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How do managers feel when you quit?

Quitting a job can be an emotional and stressful experience for employees and managers alike. As an employee, you may feel a mix of excitement, anxiety, guilt, or relief when giving notice. But how do managers feel when a valued team member decides to move on? Understanding their perspective can help make the resignation process smoother for everyone involved.

They May Feel Surprised or Blindsided

Often, managers are caught off guard when an employee announces their resignation, especially if there were no prior indications that they were unhappy or looking elsewhere. A well-performing employee quitting suddenly can feel jarring and disruptive to managers who thought things were going smoothly. Even if you’ve expressed some discontent privately, your manager may still be shocked you are actually putting in your notice. They may take it personally or feel betrayed, particularly if they invested significant time in your training and development. Making the resignation conversation solely about your development and career aspirations, not deficiencies with the role or company, can help soften the blow of surprise.

Disappointment and Frustration Are Common

It’s natural for managers to feel disappointed when a valued team member quits. There can be a sense of frustration around losing talent, disrupting team dynamics, and having to redo recruitment and hiring. If you are leaving mainly due to unhappiness with your role, your manager may become defensive or take it as criticism of their leadership. Explain that you appreciated their mentorship but are simply looking for opportunities better aligned with your skills and interests. Share specific examples of what you gained from working with them. This constructive approach prevents leaving things on a sour note.

They May Feel Anxious About the Transition

Managers understandably feel anxious about covering your responsibilities after you leave. Even with sufficient notice, backfilling a role brings uncertainty and extra workload during the transition period. Be as accommodating as possible by providing detailed handover notes, being available for questions, and helping hire or train your replacement. Offer to complete projects or transition outstanding work to colleagues. A smooth and organized handover will ease your manager’s stress and parting on good terms is beneficial for everyone.

Concerns About Team Morale Often Come Up

When a well-liked employee announces their resignation, it can negatively impact team morale. Remaining employees may become discouraged and start questioning their own future with the company. The manager has to boost morale while also managing the disruption of you leaving. Be positive when telling colleagues about your departure and explain you were offered an opportunity hard to turn down. Reassure them of their importance to you and that your decision is not a reflection of the team. Your manager will appreciate the care you take to avoid damaging team morale.

They Worry About Losing Institutional Knowledge

A major concern for managers when an employee quits is losing accumulated institutional knowledge. Regardless of your notice period, your unique experience, skills, perspective and knowledge of systems, processes and people will be difficult to replace. Offer to create a detailed handover document that captures the intricacies of your role. Be generous with your time in training replacements and answering questions. The more knowledge you transfer, the easier the transition will be for your manager.

Feeling Like They Could Have Prevented Your Resignation

Even if you are leaving purely for personal reasons or a great opportunity elsewhere, some managers still self-reflect about what they could have done differently to prevent you quitting. They may blame themselves for not providing enough development, flexibility, work-life balance, or not realizing you were unhappy sooner. Be sensitive to this by first expressing how much you enjoyed working for them. Explain precisely why you are leaving while reiterating that it is not a reflection of your experience on the team or with them as your manager. This prevents any self-doubt on their part.

Relief That a Poor Performer Is Moving On

In some cases, an employee quitting comes as a relief to managers if they have been disengaged, often absent or a poor performer. Rather than feel disappointed about losing a valued employee, they may actually feel like a weight has been lifted and look forward to backfilling with a more motivated hire. If your performance had been lagging, acknowledge it and keep the resignation conversation positive. Express gratitude for their patience and leadership, own up to any shortcomings, and offer to cooperate with the transition. This maintains good will and your reputation.

Concern About Losing a Friend and Colleague

It’s common for managers and employees to develop close working friendships, especially when they’ve worked together for many years. So your manager may feel they are losing not just a team member but also a trusted friend and confidante. Besides the professional loss, they may be sad about losing enjoyable daily interactions with you. Maintain the relationship by expressing how much you value their friendship. Arrange to meet outside work for coffee or lunch occasionally. The friendship can continue even without the professional connection.

How Managers Can Process Employees Quitting Positively

While managers can experience a wide range of difficult emotions when an employee quits, there are constructive ways for them to process it:

Strategy Example
Have an open discussion Ask questions to understand exact reasons for quitting without making assumptions
Avoid taking it personally Recognize frequently people quit due to personal circumstances or better opportunities
Reflect on positives Focus on accomplishments achieved together and progress made
Learn for the future Use resignation as a growth opportunity to improve as a manager

By discussing the situation openly, avoiding self-blame, emphasizing positives, and learning lessons, managers can view an employee’s resignation as a mutual growth experience.

How Employees Can Quit Respectfully

To ease the blow of resignation for your manager, here are some tips to quit respectfully:

Action Example
Give proper notice Provide standard two weeks or more notice aligned to role seniority
Meet in person Have the conversation in private, not via email or text
Thank your manager Express sincere appreciation for opportunities and support
Explain reason positively Frame it as a career move or great opportunity, not dissatisfaction
Assist with handover Create detailed handover notes, be available for questions

Giving proper notice, having an in-person conversation, thanking your manager, framing your reason thoughtfully, and ensuring smooth handover demonstrates professionalism and care for your team.

Key Takeaways

When valued employees quit, managers commonly feel surprised, disappointed, anxious, frustrated, or even relieved. By understanding their perspective, you can resign respectfully, maintain positive relations, and ease the transition. Managers can also view it as a learning experience and progress from the professional relationship. With care and open communication, quitting can be an amicable split beneficial for everyone’s growth and development.