One of the biggest obstacles people have to quitting is the worry that their boss might get mad at them when they give notice. Is your boss right to be mad at you if you quit? Find out below.
There is no legitimate reason for your boss to get mad at you for quitting, so long as you are not breaking a commitment you made to them. Since most conditions of employment are “at-will,” you are free to leave at any time for any reason.
Yet, many bosses do still get mad when you quit, whether it is right or not. Read on to understand why this happens, what you can do to prevent it, and how to feel good about yourself even if your boss gets angry.
Why Bosses Get Mad When You Quit
When an employee leaves, it puts additional stress on your employer. Usually, they will need to find someone to replace you – a costly and time-intensive process. Additionally, they will have to spend time and money training the new employee as they integrate into the business. All of this isn’t necessarily something they enjoy doing.
Having an employee quit is like discovering you have another tax return due in two weeks. It’s a lot of work and potentially a lot of money that you would rather not spend.
To a boss that is overwhelmed by the stress and obligation of running a business, this all may seem like too much to bear. Like most of us, they would rather put off this additional burden and plead with you to stay or get angry that you put this burden on them.
Some managers take a resignation overly personally, seeing it as a rebuke of their management style or even them as a person. This is especially evident in small businesses or teams where the leaders consider their employees family, even if they don’t necessarily treat them as such.
Sometimes bosses realize they were taking advantage of you. I’ve seen situations where one employee picks up the slack for the rest of the team and ends up being taken for granted. Bad bosses are eager to keep this up as long as possible if it makes their other employees happy and keeps them from being the bad guy or having to put in extra hours.
When you quit, they often get angry as a form of feigned victimhood. They know what they did was wrong but want to deflect any blame back to you.
One example of this:
“The other night shift people would get four day weekends, but I would be filling in the gaps so they could have off. I told the manager that it wasn’t fair. I had been there longer. I did most of the maintenance and most of the fill-ins when someone called in. She said, ‘I don’t know what to tell you.’ I told her I couldn’t take a 10% pay cut; she said, ‘I don’t know what to tell you.’ So I found another job and gave her three weeks’ notice. She got frigid: she realized that I was the key to her schedule, and since no one else could be flexible, no one could take off any more.”
Am I Wrong for Quitting My Job at a Bad Time
The most common tactic used by bosses who don’t want you to leave is the guilt trip. They will say, “Can’t you just stay until …,” or “Why did you have to leave right after…” The reality is that for them, there is probably no good time for you to leave. They would rather have you stay indefinitely.
So long as you fulfill your contractual obligations and commitments you made the company, you have no moral duty to stay.
Think of it this way, if your boss suddenly lost their customers, they would lay you off out of necessity. How much you need the job doesn’t matter. Or, if you were suddenly injured and couldn’t work, they would fire you too, even though you still needed the pay. Your boss isn’t your friend or family; they are an employer you are doing business with.
At the point that it no longer makes personal or business sense to do business with your boss, then it is time to leave.
As I’ve discussed in previous posts, if you are thinking of quitting the best time is now. Delaying a move for your career is hugely costly in terms of your total earning potential. And, statically, once you tell your boss you are quitting, your time with that company is bound to be short. Most employees leave a job within six months of resigning after their boss convinces them to stay or gives them a promotion.
How to Quit Without Making Your Boss Mad
Be as professional as you can when notifying your boss you are leaving. I recommend the following procedure:
- Tell your boss you quit in person
- Don’t give them negative feedback about your time working for the company
- Give your boss two weeks notice (or what is appropriate given your position in the company)
- Send the company a formal letter of resignation
- Have a plan to replace yourself and/or train others to handle your responsibilities
See the following posts for more details on how to quit in a way that will make your boss the least angry:
Be aware that even if you follow these guidelines, it is still possible for a boss to get angry at you. If they do, remain as professional and impassive as possible. Acting calm in the face of intense emotion will always give you the high ground.
If things get extreme, you can shorten your notice period since notice is generally a respectful formality and not legally required. “At-Will” employees may quit at any time for any reason without notice. And, any professional employer will understand why you left early in the face of abuse or retaliatory tactics from your old boss.
Why do managers get mad when you quit?
Managers get mad when you quit because they now must bear an additional burden: either replacing you or working extra to make up for your loss. While getting angry is unprofessional, it is a natural human response to stress.
Can your boss stop you from quitting?
No. Most employment is “at-will” in western countries, meaning either party can end the employment relationship without notice for any reason. Contractors may suffer financial penalties if they quit outside the terms of their contract, but they can still leave if they want. The only exception is the US is active duty military, who cannot quit without permission.
Do you have to give your boss a reason for quitting?
You are not required to give your boss a reason for quitting. While you are free to ask, it complies up to you how much, if anything, you tell them about why you are leaving or where you are going after leaving.