Your boss should be the first one to know about your decision to resign. It is inappropriate for your boss to learn or hear from others that you are planning to leave the company.
Once you have made a decision to resign, the next step is to write a resignation letter then schedule a face-to-face meeting with your supervisor to break the news to them.
The resignation meeting can be nerve wrecking both for yourself and your boss. It would be especially tough if you were a highly valued employee because your boss would feel sad to lose you.
As soon as you decide to resign, immediately schedule a meeting time and date with your boss. Aim to have the meeting behind closed doors – in private. Ideally the meeting should coincide with the beginning of your notice period. In other words, if you intend to give a two-week notice, then your resignation meeting should be shortly before the two weeks countdown begin or on the actual day the countdown begins. Do not schedule a resignation meeting on your last day at work.
When you meet with your boss to break the news that you are leaving, have a resignation letter ready.
It is best to first have a formal discussion where you break the news that you are resigning then at the end of the meeting you can handover your resignation letter. Alternatively, you can inform your manager that you will email your resignation letter immediately after the meeting.
Emailing helps especially in circumstances where you need to simultaneously alert Human Resources and any other key staff about your departure. In this case you would “cc” them on your resignation email with your resignation letter as an attachment.
Take a moment to sincerely thank your boss for the opportunity to have worked in the company. Mention a few key things that you learned and enjoyed such as opportunities for training, working with great colleagues, the good leadership skills of your boss, the mission of the company, the company culture, clients etc.
During the resignation meeting, the topmost question that will be on your boss’s mind is – Why are you leaving?
Your boss might ask you this question or they could wait for you to volunteer any information. In this case it is up to you to decide how much information you want to share with your manager. If you don’t want to share any information or details, you could give a high-level and respectful summary such as “I found a great opportunity which I believe will help me to advance in my career.”
If you decide to share details, you can mention or reveal what your new job will be and the name of the company. Alternatively, if you are leaving to pursue other interests or opportunities such as going back to school, starting a business, traveling, starting a family, relocating, career change etc you could also share or disclose what you are comfortable revealing.
Inform your boss about how much notice you want to give and ensure that you specify your last day of work. This helps to ensure that both of you are on the same page and prevents any misunderstandings.
Mention that you are willing to assist in ensuring a smooth transition. Point out ways you can help such as updating your job description with all your roles, preparing handover notes, training colleagues etc. Also ask your manager for their preference in the handover process and when to begin it.
Discuss with your boss the status of major tasks and projects that you are working on. Point out any pending tasks that will need to be addressed after your departure. Offer to prepare a list of major or pending tasks that you were working on as well as sharing tips, tricks or titbit’s for how to efficiently perform your job.
Mention where everything is located such as files, documents, passwords etc.
Your boss might have some words of wisdom to share with you or some tips. Your boss might also want to share some feedback such as expressing appreciation for your work, mentioning aspects that they liked about your work performance and wishing you success as you move on. Listen and thank your boss for wishing you well.
On the other hand, sometimes, a boss might be shocked or angry that you are leaving. If your boss is angry, yells or shouts, stay calm and be quiet. Don’t yell back, this can escalate the situation. Your boss could be reacting out of fear or they might feel betrayed that you are leaving.
Calmly and respectfully restate that you are willing to help with the transition, reaffirm your last day
9. Request your boss to be your reference
You might want to ask your boss to be your reference. This is especially true if you got along well and had a cordial, friendly, respectful or pleasant working relationship. A strong and positive reference from your immediate supervisor will serve you well in your career.
In most organizations, the Human Resources Department would typically provide bare bones reference such as confirming your job title, salary and employment starting and ending dates. Whereas this information is important for administrative fact checking or background checks, usually a much stronger reference than this would be needed to comfortably secure a job.
On the other hand, your boss can speak directly about your work abilities, skills, attitude and achievements. The best time to ask your current boss to be your reference is after you have already received a contingent job offer. It would not be advisable, except in extreme circumstances, to ask your current supervisor to be a reference while you are still working on your job.
This scenario can be challenging in a situation where you don’t get a new job offer and then you continue working on your present job. Your supervisor might get doubts about your commitment.
At the end of the meeting, ask your manager how they would prefer to share the news to others. Some bosses might prefer to communicate the news directly to team members in a meeting or through an email.
In some companies there could be a policy where only the Human Resources team can communicate staff departures to all staff. In other companies it would be ok for the departing employee to communicate the news to either team members or all staff.
Some companies even have a culture of doing a farewell party for departing employees so team members would need to know your last day at work so that they can plan the send-off party accordingly.
Always remember to leave on a positive, friendly note. Never burn bridges!