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I want to leave my job, but I am worried about having to deal with my boss. From previous experience I have seen they do not deal with this well, taking it personally rather than being professional, interrogating people and making their last weeks generally unpleasant.

Added to this, several people have left recently, so this won't reflect well on them either.

My question is: how would you suggest I deal with this situation, to make it as bearable as possible?

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    Good answers were made while I was searching for a link like this: askamanager.org/2010/08/… – thursdaysgeek Oct 3 '18 at 22:51
  • Important factor: do you already have another job lined up? – Eric Lippert Oct 3 '18 at 23:58
  • Take the Japanese approach, hire someone else to give the news :) – Rui F Ribeiro Oct 4 '18 at 7:27
  • @Eric - thanks for asking. That's an important thing I left out. I don't at the moment, but wouldn't go ahead without having something in place – marcustx Oct 4 '18 at 8:10
  • @Thursdaysgeek - Thanks for sharing, I will look at this! – marcustx Oct 4 '18 at 8:10
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how would you suggest I deal with this situation, to make it as bearable as possible?

Just be as professional as possible when you resign. Take the high road. Give the expected notice period, work to the best of your ability, and leave on a good note. Ignore any emotionality.

If your boss takes it personally, there's not much you can do other than keep your cool and continue to act professionally.

Eventually, your boss will get over it. They always do.

And from my personal experience, we often fear the worst and it usually turns out not to be as bad as expected.

I only had one case where my boss reacted very emotionally. I repeatedly assured him that it wasn't personal, just a move I felt I had to make for my career. At the end of my notice period, he apologized for the way he reacted.

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    Thank you Joe, some really clear and helpful advice here, which really helps. The thing you picked up on (that I always forget) is that how we forsee things going and how they actually pan out are often two very different things. I'll try and remember this! Thanks again. – marcustx Oct 4 '18 at 9:03
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Step one: find another job.

Do not omit step one. The fact that you will be unemployed when you leave is the biggest thing giving your current employer leverage over you. Remove that leverage.

several people have left recently, so this won't reflect well on them either

I assume you mean that a pile of people leaving all at once does not reflect well on middle management. That's good; it shouldn't reflect well on them. It should indicate to upper management that middle management has a serious retention problem, which they do.

how would you suggest I deal with this situation, to make it as bearable as possible?

Again, do not skip step one.

Step two: remove everything from your office that you wouldn't want to leave behind and take it home.

Step three: write a letter -- it needs to be in writing -- that says "Dear Boss, I am resigning my position at FooBar Corporation effective two weeks from today's date, the 31st of Frobuary. Yours sincerely, Marcus T. X" and give it to your manager, preferably after you've been paid your most recent paycheck.

If they ask you if you have signed an offer letter intending to work elsewhere, do not lie. Some companies will escort you out the door if you have signed an offer letter, because you are now both a security risk and a morale risk. This is a perfectly reasonable and sensible thing to do, and they would be wise to do so. That's why you took all your books and photos home before you resigned.

If they ask you anything else, like who you are working for next, or whatever, and you don't want to answer, don't answer. It's none of their business, and what are they going to do, fire you?

If they ask you to sign anything, do not sign it. Some companies will suddenly "remember" that oh, we forgot to get you to sign this non-disclosure, non-compete the day you started. You would be very foolish to sign it.

From previous experience I have seen they do not deal with this well, taking it personally rather than being professional, interrogating people and making their last weeks generally unpleasant.

That might have something to do with why they have a retention problem. Feel free to mention that to human resources on your way out the door.

If they make your life too unpleasant, you can always just leave.

Spend your last two weeks modeling good behaviour, documenting your work for the next person, training your replacement, and so on. Again, if they ask personal questions, the right answer is "I'd rather not discuss that". If they're mad, well, they're mad. That's their behaviour; the person whose behaviour you control is you, so behave professionally.

It's unpleasant to quit a job, particularly if management is going to be unprofessional about it. But you say it has happened a lot lately, so hopefully they will get the message that first, this happens, it's business, and second, that if they want it to happen less, they need to up their game.

  • Thanks Eric, lots to remember and think about. Something interesting you said about our retention issue. It's definitely there but upper management don't seem to care. People have expressed concerns directly to human resources too, yet nothing is actually being done as this person seems to be getting there first to set the agenda. – marcustx Oct 4 '18 at 17:01
  • @marcustx: You're welcome. Clueless upper management ignoring signals about bad attrition is all the more reason for you to leave and find a more well-functioning company. – Eric Lippert Oct 4 '18 at 17:03
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I would suggest you to make your exit as smooth as possible. Like Eric said in his response, this fear of what the boss might think, and how they will take your leaving should not stop you from looking for new opportunities. It is your decision completely (unless you have signed a bond/contract for your position). So, first look for a new opportunity. And this will surely take some time. So who knows, maybe the situation in the company will change and things will become better.

Once you have found a new opportunity, the next obstacle is how to tell your boss. You will have to tell him that you have found a new opportunity that you want to take up, and because of that, you will have to resign. But, you can make it as pleasant as possible. Like, for example, you could give your boss a parting gift, take him out for lunch, give him a card; but do all this exclusively. Don't let others in the office know of this.

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You are going to have to pull off the band aid.

Knowing how this person will react should play into your overall strategy. You want to stay positive and professional at all times.

Some people will want to go scorched earth or spill the beans. You have to ask yourself in this case what is the end goal. If the end goal is to let them know then that should only be the end goal.

Since this boss will perhaps get defensive or beg you to stay, you have to state clearly why you want to leave and stick to your guns. I would advise you to keep an open mind. Maybe they will counter offer you with a different position. It is their job to also retain people as a boss. If changes will legitimately make you stay then also consider that option.

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