How to Have “The Talk” with Your Boss

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We can't promise it won’t be awkward, but taking these steps should make your exit a lot easier.

-by Jaclyn Westlake, Founder of The Job Hop

Getting a new job is super exciting. Telling your boss about said new job? Not so much. Whether you’re desperately sad at the thought of leaving your awesome manager or can’t wait to never see your nightmare of a supervisor again, chances are, you’re going to have some serious anxiety about giving notice. Being nervous about quitting is totally normal, but if you take the time to prepare in advance, you’ll be just fine.

Since we’re pretty sure you might be feeling overwhelmed by this whole giving notice thing, we’ve broken down the right way to have “the talk” with your boss into six simple steps.

1)      Plan your Talking Points

You can’t just breeze into your manager’s office and blurt out, “I quit.” (Although, if you really can’t stand your job, that might feel pretty cathartic). If you’re serious about making this conversation as comfortable as possible, you’ll need to figure out what you want to say ahead of time.

To start, you may want to thank your boss for the opportunity, express your gratitude for everything she’s taught you, or share how much you’ve enjoyed working with her. If you don’t have a good relationship with your manager, you can breeze over this part with a simple “I’ve really appreciated my time here, but…” Next, think about sharing some insight into why you’ve decided to move on. Were you ready for a new challenge? A shorter commute? A total career pivot? And lastly, your boss will probably be curious about your new role, so you should decide how much (if anything) you’re willing to share.

2)      Prep Your Exit Plan

Finding out that a valued employee is leaving will probably leave your boss feeling a little stressed. Not only will he need to figure out how to cover your workload once you move on, but he’s also going to have to start looking for your replacement. Make your manager’s life (and yours!) easier by preparing an exit plan in advance.

Dedicate some time to thinking about which projects you can wrap up, what needs to be handed off, and when you’d like your last day to be (two weeks from the day you give notice is ideal). Try to be realistic about what you can actually accomplish so that you can effectively manage your boss’s expectations.

3)      Time it Right

When the big day arrives, don’t just pop into your manager’s office to break the news. Request a meeting in advance at a time that’ll work for both of you and follow up with a calendar invite. Getting a meeting request like this may raise your boss’s suspicions, but it’s better than blindsiding her, and she’ll likely appreciate your professionalism.

4)      Drop the Hammer (You Know, in a Nice Way)

In other words, get to the point. Here’s what it looks like.

“Thanks for taking the time to meet with me today. I want to start by telling you how much I’ve enjoyed working with you and that I’ve really appreciated my time here. But, after three great years, I feel ready to move on. It was a hard decision, but I’ve chosen to accept a new position. So, I’d like to formally give you my two weeks’ notice.”

Not so bad, right? Just be prepared for any variety of reactions. Your boss may be incredibly supportive, seem completely indifferent, or totally freak out. And that’s OK. Try to remember that his reaction isn’t about you; everyone responds differently depending on their personality, management style, maturity level, or the amount of stress they’re under. Keep your cool and stick to your talking points.

Only you can decide how honest you really want to be about your reasons for leaving, and providing candid feedback about your role, the company, or your manager’s leadership style can be really helpful in making future employees’ experiences better. That said, it’s a tricky road to navigate. Regardless of what you decide, try to avoid accusatory statements (“you never appreciated how great I was at calendaring!”) or feedback that’s less than constructive (“I hate it here”). The goal is to have a positive, straightforward conversation.

5)      Re-focus the Conversation

Once you’ve delivered the big news, it’s best to steer the conversation toward what comes next. Start by saying something like, “I want to do everything I can to make this transition as seamless as possible. Can we discuss what that would look like? I have some ideas I’d like to share if you’re ready.”

Demonstrating your commitment to a smooth transition should help to ease your manager’s stress – and it’ll make you look super professional, too. It’s a classic win-win.

6)      Breathe a Huge Sigh of Relief

Regardless of how your boss took the news, it’s over! You did it. Now it’s time to get to work on your transition and make the most of your last two weeks on the job.

 

There’s no way around it: giving notice is kind of scary. But, if you take the time to brainstorm an artful plan of action, breaking the news to your boss will be way more bearable.