What steps to take after your boss quits

Uncertain about your future at the company? Get some clarity—and recognition—when your boss leaves.

What steps to take after your boss quits

Five steps to take as soon as your boss resigns.

Rarely do you know it’s coming. And even if you do, the news can leave you on uncertain ground, unsure of your future at the company.

We’re talking about that moment when your boss gives their two weeks' notice..

“It’s quite normal to feel unsure about the future and how things may change with a new person coming in to replace your boss,” says Jana Tulloch, human resources professional at Develop Intelligence, a software learning solutions company in Boulder, Colorado.

So when your boss quits, what are the next steps you should take to make sure you’re in the best position to succeed? Monster career experts provide some much needed advice to get you through the transition period of losing one boss and gaining a new one.

Step 1: Think “business as usual”

When your boss gives his or her notice, it might shock you. You might get a sinking feeling about what’s next for you.

The first important step is to be a pro about the situation and keep on keepin’ on.

“The best thing you can do in the short term is, essentially, what you always have been doing,” says Tulloch. “Don't let your boss’s departure affect your performance negatively, and don't speculate or gossip about why they may have left. If you are happy to see them go, don't broadcast it. Be professional and diplomatic, and if you feel you're able to pitch in more during the recruitment for a replacement, let the right individual know that you're able to step up if needed.”

Step 2: Ask the right people what comes next

When your boss quits, he or she will likely let you know soon after giving the news to their supervisor. Hopefully, your boss will tell you what to expect in the next few weeks, including who will fill his or her role (Will it be you? Someone else internally? An outside candidate?).

But in some situations, your boss may not talk with you directly about their departure or what’s to come afterward.  

“If you're not afforded the opportunity for a direct conversation, and your boss leaves abruptly, send an email to your HR representative (copying your boss’s boss), asking about the protocol/plan during the interim period of hiring a new manager,” advises Jan Watson, founder of Better Job Fit, a consulting firm specializing in talent management.

Step 3: Offer to take on some of your boss’s work

Your boss’s boss might immediately have a clear idea who will fill the role, but oftentime—given the surprising nature of an employee’s departure—it’s not set in stone.

It’s this in-between time that can open up a fantastic opportunity to get noticed by your boss’s boss, putting in the groundwork to show upper management that you’re committed to the company.

“Offer to pick up the slack until the role is filled,” suggests career coach Nancy Halpern of KNH Associates, a talent management firm in New York City. “Your initiative and team orientation will be noticed, and you'll be in a great position to help the new boss get up to speed quickly.”

Step 4: Schedule a meeting with your new boss

One of the most common scenarios when your boss quits is that you’ll start reporting to a different manager who already works for the company. If this is the case, be proactive and set up a meeting with him or her.

“Try to talk to others who have worked for them in order to try to understand their priorities and management style,” says Tammy Gooler Loeb at Tammy Gooler Loeb Coaching and Consulting. “If you already know the person, request a meeting to discuss their priorities and to share with them what you have been working on. Ask them what their expectations are of you or what they want you to be aware of going forward.”

Step 5: Demonstrate your successes for your new boss

Quick, can you name the top 10 things you’ve accomplished so far at work? If not, now is the time to create that reference list.

“Run through your entire year and document everything significant you've done,” says Scott Bradley, a Houston-based career coach . “This seems tedious, but within an hour or so you can have all of your recent activities listed in one place”

Like Bradley says, new managers will want to know what you’ve been working on, and the value you bring to the team. Having a reference sheet to point to will make the conversation much easier.

Know if it’s time to leave

It can take some time to get used to having a new manager. But sometimes it just doesn’t work the way it did with your old boss. If you sense it’s not clicking, stay on top of other opportunities in your area by getting job alerts emailed to you. Become a Monster member and receive weekly expert career advice as well as local job listings.