How do I hand in my notice to my boss while she's dealing with a family crisis? In what way can I handle this in a way that is tactful and professional?

I work in marketing for a very small (and floundering) tech start up. My direct boss is the CMO. I've been there for a little over a year and was promoted a little over a month ago. There are four people, including my boss, on the Marketing Team and I oversee our leads-to-sales process, manage major projects, such as our website, which is currently being redone etc. Hierarchically, I am directly below my boss. However, there is a huge age/career gap there--she is the CMO and I've only been out of college three years. I should also mention that my boss is remote--everything we do is over email or the phone.

While I've learned a lot in this job, I don't plan on making a career out of marketing. Back in the beginning of the year I applied for a fairly competitive fellowship in another country. The fellowship is exactly in-line with what I want to do career-wise. I recently found out that I got it. I was planning on handing in my notice tomorrow, giving our team four weeks to handle the transition (my last day will be July 29th). However, I just found out that my boss's mother, who has been very sick for several months, just passed away.

I still want to hand in my notice but I'm not sure how to do this sensitively. Timing was already going to be bad--the company has been floundering for several years and it looks like it might be going under soon. Marketing has been under the microscope and my boss has been under a lot of pressure. There are also a few personal factors at play here--my Aunt is the CEO of the company (which is how I initially got the job) and my boss has always been very open with me about her levels of stress and her mother's illness. I think it makes sense to hand in my notice earlier, rather than later, so that the team has more time for the transition. But I don't know--in what way can I handle this in a way that is tactful and professional?

  • 1
    Ask you Aunt how to handle it.
    – paparazzo
    Jul 5, 2016 at 0:16

1 Answer 1


Putting to one side that the CEO is your Aunt, if your manager is not readily available due to personal reasons, informing your boss's manager is the appropriate course of action.

In this case your boss's manager happens to be your Aunt, who happens to be the CEO. This doesn't change the process you should follow. Inform the CEO that you are giving notice, and they can handle it from there.

I would, however, explain why you are telling the CEO; because your immediate boss is dealing with personal issues and you didn't wish to intrude during this time.

  • 2
    Very well said and compassionate. Dec 28, 2018 at 19:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .