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Getting Rid of Staff With High Access? 730

HikingStick writes "I've been in the tech field for over 15 years. After more than nine years with the same company, I've been asked to step in and establish an IT department for a regional manufacturing firm. I approached my company early, providing four weeks notice (including a week of pre-scheduled [and pre-approved] vacation time). I have a number of projects to complete, and had planned to document some of the obscure bits of knowledge I've gleaned over the past nine years for the benefit of my peers, so I figured that would give me plenty of time. That was on a Friday. The following Monday, word came down from above that all of my privileged access was to be removed — immediately. So, here I sit, stripped of power with weeks ahead of me. From discussions with my peers in other companies, I know that cutting off high-privilege users is common, but usually in conjunction with a severance offer (to keep their hands off the network during those final weeks, especially if there is any ill-will). Should I argue for restored access, highlight the fact that I am currently a human paperweight, request a severance package, or simply become the most prolific Slashdot poster over the next few weeks? Does your company have a policy/process for dealing with high-privilege users who give notice? What is it, and do you make exceptions?"
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Getting Rid of Staff With High Access?

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  • by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) * on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:18AM (#23516962) Homepage
    Your situation kinda sucks as it sounds like you are a diligent worker who wants to help the company. But as long as they are paying you, it's really their choice how they want to use your services. All you can do is when your co-workers ask for your help in passing the torch, mention that you are hand-cuffed by the lack of access and have them request it for you.

    P.S. Some activities to pass the time would include Watching Grass Grow [] and/or Watching Paint Dry. []
    • by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:30AM (#23517170) Homepage Journal

      What the organization really needs is some time to find out what sorts of things break when you aren't around to poke at them. For the next month they have the benefit of your knowledge, should they need it, but you won't be able to do stuff. This will allow existing staff members to learn to cover gaps while you are still around in case of an emergency.

      You are leaving. The company is far less interested in what you can do for them in your last few weeks than they are in learning how to live without you. That basically requires that they cut you out of the loop as soon as possible.

      • by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:42AM (#23517398)
        very true.. where i work it is policy that when you give your notice your login is turned of completely - your are then paired with someone else in the office - your e-mail box is forwardedto them with an auto reply to mailers of the contact change.

        that pairing allows you to cover and discuss what you where doing and what needs to be picked up.

        instead of spending your last weeks finishing your job you spend the last weeks as a source of information as someone else is trained to cover your job.

        so far it has worked really well for us
        • by SeanGilman ( 1083559 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:42AM (#23518304) Homepage
          Too bad my last employer did not think like this. When I gave notice I also had outlines how I would transfer all of my little known knowledge to my peer and the management loved that. But then they piled a couple more projects on top that they wanted me to get done and my 2 day in-depth transfer was cut to 2 1 hour sessions. Not the best way to try and fill in someone on all the little nuances.

          And there is no need to say that I should have done better documenting this along the way. I did what I could, I even added time into my project estimates to allow me to do just that but when a company is hell bent on making as much money as possible and not care at all what kind of quality it pushes out the door it does not always happen.

          The peer I left behind is a good friend of mine and in the months after I left he would email me from time to time asking for hints on the "little problems". I helped where I could but I was limited to memory alone, no more looking at my little notes, hints or tips and tricks stuff in the code.
          • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:06PM (#23518650) Homepage Journal
            You know..I find it interesting that this drastic type action of immediate cut off and sometimes being escorted physically off premise, happens apparently so much in the private sector, yet I've seen nothing like this in many high level jobs in govt/DoD systems.

            YOu give your get to work normally till your last day.

            The only thing I can think of is that they know if you do anything is a major federal offense..and that that would be a deterrent?

            But seriously, some of these systems have MUCH more valuable and sensitive info on them....and the people leaving don't get treated like shit, like many of the posters here allude to...

            • by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:32PM (#23518990) Journal
              Besides, if you are the one giving notice, one would think that any malicious activity would be carried out before notice was given. I know that were I that type I would have some sort of "time bomb" or what have you that was doing it's thing while I was in the boss' office......but I'm not the malicious type, so it doesn't really matter.

            • by Catiline ( 186878 ) <> on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:37PM (#23519076) Homepage Journal

              YOu give your get to work normally till your last day.
              The only thing I can think of is that they know if you do anything is a major federal offense..and that that would be a deterrent?
              No, it is that the US Government isn't concerned about hostile employees like the private sector is. After all, to get that job you went though a very rigorous screening process (much tougher than the private sector) -- if they thought there was a chance of your being a bad apple, you wouldn't have been hired.
              • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:44PM (#23519186) Homepage Journal
                "No, it is that the US Government isn't concerned about hostile employees like the private sector is. After all, to get that job you went though a very rigorous screening process (much tougher than the private sector) -- if they thought there was a chance of your being a bad apple, you wouldn't have been hired."

                LOL..what gave you that idea that you were scrutinzed so carefully?

                Basically, you gotta be a US citizen....and be at the right time at the right place...I've seen it before. Most contractors are just trying to fill seats with bodies to get billing. I've often seen those that were barely competent get in....but, it is mostly about bodies in seats at many, many sites.

                • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @02:09PM (#23520386) Journal
                  It depends on where you work. For many jobs you will be polygraphed. For some jobs you will go through a lifestyle poly in addition to a counterintelligence/espionage one. Whether the poly works or not is an open question--at the very least it's a psychological tool used to interview people in a stressful situation.

                  Pretty much all security clearance jobs will run a credit check, background check, etc.

                  Many jobs will send send investigators to past acquaintances, friends, neighbors, colleges, etc.

                  The point being, there is a HUGE degree of variation, even to get the same ultimate security clearance. You can immediately get an interim secret clearance just by filling out a form. top secret, etc takes longer and is more rigorous.
      • by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:40AM (#23518282)
        While I can agree with that assessment, there needs to be a clear cut policy. I've had two companies where they would pick and choose who got let go immediately and who finished out their two weeks. When it came time for me to leave, I didn't give them the choice. When it's a choice between being loyal to my current company by shortchanging the company I'm moving to or being loyal to the company I'm moving to and removing the choice from my current company, I'll take the latter.

        Also, the first time anyone had heard that the company might let people go instead of letting them serve out their two weeks was when our supervisor (who was extremely well liked) gave his two weeks, was given a box and escorted to the door in a very humiliating manner. The company then claimed that it was standing policy in spite of the fact that multiple people of all levels had served out their two weeks. Morale tanked and it was awful for productivity.
    • by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:37AM (#23517320)
      I'd get way more creative than that. Misuse all the office supplies you can. For instance, write a lengthy daily report and print it in as many formats as you can (Babelfish it into every language, print it in landscape, use funny fonts, etc.), and then use at least 20 or 30 paperclips to hold it together.

      Waste others' time the way they are wasting yours. Request frequent meetings with superiors to go over your daily reports. Hold very frequent meetings with random groups of underlings to discuss strange topics. For example, you could have an 8:15 meeting with the receptionist, an entry-level programmer, and a sock puppet regarding the situation in Myanmar, followed by a 9:00 meeting with the same entry-level programmer, a different sock puppet, and the janitor regarding your detailed synopsis of the new Indiana Jones movie.

      Make loud phone calls about your internal organs. Bring cake every day and insist that it's someone's birthday. Mix cat food in with Chex Mix and leave a bowl of it in the break room - see how much is gone at the end of the day. Etc.

      Just because you aren't allowed to do any work doesn't mean you have to be bored or watch grass grow to pass the time.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:53AM (#23517592) Homepage
      Exactly. Screw em. If the higher up's think you are worthless and cut your access then give them what they want. A human paperweight. surf slashdot, do as little as possible, when challenged say, "I would love to, but you will not let me."

      Your example is exactly why giving notice is not something you really do anymore. I got further screwed. I was nice like you and did all that, then HR came back with a letter, "All vacation is canceled" you cant take vacation after you give notice, you also forfeit all vacation and sick time accrued.

      So I sat there and watched TV the last 2 weeks in my office. I was going to document all I knew, I decided that I was not going to as they wanted to be jerks about me being a good guy.

      I still get calls from people there about systems that I was the only expert on. I reply with, "what is your PO number for this consulting call? I would love to help you but management and HR told me point blank that everything has to be done by the book."

      So they hired another firm to help them, that firm contracts me out as the consultant. It pisses off the upper managers.
    • by Lijemo ( 740145 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:04AM (#23517776)

      When I was laid off from a previous job-- they cut off my server access immediately. Though it wasn't necessary in my case, it certainly makes sense as a basic policy when letting someone go.

      EXCEPT for the fact that they didn't bother to check for running processes first. Completely unaware of the fact that I was about to be laid off, I had kicked of an elaborate SQL script on the live server just before my boss called me into his office. They killed my account with this script still running-- oops. A friend of mine who was still at the company said that the resulting zombie crashed the main Oracle server, requiring a reboot, three days after I left.

      So the "safe" choice of immediately removing access caused a major crash, while the "dangerous" choice of not removing access would have caused no problem whatsoever. (I'd say something about irony, but I don't want to kick off a debate on the word's meaning and whether it applies...)

  • Back pain (Score:5, Funny)

    by jolyonr ( 560227 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:19AM (#23516964) Homepage
    I would imagine those sorts of working conditions might be enough to flare up your old back pain condition, making it difficult to attend work on a daily basis.
  • by nizo ( 81281 ) * on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:19AM (#23516972) Homepage Journal
    Wow, I will have to remember to give four weeks notice next time instead of two.

    Thanks for the heads up!
    • Re:Nice to know (Score:5, Interesting)

      by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:40AM (#23517364)
      In Belgium the first 5 years is officialy 3 weeks notice and 6 weeks for the company. Then it becomes 6 and 12 and goes up even more after 10 years.
    • Re:Nice to know (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:41AM (#23517380) Homepage

      Wow, I will have to remember to give four weeks notice next time instead of two.

      *laugh* That's nothing. One of our tech writers gave his notice two months ago, and has been working on tying up loose ends since.

      I've never actually seen anyone give that much notice.

      But, yes, giving advance notice and having them lock you out doesn't sound so bad. I've known instances in my company where someone gives notice and gets told "OK, you're on paid leave until you are done" because they don't want people who are leaving poking around in systems.

      I guess to some employers, once you say you're leaving, you're persona non grata. If they don't want to use your time any more, it's their dime.

      • Re:Nice to know (Score:5, Interesting)

        by slashname3 ( 739398 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:22AM (#23518028)

        I guess to some employers, once you say you're leaving, you're persona non grata. If they don't want to use your time any more, it's their dime. Cheers

        I was laid off from one large company once and they provided two months of paid time off. Once they notified me they cut off access. Their take was that my new job was to find another job. The kicker was that if you found another job during that time period then you did not get the payoff package at the end of the two months. Kind of funny, I found a new job just after the check cleared. They setup the rules, we just play by them.

        I also had a situation a long time ago where a contractor that worked for me decided he was going to relocate for a new job. He gave two weeks notice. I checked his projects he had which were done and told him that he was no longer needed. I did not have any make work that justified me paying him for another two weeks. Such is the life of a contractor.

        And don't forget the main rule here, no one is irreplaceable. No one! Not even you. (Yes, I even mean you there in the back with four digit /. id and the smug look on your face!) If you drop off the face of the Earth tomorrow the world is not going to end. Sure, there may be a few glitches here and there but someone will step in and keep things going. People that feel like they are irreplaceable are going to have a major ego correction at some point in their life. Some sooner than later.
        • Re:Nice to know (Score:4, Interesting)

          by v1 ( 525388 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:15PM (#23518766) Homepage Journal
          no one is irreplaceable, but you can't generalize that anyone that quits will cause only "minor glitches".

          I personally know someone that cost a large company what likely turned out to be a few million dollars when she left. She quit because she couldn't schedule vacation time without working her butt off for 2 weeks preparing things in advance, and then returning buried for 2 months playing catchup because nobody was willing to let her train anyone else (in the WORLD) to do what she did, which was quite a few obscure yet important things. (imagine a 40+ story building that occupies a city block, and 4+ floors of that building can't do their jobs, (jobs where work snowballs when not done) for several weeks, and ongoing impacts to parts of the building for the next 4 months) The result was a lot of heads rolled and several new policies were instituted after about 6 months of unbelievable chaos. "this will never be allowed to happen again" was heard by one of her coworkers as things wound down. At least it looks like they learned their lesson.

          Given, that's an exception and not the rule, but it's fun to look at what can happen.

  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:20AM (#23516982) Homepage
    You're possibly getting paid to surf the Internet all day, the best job there every was, and you're wanting to go back to working hard for the Man?
    • Re:Are you crazy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shawnmchorse ( 442605 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:27AM (#23517120) Homepage
      Have you ever had nothing to do at work for that long? I can handle surfing the Internet at work for maybe a week. After that, the boredom is excruciating. Believe me, being completely ignored by your company can sometimes be almost as bad as other things.
      • Re:Are you crazy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:36AM (#23517272)
        Good time to pick up a new skill/programming language or refresh your knowledge, etc.
      • Re:Are you crazy (Score:5, Informative)

        by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:37AM (#23517314) Homepage
        There's just so much to learn on the Internet. You could take foreign language courses, read geeky stuff from MIT OpenCourseware, or follow world affairs more deeply on Google News. If someone got bored with that, they might just some simple job they could do at a distance and draw two salaries at the same time.
      • Re:Are you crazy (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JimDaGeek ( 983925 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:39AM (#23517346)
        I will second this. I had a nice job with a state department as the highest paid person (I was a consultant at the time). I was supposed to be converted to an employee with benefits, but they had a hard time getting the state to actually pay a _decent_ wage (I have 12 years as a programmer).

        So, I spent 3 months or so picking my nose with little tiny things to do here or there. I was going nuts. I personally don't know how anyone can be at work for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and just "browse the web". I set up a proxy server at home and use FoxyProxy so I could get to any site that was blocked (youtube, fark, but not /.). Still, it was not good enough.

        I brought in a USB HD with GB's of stuff on it, like... games. I still wanted to slam my face on a fork. Daily.

        As a programmer I actually want and need to ... Program! It engages my brain and makes me feel warm and cozy.

        So, during my many, many of hours of downtime, I just started looking for a new job on monster, etc. Then I would just leave without even needing to tell anyone, and go on interviews.

        Found a new job. Now happy. ;-)

        Though to be honest, with a state job, once you have about 1 year under you belt, it almost takes an amendment to the state constitution to get you fired. Which was nice from a security point-of-view. Though it also allowed a lot of under-skilled "programmers" to be permanent fixtures.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by neumayr ( 819083 )
          You seriously need to learn to keep yourself busy.
          Most likely, something like that will happen to you again - but it's usually temporarily. You're going to get a new job every time?
          Then what're you going to do after retirement?
        • Re:Are you crazy (Score:5, Insightful)

          by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:20AM (#23517996) Journal
          Wow. I've been sitting here for five minutes rereading this post -- while doing other things -- and I can't get it out of my head.
          I can't imagine something better than being paid to read Wikipedia and learn stuff all day long for months at a time. That's basically a MacArthur grant.
          I'd learn Icelandic, finish my PIC data acquisition unit, re-learn synthetic organic chemistry, design and build a couple power supplies, actually learn electrical engineering rather than just pretending to know it, build a suit of chainmail, learn enough aerodynamics to design a new set of wings for a homebuilt plane... I could spend three years of 8 hour days online with ease, and love every second of it.
          (I know this because after a car crash I spent about six weeks bedridden and that's exactly what I did the whole time, and it was *glorious*. I learned enough Japanese to have semi-intelligent conversations and taught myself Perl during that painful vacation.)
          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:52AM (#23518434)

            build a suit of chainmail
            Okay I'm thinking this is the one activity, taking place in a typical office cubicle, that would finally garner the attention of the higher-ups and make them wonder "what exactly are we paying Steve for again?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by BodhiCat ( 925309 )
      2 words, internet porn.
  • by Corporate Troll ( 537873 ) * on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:20AM (#23516998) Homepage Journal

    In the early nineties, my dad was a high-privilege employee at a bank. Anyway, due to office politics, he pretty much got the boot because one of the higher ups didn't like him. (You know, how easy it is to fire someone if you really want). He had been working there for nearly 20 years, and according to local law he had 6 months notice. He was disallowed to go to the bank during those 6 months: from one day to another he sat at home.

    I heard this is pretty much the rule with high-privilege employees. So, I'd suggest, sit back, enjoy yourself and troll on slashdot as if there were no tomorrow.

  • nope (Score:5, Funny)

    by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:23AM (#23517026) Homepage Journal
    if you think that this will make you the only person taking a pay check to sit around all day and do nothing more than post to slashdot, you are sorely mistaken.
  • by Pope ( 17780 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:24AM (#23517052)
    a delightful term I learned from my UK counterparts. Essentially you're still under employ by the current company so cannot do work for your new one or any competition, and you relax at home while getting paid. It's like paid vacation, except not, since you could theoretically be called in to work at any point.

    AKA. request to work from home if your access is revoked, since you can't do anything at that location now anyway.
  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <> on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:24AM (#23517054)

    We look forward to hearing from you...frequently.

  • Access removal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trippd6 ( 20793 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:25AM (#23517068) Homepage
    I have worked for 3 hosting companies. My experiance has been: If you are not considered a risk, you are allowed to work your final weeks with full access. If you are REMOTELY considered a risk, you are imediately walked out, although you are paid for your final weeks.

    Any good admin/manager knows if you have physical access, you might as well have root/admininistrator access.
    • Re:Access removal (Score:4, Interesting)

      by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:52AM (#23517576)
      That is my experience as well. The risk the company has that you might hold a grundge against them and left because of that and thus might want to hurt them can be real.

      Who do you give root access to? To people you trust. People who are loyal to your cause. If people leave, it means they are no longer loyal.

      Also it is better to revoke rights of everybody as a policy. That way you won't forget to remove them later. A friend of mine had access to an ISPs root account several years after he left.

      The best thing you can do is just ask what they want documented and do that. Also realise that for them you are already gone.
      Do all your requests by email. That way they can not blame you afterwards of spoiling things for them
  • Enjoy the break (Score:5, Informative)

    by DataBroker ( 964208 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:25AM (#23517070)
    It's in the company's interest for you to do nothing. They actually will prefer if you do absolutely nothing because of their own liability. As a regular employee, if you mess something up it's just negligence (oops). On the other hand if the company terminates you and still gives you access, and then you mess something up, they're criminally liable because they should have restricted your access.

    For example, I worked on banking software and had god-rights. If I as a regular employee steal all of the customer data and sell it, then I am the criminal. If I have been terminated and do the same, then they are at fault. Now yes, I realize that it's a pedantic difference, but the banks which run the software see a world of difference and will sue the my employer accordingly.

    Believe me, it's cheaper to pay me 6 months severance than it is to be sued for my actions.
  • It really depends on level of access and what they can access. In many cases however they have been escorted out the door with in minutes of giving notice. Typically they get the two weeks notice they gave as paid time (Two weeks is standard).
    • by CopaceticOpus ( 965603 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:40AM (#23518272)
      This seems really silly. Since the employee is the one giving notice, he probably would not have motivation to cause damage before leaving. Furthermore, if he wanted to open a back door or steal code before leaving, he could simply do it before he gave notice.

      On the other hand, those two weeks could be a really crucial time for the employee to document his knowledge and train others. Any company that won't take advantage of those two weeks is probably just being paranoid.
  • Nothing new here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjvn ( 11568 ) <> on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:26AM (#23517084) Homepage
    It seems to be common now for companies' to strip users of all their privileges ASAP. If you think this was bad, be glad you're not be laid-off. I've often many people tell me that they learned they no longer had a job when their sessions were terminated in the middle of the work day.

    Welcome to the work-world of the 21st century.

    Steven [] []
    • by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:47AM (#23517488)

      I've often many people tell me that they learned they no longer had a job when their sessions were terminated in the middle of the work day.
      Yah, I had a similar thing happen to me. Middle of the day, suddenly my whole connection goes down and I can't re-establish it. I get really pissed off because I had just spent the last 3 months working 80 hour weeks getting my manager's stupid pet project out the door on time, just to have it cancelled at the last minute. I storm in to my manager's office and tear into him about "how dare you lay me off" and "this company will die without me" and "your mother sucks so-and-so in etc," and on and on.

      He tries to interrupt me with some lame explanation, but I'm having none of it. I pick up his stupid little "certificate of excellence" award he got at the last quarterly meeting and throw it against the wall, shattering it to pieces. He tries to call security, but I rip the phone out of his hand and continue to hurl abuse that would make the paint peel if he didn't keep the office at 60 goddamn degrees all the time, rendering it permanently encased in ice.

      Finally, some of my fellow co-workers come in and ask what's going on. I tell them I've been laid off, and so they start in on the boss too. How could you do this to our best employee, who do you think you are, etc. By this time, my boss is in a corner in the fetal position weeping softly. My two co-workers quit on the spot in solidarity, and throw their laptops at my boss, who is knocked unconcious by one of them, while the other smashes into his new 24" wide-screen HD monitor.

      At last, my co-workers head off to the bar to continue the rant about the injustice of it all, while I go back to my desk to put my "wall o' tech books" in a box. While, I'm there, I happen to notice the back of my computer. Turns out I had knocked the Ethernet cable out with my foot.

    • by An dochasac ( 591582 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:07AM (#23517806)
      Welcome to the work-world of the 21st century.

      No, welcome to the work-world of the U.S. (circa 1990-200?). Much of the world hasn't adopted these draconian and dehumanizing disemployment procedures. They rely on human decency during severance just as U.S. companies once did.

      The common practice of frog walking terminated employees to the nearest exit results in far more long term damage than the hypothetical "disgruntled employee on his/her way out" ever could. I suspect some of the HR managers came up with this process in order to meld the Japanese "work to death" management theories with the U.S. "T minus 0 seconds of job security." It doesn't work but it gives the HR wonks something to justify their own jobs. Think of it this way, when Joe employee has zero job security, every minute of every day becomes a "I may be on my way out" minute. What makes that employee any less likely to do the damage 30 seconds before the termination decision is made? This is what we have across the U.S. right now and people wonder why you can't get a clerk at the *mart, why you can't get good service anywhere and why corporations are infested with incompetent, selfish, opportunists [] who steal from customers and sabotage companies and co-workers in order to gain "job security." The team player is dead, it's every man for himself in corporate America.

      The odd thing is that these same American multinational companies often do have sane and humane exit policies for their outsourced contractors and their overseas employees.

  • Here's a plan: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:26AM (#23517088)
    1. Do nothing. 2. Keep bits of obscure information for yourself unless they come asking for it. 3. Start new job. 4. ??? 5. PROFIT !

    Rumor has it that step 4 has something to do with becoming a highly-paid consultant for the old company.

  • Take the high road (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 8127972 ( 73495 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:26AM (#23517096)
    If they want to keep you from doing your job, they're only going to be hurting themselves and their isn't really much that you can do about that. But what you can do is to do what you can to leave on the best of terms. Just because they decide to be dorks doesn't mean that you have to respond in kind. It's really important to not burn bridges as you might need them for a reference some day. Document whatever obscure bits that you need to and do knowledge transfer with those you can work with. Then you can move on with you conscience clear.
  • by Paul Johnson ( 33553 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:27AM (#23517106) Homepage
    I'd ask for "gardening leave" (i.e. be allowed to go home rather than forced to sit twiddling your thumbs all day). You might also offer to sit down with a co-worker and tell them about all the stuff you were doing so they can take it over.

    This is almost certainly not personal. Your senior management has obviously made a policy decision that the risks of leaving you with access to the systems are more important than the costs of locking you out. Obviously *you* know you are honest and safe, but they can't take that risk. If you think about the amount of damage you could have done if so inclined, you might see the point. There are quite a few horror stories about disaffected employees and computer systems.
  • by civik ( 244978 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:28AM (#23517134)
    You could level a character to 70 no problem in 4 weeks. Enjoy!
  • by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:28AM (#23517138) Journal
    get your work ip address banned by slashdot and wikipedia.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bryansix ( 761547 )
      Or better yet, get your work email server IP address banned from sending email to any major ISPs.
  • Really, you aren't.

    You should spend the next 3 weeks documenting your projects. That is what the company needs from you. So few companies get this, want you coding until the last minute.

    What happens when your stuff breaks? The next folks start at your documentation and go from there. Internal wiki's are great for this.
  • by techsoldaten ( 309296 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:31AM (#23517190) Journal
    Get everyone organized on the way out and leave a lasting impression! Organize the workers in your workplace. Technology workers are the least represented sector in the US and should be able to reap the benefits of collective bargaining.

    Highlight unfair labor practices, working conditions, unsavory boss types, gender inequality in pay scales, and anything else that brings pain to people's lives. Gender inequality is a great one, because it exists almost everywhere. Distribute pamphlets, circulate emails, stick things up on whiteboard, announce your demands loudly.

    If you can get 75% of the workers there to sign a petition to join a labor union the organization has to deal with the union by law. Offer people a cookie to sign the petition and you will hit that number. An affiliated union can get an organizer in there after you leave to keep things going.

    Coders of the world unite!

  • by jtshaw ( 398319 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:32AM (#23517200) Homepage
    I've left two jobs in my life where I had administrative type access to high importance parts of the system. Company A when I gave my notice (three weeks in this case) said thanks, but told me to take the three weeks off with pay and disabled my access immediately. I have had great recommendations from my manager at that company which has helped me get other jobs, so I'm pretty sure it isn't a person issue.

    Company B, which I left a couple months ago, let me work my entire 4 weeks notice with full access.

    I don't know how big a firm your talking about here, but a lot of companies have a pretty firm HR policy on asset access for short timer employees. Before you get too upset, check into the policy and see if your being singled out or if that is just the way the organization works. It certainly sounds to me based on your snippet the latter is much more likely.
  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:32AM (#23517204) Journal
    My last position (in Utah) required a DoD IT-1 clearance, and I'd gotten the offer to work in Oregon at my current position. Funny thing is, when I gave two weeks' notice, they immediately removed my access to the production environment servers and from the datacenter that held 'em (as required). But, they didn't remove them from all the non-DoD-related servers and services.

    I spent those two weeks typing documentation on everything I did, and in training one of the junior admins to wrangle SMTP until they found a replacement. The only real benefit I got out of the deal was that I didn't have to carry a pager anymore.

    The other benefit? The folks there were okay with me burning off paid sick days to arrange for the U-Haul and to tie up loose ends before the move.

    Most companies that I've worked with in the past were similar - you only really lose access to the vital stuff, but there's usually plenty of non-vital stuff that still needs done until you bail.


  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:32AM (#23517206)
    That would be the ethical thing to do. At this stage you don't need the high access as your replacement has the access. I would work closely with your replacement explaining things to them that may not be nessarly documented, even if they are documented people most likely don't want to read it. So use the time to give your replacement the upper hand. There is a lot you can do without having root/administrator access.
  • It is unusual (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:33AM (#23517248)
    I have a friend who is an accountant. When he turned in his notice to a Fortune 500 company (2 weeks I believe), they gave him 1 month's pay and told him (fairly politely) that he could leve immediately and good luck on his next job. However, note I said that he's an accountant.

    It does seem to me that there's little point in removing access and keeping an IT guy on. If they need to remove access they should just pay you for a month and let you go. The fact that they want you to stay and took away your access says a lot of negative things about them. They don't trust you, but they want to keep you to the bitter end anyway.

    Knowledge transfer as much as you wish during this time. If I was being treated this way, it sure wouldn't make me want to seek people out to give knowledge to, but I would probably help anyone who came to me with questions. I do suggest to you that you not ask for your access back. If your company wants to be a jerk about this, let it be a complete inconvenience for them and play by those rules. A company that has already shown that they don't trust you is not going to look favorably on any requests you make for restored access. In fact, they might find it suspicious that you need the access and they might suspect you of planting trojans, etc. Just live with it. In fact, you probably should fight to not get the access back and here's why. If something goes wrong after you leave, your company has shown you that they don't trust you. They might blame you for whatever happens if you get your access restored.

    Most companies do not act this way. I've worked in IT for almost 22 years now (since college) and we've either just sent people packing the same day (never for IT staff, but it has happened for sales people and such) or they got to keep their access until they left.
  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:40AM (#23517366) Journal

    Should I argue for restored access, highlight the fact that I am currently a human paperweight, request a severance package, or simply become the most prolific Slashdot poster over the next few weeks?
    Is that a challenge?!

    Good lord, man, do you know what you're doing? College just let out...

    But if you're serious, I'm willing to take odds -- and willing to see if a challenge like that changes the character of slashdot during the event.

    Now we just need sponsors and a catchy name, any suggestions out there?
  • by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <> on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:54AM (#23517622) Homepage
    Seriously. Just be 'on call' if they have problems. Since you can't do much by physically being there, what difference does it make?

    if they won't do that, ask for severence and be on your merry way enjoying the time off.

    I wasn't so lucky. I was 'fired' (new management didnt' understand my role as lead network security analyst, and even worse, feared my knowledge). But because of that fear, I got a severence package and most of the bonus I was promised for helping an outsourcing initiative (no, it wasn't me who was replaced through that). I was also able to collect unemployment. The downside is that I had to explain why I was fired in all of my interviews.
  • by adsl ( 595429 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @10:58AM (#23517686)
    If your company truly thought you were some kind of "risk" they would have given you immediate "gardening leave". The fact they haven't means, as another has suggested, that they want to see what happens without you being in the daily operations. In short they ARE respecting you and will use you as and when they feel something is "broken" and needs your guidance. In short enjoy the R & R that the company has offered you as a parting gift. Be respectful and courteous, don't burn bridges (you don't appear to be that type anyway) and best of luck in your new job:) Meantime I have a problem with WM11 not syncing to my MP3 Plarers...Are you available?;)
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:34AM (#23518210)

    If a company withdraws privileged access from personnel nearing termination, how are those people supposed to disarm all the time bombs they've installed in systems over the years?

    But seriously: The last company I was laid off from never stripped me of any privileges. Upon termination, I was expected to (and did) return my secure token generator, so now I can't log in through their firewall any longer (this assumes that I'm not aware of any back doors). But, during my career, I had administrative responsibility for several servers. I had installed some simple monitoring programs on these systems in my personal accounts that would page me and e-mail me at work and home if problems were detected. Prior to leaving, I prepared instructions for my replacement which included changing the notification e-mail addresses. He never did so. That was in 2003. Occasionally, I still get status messages from these systems, indicating that my user accounts, including e-mail routing rules, are still active.

  • It depends (Score:4, Informative)

    by cfulmer ( 3166 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:56AM (#23518498) Homepage Journal
    Are you going to a competitor?

    If not, I'd approach my boss, say "I understand that you want to protect all the data that I have access to. But, I hope to be able to serve this company in the time that I have left and without at least some of that access, I can't do that. Here are the things that I still have in progress: X, Y and Z. If you give me permission to do A, B and C, then I can complete these projects before I leave.

    "Others might have given you much less notice, But out of loyalty, I wanted to give you ample time to find my replacement and handle the transition. Would you please consider reinstating the access I need to finish these projects? If you cannot, please tell me how I can serve this company until my departure."

    They probably won't give you the access. But, this at least creates a positive impression in their minds. Pulling some of the other stunts suggested here doesn't.
  • by cwills ( 200262 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:56AM (#23518506)
    From a purely security policy viewpoint, it's not "would you do something", but "could you do something".

    Don't take it personally. Especially if you are leaving a large company.

    So.. what to do with your new free time? If you really want to not burn a bridge, spend the time documenting all the little ins and outs of the stuff you really think is important, or that you have had some nagging concerning about. Find out who will be picking up your tasks, introduce them to the folks that you interact with on a routine basis. If you have direct interaction with end users, let your replacement know which end users requires a little more attention, or have difficulty with things. Give your replacement(s) a little "tour" of the more obscure tasks that you do. All systems have little quirks, transfer those bits of knowledge. Any special configurations, unusual setups, etc.

    Why would you want to do this. Because it's a professional way to respond. And it is possible that years later it might come back to you. As a personal antidote, when I left my first company (after 13 years), I didn't burn any bridges. They let me keep my system authorities, but what I did was to set up a new account for my replacement and with my replacement looking over my shoulder I started to remove my old accounts, just to make sure that things would still work. I worked closely with my replacement in "cleaning up" all the little hooks that my old admin accounts had and made sure that he had the same access that I did. A few years later in the new company, I was laid off as part of a large downsizing - several hundred people (everyone was literally given notice, told not to touch any system, make one phone call, grab your personal stuff and escorted out of the building - in a very unprofessional manner). My old manager from the original company contacted me and asked if I was part of the downsizing and let me know that "there is a desk here if you need it". (As a final note in this, about 6, 7 months after I was laid off, I received a call from the company that laid me off.. asking for my skills again.. my response was "hell hasn't frozen over yet") -- so the karma works both ways..

  • Fuck them. (Score:4, Informative)

    by mkcmkc ( 197982 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:13PM (#23518746)
    My multi-decade experience in the world of large bureaucracies has taught me this: If you get stressed every time your organization does something insanely stupid, the only effect will be to make yourself miserable. Throw not your pearls before swine. Organizations are incapable of learning by being told--if they ever learn, it is only from catastrophe.

    Your play is to do whatever is in your own personal interest (which would include the interest of your family and friends, and perhaps innocent bystanders).

  • My take (Score:4, Informative)

    by Grayputer ( 618389 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:22PM (#23518864)
    OK, I guess I'll de-cloak and jump in. First background, I'm a CTO with a small software company. By small I'm talking about 30 bodies total. I mention this only to provide some data on my experience/viewpoint (CTO, not developer) and my environment (dev shop, small company) and even with all that said, remember YMMV.

    OK, our policy falls in to two categories/buckets:
    1 - your privs are removed and you are sent home with pay for the notice period, goodbye don't come in to work.
    2- you keep all your privs and you continue to work, thanks for staying during the notice period.

    Nothing else makes sense to us. Removing your privs and having you come in just creates a distraction while you talk to other staff, not useful to us.

    As to whether you fall into bucket 1 or 2 is the result of conversations among management. Any doubt that you will play nice - goto bucket 1 immediately. Any doubt that you are really needed to complete work - goto bucket 1 immediately. If you both can and will contribute to the project and we do not expect any issues with you working during your notice (poaching employees, causing trouble, etc.) then go to bucket 2.

    We have had people we assigned to bucket 1 that were great employees and I'd like to keep. They were not really needed for the project and we sent them home as sort of a last 'paid vacation' from us. No ill will, I'd hire them again. We've also sent people home and taken a hit on the project as the distraction, productivity, or trust factor outweighed the usefulness factor.

    Removing your privileges and still having you come in makes absolutely no sense to me. Seems to be the worst of both worlds, you can't really be productive and the low work load can cause you to create distractions for other staff. I just do not get why they want to do that.

    Hope that helps.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling