My Boss Left—Now What?

My Boss Left—Now What? was originally published on Idealist Careers.

Every job has its challenges. But when you have a great relationship with your boss, you may not be as bothered by the downsides. At least in the day-to-day, you have someone that supports you and your career.

So what happens when your boss tells you that they’re leaving the organization? Before making a decision about leaving yourself, here are a few things to consider.

What does it mean for your position?

If you’re lucky, your supervisor may have given you a heads-up by confiding in you and bringing you up to speed on any work you may have to take on during a transition. It’s important that you get as much clarity as possible on what is going to happen to your role. These are just a few examples of possible outcomes:

  • In the best-case scenario, you could end up as a top candidate for your supervisor’s position, or at least take on a higher level role. This depends a lot on your qualifications and the organization’s history of promotion from within.
  • You may end up with a brand new supervisor (whom you could very well be responsible for training).
  • Responsibilities on your team may be shifted around, and you could end up with a different or heavier workload.

Raise any questions with your boss before they leave. Even if they don’t know exactly what the plans are for their replacement, they can certainly steer you towards the right people to ask. They can also put in a good word for you and make any necessary recommendations.

Evaluating what was keeping you in the job

If your supervisor’s exit has you considering jumping ship as well, it’s time to think about what—if anything else—was really keeping you in the job.

  • Do you love the mission of the organization, but hate the job? If this is the case, maybe your specific job is not a good fit, but there could be other roles within the organization for which you’re better-suited.
  • Were you staying in the position out of habit? It’s easy to get stuck in a routine, and the sudden departure of a favorite boss might force you out of your comfort zone.
  • If you’ve realized that having a great boss really was the only thing keeping you in the position, then it’s probably time to start looking at other options. While it’s wonderful to have a supportive supervisor, you don’t want to rely too much on someone else for your job satisfaction.

If you haven’t already spoken about it, it’s worth having a frank conversation with your boss about their decision to leave. If they know about any restructuring or changes coming in the near future, it can help you make a better informed decision.

Planning your next move

No matter whether you decide to stick around or start figuring out your own move, it’s important to plan ahead.

  • If you’re going to remain in your position, be sure to give your new supervisor some time to establish their own work and leadership routines. Be open to changes, but ask for what you need if you’re feeling shut out.
  • If you decide that you simply don’t want to stay on in the position anymore, try not to rush your departure. Take your time looking for other positions and organizations that are a better match for your goals and ideals.
  • Once you’re ready to leave, there are ways to ensure a smooth transition for everyone, and to ensure that you don’t burn any bridges.

Pro Tip: Keep in touch with your departing boss. Not only can they serve as a reference, but they may be a great resource and friend to have in the future.

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Have you ever dealt with your boss leaving? How did you cope? Tell us about your experience.

By Lakshmi Hutchinson - Idealist Careers
Idealist Careers
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