How to inform your manager about your resignation

Even for the most senior and experienced among us, informing your manager that you intend to resign can be a difficult conversation.

Here in Japan, there are many things to consider when planning this meeting.

Appropriate notice period

One of your first considerations should be how much time you need to provide. This depends on a few things:

  • Whether you have signed a contract of indefinite length, or with start and end dates clearly defined;
  • What is expected from you at your company;
  • How much time will be required to find and train your replacement.

Each case will be different, but generally, you are required to provide at least two weeks’ notice. This is not always advisable, however, as it is customary to give more than a months’ notice in some cases. It is best to give as much time as you can.

Another consideration is if you, your team, or your department has any big deadlines or events coming up. If possible, it’s best to wrap up your time at your company after any big projects; this way, once the main stressor has passed, your decision to leave may have less of an impact.

When to organise your private meeting with your boss

Once you’ve decided the right time to announce your resignation, you’ll need to arrange a private meeting with your boss. Before you do so, you should consider what’s going on at work, and how stressed your boss is going to be.

As mentioned earlier, it would be better if you can have this discussion during a less busy time. Request 10 to 15 minutes of their time, and book a meeting or conference room if their office is not private. If you are unsure how well your news will be taken, consider requesting the meeting for a Friday afternoon; this will give you both time after the meeting to relax.

How to tell your boss you quit

Remember that your aim of the conversation, other than to announce your intention to leave the company, should be to keep your relationship with your boss intact. You want to leave the company on a good note and with a good impression, so be polite and respectful.

Begin the conversation by thanking your boss for their support but that, for personal reasons, you’ve decided to resign. They may ask you why you want to leave or if there is anything they can do to make you want to stay; whether you share this information with them or not should depend on your relationship with them. It is best that you remain polite but firm with them should they try to argue with you.

During this conversation, you should ask them what the formal resignation process is, if any. Some companies have a particular process they will want you to follow, and particular paperwork they’ll want you to fill out. Other companies will be less concerned with these details and may not expect much at all. Confirm these details.

At the end of your meeting, thank your boss for their time.

Follow up with an email laying out the details you discussed. This serves several purposes:

  • It will serve as instructions should you need a reminder;
  • It will provide an opportunity for your boss to confirm or clarify should there be any misunderstandings or forgotten details; and
  • Should any issues arise down the line, you have proof that you have done as you were told

What not to tell your boss

While it may be tempting to resign in a Hollywood-style display of anger and drama, less is more. You should strive to remain professional in order to leave with a good impression should you work with your colleagues again.

Don’t air grievances

It is best not to burn bridges. Now is not the time to complain about your colleagues or the company. It is permissible to share constructive criticism, should your relationship with your boss allow it, but if you are unsure, err on the side of caution, and avoid it.

Don’t share your reasons for leaving

Again, depending on the relationship you have with your boss, it may or may not be appropriate to share why you are leaving. Legally, you do not need to; your reasons are your own.

Don’t allow your emotions to take hold

You may be anxious, frightened, angry, or even excited and happy, however these can all be misconstrued and/or used against you. Remain calm and professional.

Don’t share where you are going next

You may already have a new job, or you may have decided to take a year off to travel. Regardless of your reasons why, you are not obligated to share your reasons for quitting and in some cases, it may be better if you do not.

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