You can tell a lot about a boss from how they react when you give your notice of resignation. I’d argue it says even more than when you start a new role.

While saying goodbye to your top talent is never easy, I’ve noticed time and time again that standout leaders have the ability to make tough exits a harmonious and positive experience for the employee and the team. The bad bosses, on the other hand, tend to take it as a personal attack and make it known that they, and the company, are scorned by the employee’s decision to move on. 

They undercut their decision by talking poorly about the role or company they’re moving to, they try to make them feel guilty, and they spread their resentment throughout the rest of the organization. When this happens, it doesn’t prevent the employee from leaving or make them regret the decision they’ve made. In fact, it does the opposite. 

It shows the employee that the boss they’ve developed a professional relationship with doesn’t actually care about their growth (or others, for that matter). It reveals that they’re insecure and selfish—and someone that the employee will be happy to leave in their rearview mirror. 

I always encourage leaders to build good business karma by staying supportive through goodbyes. While an employee’s exit might be the end of one chapter, it doesn’t mean you should set fire to the relationship you’ve developed with them. Not only is it bad for that relationship, but it’s bad for business. 

Let’s explore why the best bosses aren’t afraid to say goodbye, and why harmonious exits are better for everyone: 

  1. It shows you’re confident in your ability to develop new talent. Great bosses thrive when they’re helping employees build the skills they need to succeed. They’re people leaders that genuinely want to see their team flourish, not only within their company, but everywhere. When an employee leaves, they’re not threatened by it because they know that they’ll be able to help another team member develop and fill those shoes. 
  2. It keeps the door open for future opportunities. When a leader shows their support for an employee when they’re on their way out, it affirms that they genuinely care about their progress and happiness. If the employee’s new role doesn’t work out, they’re much more likely to come back. Even if they don’t, they’ll still remember the positive experience and could refer more star players to you. 
  3. It shows other employees your true colors. Undercutting an employee when they give their resignation doesn’t just do irreparable damage to your relationship with that employee, but it shows others that they can expect the same treatment if they decide to move on. It demonstrates to them that their employer doesn’t respect employees or value them beyond the labor they provide. When this becomes clear, it’s difficult to regain their trust and maintain engagement.

We all hate goodbyes, but don’t make them harder than they need to be.

Be there to provide the guidance and encouragement your team needs to succeed, and be happy for them when they reach the milestones your leadership has helped them achieve. When you do, you’ll help them remember you as one of their best bosses ever—not one of the worst.

And who knows, maybe one day that relationship will help you advance in your career!

What do you think? Have you worked for a leader who supported you through a departure? Join me on LinkedIn and let’s continue the conversation. 

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