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To quit or not to quit... how to tell your boss

By PETER KAMURI | Nov 15th 2013 | 3 min read
By PETER KAMURI | November 15th 2013


Can you look at your boss straight into the eyes and say, “I want to quit!”? For most people, this is hard to do.

In fact, it may be the most difficult career decision to make as an employee. Even among the most seasoned workers, informing the boss that they are leaving can be stressful.

This is because these are the last words any boss would like to hear, especially from trusted or reliable workers.  

People leave jobs for redeployment through promotion or moving to another department or company while others change jobs in search of greener pastures or to try something else. But when planning to leave, first talk to your boss.


Breaking the news to your boss that you want to leave can be difficult. However, the worst thing is to let the boss hear it from someone else. This can be hurtful.

Millicent Odongo, a career expert, advises employees to avoid leaving in a huff as this can hurt their career.

“First establish the reasons why you want to leave before you walk into your boss’s office to tell him your decision,” she says.

“Leaving or resigning without giving adequate details can be viewed negatively.

“You must also anticipate the questions your boss is likely to ask you. Why are you leaving? Where do you want to go? If the reasons you are leaving are addressed, would you drop the plan?” adds Odongo.

 Career experts argue that it is important to keep the decision to leave the organisation to yourself until certain things are clear in your mind.

Informing colleagues may have negative consequences, especially if the deal fails to go through or the you work for company makes an acceptable counter-offer that may be hard to resist.

However, it is advisable to give your employer adequate time before you leave.

Ambushing him with the news, “I’m leaving” or “I want to resign” can be devastating. This is because the company needs time to shop for your replacement. In some cases, you may be required to induct a new employee.

Avoid communicating your decision to leave through a telephone call, Short Text Message or email.

 A face-to-face meeting is a good way of showing that you respect your boss and the decision you are communicating has been well thought through,” advises Odongo.


“When you meet your boss, be prepared, frank and polite as you communicate your decision. Have an open mind as he may want you to have a discussion about your decision with him. Do not forget to thank him before you leave, of course with a smile,” she adds.

Experts advise that it pays to be wary about bosses who can scuttle your plans.

If you suspect your boss is likely to be unco-operative or a saboteur, timing is important and contacting other line managers for guidance may be advisable.

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