Exit Elegance: When to Inform Your Boss You’re Leaving

When a team member hands in their notice, whether it’s a two-week or four-week notice or longer, catching me off guard, I see it as a personal shortcoming. It signals to me that I didn’t create an environment where they felt secure enough to tell me when they first started thinking about leaving.

I want people with me who are not only living their professional dream but also their life dream. If I cannot accomplish this goal with my people, I want to help them find another place of work where they can find that deep fulfillment. In this context, I should know when someone is not happy or when they feel unfulfilled. Good leaders want people to be happy and people to come along with them who want to be with them.

When should your people discuss with you that they are thinking about leaving? When they start to think about leaving. This is the time when there might be a chance to change things in order to keep them, to help them, or even to walk the transition journey with them.

Normally, people work somewhere until they find a better job and hop on to the next best thing. If this is the type of company and team you are building, I assure you the constant turnover is sapping the potential from your team.

Make your goal to create such a positive relationship with those who work for you that you are talking regularly and delving deeply. You should be diving in often and early, even to discuss uncomfortable topics like moving on.

Some may say that if you tell your boss about your desire to leave, they will punish you or get rid of you before you are ready to go. True, this is a possibility. However, this is also about integrity. If I am unhappy to the level of leaving, and my leader does not know, am I really being courageous and honest and doing the right thing by not telling them?

The question here is: At what level of integrity do you want to live?

I am not referring here about a person who has a fleeting thought about leaving after they’ve had a bad day. I mean if you have a persistent feeling that you arrive to even after calm self-reflection, it’s time to talk with your boss.

Encourage your people and create trust and safety to openly share their thoughts about departure while they are still in the thinking stage. Make your company’s values not just honesty and integrity, but transparency.

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