’s a startup and the impact could be tremendous.I do like that you represented the departing employers point of view to contrast Mark’s post – this clearly does have three sides to it, and as I replied on Mark’s blog, everybody has their own best interests in mind. Keeping that in mind will help everyone make the best decision.

    1. fredwilson

      this is a consistent theme in this thread. it’s unfortunate because i don’t think its the right way for the employer to behave, but it’s clearly a risk

  19. laude05

    You touched on promoting from within. This should be your first choice! If you are not grooming the next level for promotion, your not doing your job either. Also your comment about hiring someone who is working over someone who is unemployed has been outdated for at least 2 years with the mass layoffs (firings?) a lot of great people are out of work through no fault of their own except being focused on their tasks and not on looking for the next job.

  20. robertavila

    In the case of startups, is there not also a question of when is it time for individuals to move on? The ideal individual at an early one stage may not be the greatest fit when things are up and running. Who and what is needed when complicates the whole question of holding on and letting go.

    1. Eric Boggs

      Yep – I experienced this first hand.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Herein lies one of the most significant recruiting challenges for startups — bridging the gap between present and future needs. Sometimes you can hire the person that will bridge that gap — in other cases, the person you hire at one stage will not be the right fit at another. However, if you hire really smart people that fit the culture, you have a better chance of re-deploying them to another role as the company grows. One client said that if he started a completely different company in a completely different industry, he could take most of his current team with him — because he hired for smarts, personality, passion and dedication (and this is what he valued).

  21. ShanaC

    I’m just watching this. I think this is all awkward when you are new on the market, as someone who is applying for jobs right now. No where is anyone talking about what makes for a “good employee” (except for that one Albert Post)

  22. Gorilla

    If one of my employees came to me and told me they were looking for a new job, I would ask them to tell me what they don’t like about their current position and see if some changes could be made to help them fit better (if it was someone I wanted to keep). If it was not a valuable person, I would fire them immediately.If you are not “all in,” then you are out.If an employee told me they were leaving for business school or other graduate school I would help them with advice about which schools, recommendations, etc. and help them with transition.I left a job to go to b-school about 10 years ago and my employer was pretty cool about it. I worked hard until the very end and still have nothing but good things to say about my boss at that time.

    1. JLM

      Gorilla, EVERY employee is a valuable PERSON.You may need another semester of charm school or at least a refresher. I am only telling you that because I love you, Dude.

  23. JLM

    Very interesting topic, Fred, as always.I have had thousands of employees and have been in business for a significant chunk of a century. In that time period, I have lost only one employee that I wanted to keep — whip smart UT MBA left to start his own company. Lovely, delightful person who completely disarmed me by saying — “Jeff, I just want to be like you, master of my own destiny.”Here are some things I have learned:Take the time to hire the very best people you can. If you are an 8, hire 10s. If you are a 10, hire 11s. Don’t be afraid to hire someone who can do your job. Challenge yourself.Develop a written detailed “Basis of Employment” for all your critical hires and therein spell out many of the issues which have been outlined in this discussion — get the notice and transition periods agreed before they ever come to work. Ask for and get agreement as it relates to every possible detail. A handshake and a face to face commitment is more important than signing in blood —though I do like the drama of signing in blood. Do it right once in your hiring career and then work off the exemplar. If you are lazy, I will send you what I use.NOTE: You are not creating a contractual employment relationship, you are simply defining the nature of your “at will” relationship if that is the law in your state.Stay in touch w/ your employees — have a Performance Appraisal system (again, develop a great exemplar and use it) and look at their BOE w/ them twice a year. If you are lazy, I will send you one.Conduct an annual blind Company Survey and ask the tough questions you really want to know the answers to — “What do I not know that you think I should know? If you were CEO what would you do that I am not doing?” Publish the results and then have a company meeting to discuss them w/ everyone. If you are lazy, I will send you one.Spend a bit of quality business time w/ your folks. Feed them and answer their questions about anything. You own their problems. Take them along on a meeting they might otherwise not go to and let them talk and shine. Show them that you respect them. Listen to them. Coach them. Put a value add into the relationship that is better than just being an employee. Reward them with small trophies (bust of an eagle, a $100 bill under tombstone plastic) — the equivalent of medals in the military.Have a formal written succession plan. Be prepared to lose any individual and have to immediately replace them — including you.Be large, generous and magnanimous in your dealings w/ all employees. Know their middle names. In any confrontation, take the high road, let them know you are above any pettiness and then live it. You really have no choice and it will confound them.Employment relationships are just as complex as marital relationships. Forget your anniversary at your great peril.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      “Conduct an annual blind Company Survey and ask the tough questions you really want to know the answers to — “What do I not know that you think I should know? If you were CEO what would you do that I am not doing?”That sounds like such a good idea that I wonder why more companies aren’t doing it.

      1. JLM

        Little companies are too busy and are struggling for survival.Big company CEOs don’t really want to know or care. They only care what the Board thinks.It is the leadership equivalent of getting a prostate exam — a bit awkward from any perspective but just might save your damn life!I never fail to learn something very, very, very interesting. Last year, an accounting person opined that they could not believe I did not close down a particular money losing unit — the next day I did. I literally had “blind spot” and they helped me see it.Many of the things I advocate (Company Surveys, Basis of Employment docs, Performance Appraisal, employee interview questions and checklist) are things that if you get them done right once you can use them forever and ever.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Whenever a company intends to make a significant hire — and I am thinking of smaller companies — this is a great opportunity to do something like the blind company survey. So many poor hires come as a result of poor self-knowledge as a company rather than any overt intentional misrepresentation. Why do not more CEOs have a clear view of their company’s culture when they have a perfect source of information right under their noses — their employees.

    3. paramendra

      This comment is a blog post in its own right. 🙂

      1. fredwilson

        Most of his are

  24. ErikSchwartz

    “There is no such thing as indentured servitude in startup land and when someone shows that they are mentally out, they should not stick around except to insure a smooth transition.”There are some less valuable board members in the world who disagree with this.Company is out of money and they want to team to keep working but they’re unwilling to pony up cash or make ownership concessions.This is another reason why dumb money is not worth taking.

    1. JLM

      Money is money. It is a commodity. Neither fall in love with nor get mad at MONEY.I admit to liking just a dollop of mustard on the money by which I mean I would like to get some “added value” from the sponsor of the money but all things being equal, I would never turn my nose up at “dumb” money.Like all money — get more than you think you will ever need. This is a very, very difficult well to go back to. And the second trip, even to the money buffet, is always more expensive than the first.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        Here’s the rub.If you’re putting together a syndicate everyone in the round will have the same valuation and the same rights irregardless of how much value they bring other than their ban account. If you pad a round with dumb money you will overpay for it and can get screwed over when the dumb money does dumb things.

        1. JLM

          Of course you are absolutely correct and I agree completely. I was making a broad, slightly sophomoric and glib generalization which was not sensitive to the realities of how dumb money actually plays well or not so well with others.Where I have had dumb money fall into my lap it has usually been in very large quantities and did not participate with other sources.

  25. Operating Guy

    Fred, when have you ever worked at a non investment position? I’m not sure you are ideally situated to be giving out this advice… The investment world, HF’s VC’s , Banking is totally different than the operating world. I’m not sure you can draw the same conclsions.

    1. fredwilson

      never. i’m simply talking about what i have seen work and not work in almost 25 years working with entrepreneurs and managers.

  26. Carol Freeman

    Although I found this post interesting I disagree in some points.First of all, being a consultant or freelancer doesn’t make someone unemployed. Second, with the economy being as bad as it is nowadays, it seems shortsighted to disqualify unemployed candidates. There are a million different reasons as to why someone loses their job. Some of these reasons could have nothing to do with their potential and value as possible candidates.Third, coming out in the open about looking for a new job just benefits the company you’re trying to get away from, not you. On the contrary, this advanced notice puts the employee on a very unstable and vulnerable position.I strongly feel this post was written to the solely benefit of BigCo.

    1. Nigel

      I agree, Carol. The underlying intent, that all parties should treat each other well with an eye to the future, is great, but not always realistic for the employee to implement as described. Its common for execs (and maybe, per “Operating Guy”, hedge fund and VC people) to negotiate a departure, but uncommon for “average” employees.Your points on consultants etc are equally well taken. While the thrust of Fred’s post was elsewhere, it would still be nice to see him address that broadside.

      1. fredwilson

        a lot of people take consulting gigs while they are looking for full time employment. that’s all i was saying

    2. fredwilson

      i don’t work in a big company or invest in big companies so there is no reason why i would want to benefit them

  27. hypermark

    Two comments. One, I would never expect an employee to tell me up front that they are planning to leave UNLESS I specifically communicated a protocol for how we will handle such cases. After all, it’s a crappy economy, and you can’t expect people to put themselves at financial risk purely on the unspoken assumption that you will “do the right thing,” as there is no one right approach that is universally applied (depends upon employee, their maturity level, desire for win-win outcome, etc.)Secondly, I have found that, especially in early stage companies, when you as the employer do part ways with an employee it is important to be more generous than not on severance and the like. Why? The employees that stay behind will look at how the separation is handled, and see it as what THEY can expect if in a similar situation in the future.What you sow is what you reap in such a case.

  28. Matt A. Myers

    A lot of great information in here. So thanks to all.Perhaps this is the wrong place to ask but I’m wanting to hire someone who’s done some work but he wants to continue with his own projects on the side. The current employer he has allows him to do so, but the projects aren’t related except for the side project they allowed him to do.He’s been privy to a lot of information and ideas with companies he’s worked for so likely why he wants to maintain his own projects. He’s highly motivated to make money and to do well, and has passion for design. I’m just worried he’ll just learn from my ideas and apply them to his own projects. I don’t know if there’s a way to protect against this (while being able to allow him to work on his own project). I don’t currently know what his projects are.Also, I want to stay the sole founder. But I do want someone in-house though as I don’t want to prematurely expose ideas before everything is in place. I’ll admit I’m always weary that a big fish will attempt to duplicate. When I think about it I don’t see them executing it as well but it pisses me off…I’d truly appreciate any opinions or thoughts.Thanks,MattP.S. Fred, I have some photos that were taken with you, myself and Ryan Carson in them from FOWA if you want me to send them.

    1. kidmercury

      people are going to take your ideas, and a lot more. if they’re good, that is.i don’t think you can stop it. there is one clown i was working with who started a copycat web site of mine, literally the whole thing is copied, even parts he disagreed with me on once his stupid ass left and started doing it on his own he realized i was right and then he copied me. loli take it as a compliment.also i think startups should focus more on creating value first, then worrying about protecting it later. first there needs to be something of value to protect.just my $.02 of course

      1. paramendra

        Dude, I just now found out you are Indian like me (clicked over to your blog). Hello. But I still don’t believe 9/11 was an inside job. 🙂

        1. kidmercury

          it is easy to say what you DON’T believe….but what DO you believe happened on 9/11? feel free to provide evidence. you are a smart person, i’m sure you will reach the obvious conclusions if you do your research. the only question is whether or not you are psychologically willing to accept the facts you come across.

          1. paramendra

            I buy into the official version of the story, but I do respect there is a legitimate ultra end of the political spectrum. And the conspiracy theorists need not be taken literally, but they are sending important signals as to how much distrust there exists of the federal government.

          2. kidmercury

            What is the official version that you believe? FBI Chief of Investigative Publicity Rex Tomb is on record as saying there is no hard evidence suggesting bin laden was on involved in 9/11 (see for links to where Tomb said this). There has never been a criminal investigation into 9/11. The 9/11 Commission explicitly states it is not a criminal investigation, but rather a panel to study how to prevent another attack.

          3. paramendra

            Kid. We will have to rest this topic. I respect your zeal for your opinion, I really do. I think Al Qaeda did 9/11. But the reason you think it was an inside job is because you inhabit the ultra left end of the political spectrum, and the entire establishment is suspect to you. I am more of a centrist, a pragmatist trying to put as much idealism as possible on my plate.

          4. kidmercury

            Al qaeda is run by the CIA. I am not right or left. I am educated, and respectful of the truth.

          5. paramendra

            Everything you say is protected by free speech, and salom to a fellow Indian, and 9/11, tragic as it was, was not the Holocaust, but I am going to lay it down bluntly, Kid, those who suggest 9/11 was an inside job sound like the Holocaust deniers to me. Denying the Holocaust is still protected by free speech, but hate speech is offensive and needs to be socially outcast.

          6. kidmercury

            paramendra, i have already provided ample evidence to support my 9/11views. you are not able to counter any of them. not because you aredeficient in any way (you seem very intelligent) but because no onecan beat the truth.instead of making irrelevant, rude, and irresponsible connections tothe holocaust, why don’t you simply tell me what you think happened on9/11, and then i can easily debunk whatever it is you are going to say(unless you decide to tell the truth).for the thousandth time:

          7. paramendra

            “you are a smart person”Bill O’Reilly said to Al Sharpton, “You are a brilliant man,” and Sharpton said, “I am not going to dispute that!”I don’t want to steal Sharpton’s line from him, so let me take a moment and decide how to respond to your compliment. 🙂

      2. Matt A. Myers

        @paramendra @kidmercury – I’m glad you found each other on my post. 😉

  29. Laughing at Fred

    Out of touch, this article is out of touch with reality…I would agree with operating guy, much of what you write Fred smells of child of privilege finance guy….Are you crazy, tell your boss that you want a new job…. EARTH TO FRED, in the real world, guess what happens next………… You get fired, its nice to think of a Utopian society but thats just not the reality………Next you will tell me that only unskilled, low value workers get fired…… You are in a dreamland with all the other hedge fund managers out there,get a job where you DO SOMETHING, not just passively watch others, analyze others……. I strongly rec anybody thinking of leaving there job do it with as much secrecy as possible….Give notice, try to be accommodating, but don’t tell them

    1. fredwilson

      laugh all you want. that’s fine. you won’t be the first person to laugh at me or the last.and i’m not a hedge fund manager

      1. Laughing at Fred

        Venture Capitalist = Hedge Fund Manager…. both just trace index returns…. you want Venture returns invest in microcap Index, you want large cap returns invest in the DOW index….

        1. fredwilson

          that’s bullshit. our returns are not “index” in any way. you can see them onthe public internet because of FOIA.

          1. Laughing at Fred

            I call bullshit on you Fred, numbers can say anything you want…….

          2. Farhan Lalji

            I think you should save your anonymous comments for TechCrunch.

          3. Laughing at Fred

            what is the relevance of my identity to the conversation, judge my thoughts and ideas…. who I am is of no relevance… pretend I am Warren Buffet if you need to think of someone…

          4. Farhan Lalji

            Identity is totally relevant it helps frame and value the quality of the response. Without identity you’re seen as a troll.

          5. paramendra

            Create a Disqus profile, it is easy to do. Link it to your blog if you have one, or your Twitter account. Identity matters. You will be taken more seriously if you are not anonymous.You are not Warren Buffet any more than Dan Quayle is/was JFK.

          6. kidmercury

            hahahhaa great comment farhanlalji!!! thanks for the morning chuckle. 😀

    2. paramendra

      VCs don’t just “analyze.” The good ones actively nurture the companies they invest in. If you run your own firm, your VC firm, and you have actively participated in the growth of many stellar companies, I think you are perfectly qualified to speak on the topic, I dare say supremely qualified. Especially when you paint a picture of how things should be done, but also leave room for the possibility that giving notice to your employer that you are leaving is actually a bad idea.”I think you should save your anonymous comments for TechCrunch.” Agreed. A lot of commenters at this blog “know” each other just from having met here and nowhere else. It is perfectly okay to disagree with Fred and others here, and we do it all the time, but when you tiptoe into slander territory, you are going to experience some pointer comments.But your point is taken. Sometimes how it works is you tell your boss you might be leaving, and instead of a smooth transition, you get the door. That also happens.

  30. ShanaC

    There is a huge amount of in here- I have figured out that from the beginning to the end of the hiring process and the employment process you should be vested in regularly interested in communicating both your needs and the needs of the company. These sometimes overlap, sometimes don’t and it is everyone at the table’s job to figure out how they do or don’t overlap.Nuff said. Now just the best ways to communicate those issues.

  31. Paul Sanwald

    Hmm, the original post on Mark’s blog really rubs me the wrong way. Tell your employer they should be glad to get 2 weeks, as the new company is pressuring you to give one?Also, I like to take a week off in between jobs and I don’t think I’d want to work anywhere that wasn’t ok with this. Hiring is a highly variable process and a week is usually nothing. I can understand wanting folks to start right away but begrudging someone a week just seems petty to me.

  32. Parand

    “consulting work (which is often the same thing as being unemployed)”I think you’re being unnecessarily harsh on consultants. Of the people I’d like to hire right now, 3 are currently consulting because they can make more money in less time than a day job, and have the freedom to do their own projects. I appreciate their willingness to take a risk and their ability to manage their own time.

  33. ksrikrishna

    Fred, thanks for bringing up a great topic and sharing your own insight into it. Balancing the needs of the 3 parties in a hiring situation is hard. And then there is a whole cultural dimension to this when you look at a rapidly changing workplace such as India. Just recently I did a piece for the Wall Street Journal – “My father in law wants me to work for an MNC” and other fables addressing this issue – the desire for the hiring manager to bring on board the new hire asap and the fear of retribution at the present employer causes hugely strange behavior, particularly among younger employees. I’ve found trying to be a considerate person is the best course (it helps that I am over 40 :-). Keep up the great work.

  34. gregg grossman

    A couple of thoughts -From a practical standpoint, as a recruiter, if a potential candidate tells me his / her employer knows their leaving the company it’s a red flag – I immediately wonder if the person is being fired. And … regardless of the economy being fired is never a resume highlight. In the best case, for the candidate, I’ll take an extra close look at the circumstances and sometimes myself and the client simply end up with a nagging feeling we don’t have the whole story and pass on the candidate.With regard to transition – I couldn’t agree more that the deal is most vulnerable right after it closes. And … in most cases it’s a tough time for the candidate, having to “serve two masters” – the old boss and the new one. In my experience 30 days notice is about the max and most people recruited to join the senior management team of company will attend a few meetings at the new company during that time. I believe getting your new hire involved quickly is critical.One great tactic a client a few years back used to lock new hires in was to start paying them once they signed the offer letter – in the end it wasn’t a lot of money and the person was thrilled since it was such an unusual gesture. Maybe not in most startups’ budget but I thought worth mentioning.

  35. jeffsilbert

    Fred, curious your thoughts on how your portfolio firms particularly in the area of sales scale the team. What is the breakdown between social networking/networking vs recruiters(contingency/retained) in terms of % of hires and also track record looking back in hindsight on performance. Could be a separate blog (I have read the one on Social Recruiting)

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t know the answer to that but i will try to find it out

  36. Grant C.

    Out of a few hundred people I’ve hired over the years, I’ve never had an issue with someone who needed to take say 4 weeks to join instead of 2 then later recanting (and if they had, was that really going to be a good hire… “Quick, get in the van!”). Yes it requires more patience on my inbound side of the equation, but I frankly like to see people who are rabid about their commitments. It will work the same way on the outbound side. People who are transactional with their current employer will some day be transactional with you.Now, I realize the people who will do this are few and far between and, unsurprisingly, I’m one of them myself. So I’m biased. But when someone wants extra time to close to transition more methodically, I don’t see it as a negative. I see someone who might just be holding themselves to a higher standard, not someone looking at the mean and finding sufficiency. I don’t warrant that this is the canonically right way to do things–but, it is worth looking at from a different side of the transaction… and maybe not even transactionally.A friend who had an affair with a married woman. They later got married themselves. Yeah, yeah, we all know the punchline…

  37. Lance Puig

    Great post! Both employer and employee can learn a lot from this.

  38. Donna Brewington White

    Some really juicy posts lately, Fred. Maybe it’s the coat.

  39. bcd

    I agree with many of the posts that your take on how an employer will react is rather idealistic, and in particular in this economy – so the person who is taking the risk the most is the employee, the one who could lose their salary is the one taking the most risk. Note: quite agree the only decent thing to do is not outright abandon an employer that has been decent to you. Perhaps I am being unfair, but I also note a hint of rather old school bias against or if you prefer – to be suspicious of someone who is not currently employed and I read the comment re consulting as rather snarky to be honest. And it is kind of scandalous in this economy. I very much appreciate the open way in which you share your experiences in your blog, and have learned many , many interesting things in reading it- However, I have to admit to being a little disappointed in some of the things I read in this particular post. If anything perhaps you should take more into account the rarity and uniqueness of your point of you if the other comments are any indication.

  40. Mark Essel

    I think I can summarize your and Mark’s posts:Mark Suster: be selfishFred: don’t be a douche

  41. joshkramer

    Fred – After reading 110+ comments I hope this isn’t a me-too post but I do feel the point needs to be reinforced and refined…As a daily reader sincere due respect and in a very small shop the family atmosphere and the sheer lifeline created by every team member both suggest your model might be the right one. In a setting larger than 15 or so people I would say notifying your employer and working on a transition plan is great if you have a locked-in near-zero-risk scenario (MBA, etc as mentioned) where you have somewhere to go, you know when you are going, and you know a sudden change in your timeline won’t put you in harms way (if your employer decides they don’t need you as long as you thought they might to transition, etc). If you are starting a search because you decided to move on or because you have a sense that layoffs are coming, etc, the unfortunate reality is that while I would love the heads-up as an employer it’s simply not practical for the employee to give us the desired degree of notice mainly because the duration of their search is not within their control (including if they will be successful at all) and so notifying their current employer (us) adds a level of risk to their search which isn’t required in normal corporate culture (giving standard 2-3 wks notice is an accepted practice). Perhaps I am tainted since several years ago I followed your suggested model when I was as a key employee and I was then in a point-of-no-return situation and needed to constantly report status on my search to my CEO – not a great place to be in unless you have a very good idea of where you are going and when. Today as a CEO I expect my key reports to be honest about whats working and not working for them in our environment and I view it as my job to fix whats broken or assume they are out on the market. It keeps us all honest and ensures everyone does their best to be successful (at least, I hope thats true). I also find that when a key employee is leaving managing messaging and a fast transition are the most important goals – a lingering dead (wo)man walking is typically bad for morale and doesn’t do much to ensure a smooth transition. The fact is people talk so even if the plan is not public, it doesn’t stay that way very long. My two cents.

    1. fredwilson

      great comment josh. thanks

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Very, very well said. Thank you.

  42. GraemeHein

    I’ve worked in a variety of global firms and some small situations. The only times when people worked out any sort of notice period was when they were going back to school, be it MBA or interns. Anyone in a real job got or gave 0 days notice. If you were leaving, you got everything together before giving notice. I’ve seen people work out the day as supervisors were in meetings and wanted to talk, but that’s the only time people didn’t immediately leave the building after giving or getting notice. If you were asked to leave, you might be allowed an escort to box up some things, otherwise it was a physical escort outside with a promise to courier personal effects.The only time I’d be comfortable giving notice that I was looking for a job is if I had an explicit contract. Fred’s expectations are nice, but not something that anyone can expect to be honored when it’s their job on the line.As to using offers as negotiating tactics – in many places the only way to get a raise or a promotion is to have an offer on the table. Large companies are truly horrible about this – the only way to get a raise outside of some small % is to be an outside hire. This requirement affects behavior in other firms, and those disgusted by it seem selfish and deluded. This is especially true in light of the very low levels of compensation in startups, which currently have little to no expectations of improvement thanks to low acquisition valuations.Exit interviews ideally could be useful. In reality they are of no value as both parties are concerned with possible liability that honest questions or answers could create.

  43. paramendra

    Sam Walton hired away from other companies all the time.

  44. gorbachev

    What I’ve learned over the years that loyalty isn’t worth a dime when employers are downscaling. The bigger the company the more true this is. An employee who’s loyal towards an employer (not be confused to people working at the employer) is a sucker.I view the employee/employer relationship as strictly business. When it stops being beneficial to me, I will end it and loyalty doesn’t come into play at all. After all, that’s really how employers are looking at it as well. Why would I view it any different?

  45. nemra

    Don’t know how it goes for a big companies, I was always in startups, but the strategy was to make an environment such that employee (especially important ones and stars) would not even think about looking for other job possibilities. It is really about making the workplace exciting and having people feel the importance of what they do (it sure requires a specific type of “startup” people, but it is so fun to work in such teams).So if employee tells me that they want to leave, it means they already made a decision and actually it is best to keep a good connection with them and let them go, only requiring 1-2 weeks for finalizing their activities (i even have a case with the next day leave, because we just had a release, and didn’t even started to discuss and define next tasks for that person, so it was good for employee to start his work for another company as soon as possible and we let him go).The point is to “fight” for best people before they made a decision to leave, which should be a priority for employer, but keeping the transition process easy for all parties and leave the door open for the other case (at least you both did something good for each other and even if you will not have opportunity to work together another time, it is always good to know that you might)!

  46. Anonymous

    As someone who had tried exactly this, I would say it definitely is too much of a risk for the employee. Even the nicest of employers who seem like good people will act strangely in a situation where they are feeling slighted. If you are an employer and are hoping for this to occur, you should be very open about the policy, otherwise there is too much risk for an employee to do this for you. Remember, the employee and his/her families livelihood is in your hands and to expect them to take that risk without a safety net is unfair and shouldn’t be expected.