Career Advice

What to Do When Your Manager Hints That You Should Quit

At some point in your career, you’ll question whether you’re on the right path. This reflection is good, but when your boss begins questioning that, it’s time to take a serious look at what you’re doing and why.

If your boss makes a suggestion that you may want to look for another job, there are a few steps you can take. In the end, it can be a positive experience that leads you to a happier and more fulfilling position.

Step 1: Assess What You Really Want

The first thing to do in this case is to step back and consider what direction you want to go in your career with this company.

In a 2016 survey, 31 percent of respondents reported fear of unemployment and financial loss as their top concern. As such, hanging on to a job they (or you) no longer love is an easy way to avoid this potentially life-changing issue. This is when it’s time to get real with yourself.

Career coach and success strategist, Carlota Zimmerman, JD., says: “You should be honest with yourself: do you really want this job? It’s hard enough to fight for what we want in this life; it’s immeasurably more difficult to fight for something that no longer speaks to us.”

If your answer is no, I don’t, it’s time to start looking and move to step number three. If you do, take it to step number two.

Step 2: Meet and Discuss Next Steps

You know that you want to stay with the company, so schedule a time to meet with your manager and discuss how you can move forward. This is a good time to talk about what issues the management team sees, where they feel you fit best within the company and what you’d like to do—Do you want to move laterally into a new position? Do you want to prepare yourself for a promotion?

“No one cares more about your career than you do, so take proactive steps to work with the manager to either improve in the existing position or develop a transition strategy,” explains Amanda Haddaway, Managing Director of HR Answerbox.

Within that meeting, you need to share not only what you want moving forward, but also how you plan to address the original issue.

“Admit to your mistakes, and provide a specific plan to show how you will improve. This shows responsibility, dedication, and work ethic. Follow up your conversation with an emailed recap. That way, your boss has a record of your commitment and can help to hold you accountable,” says Amy Cooper Hakim, Ph. D., the founder of The Cooper Strategic Group.

Step 3: Make a Transition Plan

What if you decide that you really don’t want to be in this job anymore?

“If you’re an employee and you know you’ve checked out at your job, your options are to ride it out or face the truth,” says Robby Slaughter, principal with AccelaWork.

Slaughter suggests that riding it out could ultimately affect your career overall, making it a poor choice in the long term. This is where your transition plan comes into play. The first step: stop slacking at work. If you want a good recommendation for interviews, it’s important to avoid burning any bridges or acting like you don’t care.

Next come the details. While applying and interviewing, consider the best way to handle transitions within your current position:

  • Health insurance: How long does your current company cover you for? Often, they will until the end of the month. Some health plans will offer a transitional option if you need something to hold you over.
  • Contacts: Unless it states in your contract that you must cut all ties with contacts made while at your company, it’s time to start saving them in a personal account or doc.
  • Resignation letter: When you do accept a new job, the expected custom is to write a letter of resignation, stating your decision to leave the company. At the same time, draft a professional email to send to employees, explaining your departure.

When you leave the company on good terms and show your manager respect, you’re more likely to reap the benefits later.

The Final Word

Hearing that your manager isn’t happy with your performance is never easy—in fact, it can be really hard to take. If you’re honest with yourself, though, you may find that you don’t want to be in the position anymore and this was a wake-up call for you to assess and move on or move forward within the company. Either way, you’ll likely be happier in the end, and that’s the most important thing.

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