Dear SaaStr: Is 90 Days Too Long To Give Notice for Leaving an Executive Position?

I think the best, classiest thing to do if you (x) have truly done well there, and (y) are in a critical position, is to provide a 14/60 notice.

I.e, “It’s time for me to move on to the next journey. I want to do it in the way that best supports the company and my team. 2 weeks if that’s all you want. But 60 days if you need it.”

No one really wants a long, labored public transition. But really, a true VP that is doing amazing things, the company often can really benefit from 60 days. Or at least a calm 30 days.  That’s enough time to get the replacement process going. To fill in the gaps, to finish a few key projects. And importantly, to plan a thoughtful succession. And sometimes, you can delay the announcement for the first 30 days, to give you and your boss a chance to just plan for a few weeks without too much organizational stress.

I’ve provided 14/60 notice the only 2 times I moved on. Did I benefit personally? Not in the short term. But the organization was left in a better place because of it.

That’s what you want to do. Leave things in a better place.  If you do that, I’ve found good things happen in the long term.

And importantly, it almost always keeps the door open.  To go back.  For a recommendation.  For something else together.  And looking back, I’ve always regretted it when I left something and didn’t have that.  You think none of that matters the day you quit without notice.  But then later, you realize it was just a big enforced error.

Whatever you do, don’t just “quit” out of the blue if you are in a senior position of trust.

We saw this way, way too much in the SaaS Boom Days.  It’s almost become standard procedure.  Many feel they don’t own their employer anything anymore, and perhaps they don’t.  But I think it’s more subtle than that if you’re truly in a position of trust.

Tell your boss you’ve decided to move on, but your goal is to leave them in as strong a position as possible. Tell her you are grateful for the time together (even if you aren’t) and proud of what you’ve accomplished. Leave your team in a strong, safe position. Leave things in a better place.  And give them enough notice, and enough time, to plan and process.

Look if you haven’t done a great job, leave that day. Everyone will be fine, likely better if you do.

But if you have accomplished a ton, it usually takes 30–60 days to get the org to a better place.  At least do as much there as you can.

A related post here:

(note: an updated SaaStr Classic answer)

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