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You’ve decided to quit your job. Whether you got a dream opportunity, manifested your confidence to launch a business, or simply wished to break ties with your current employer, resigning is difficult.

Logistics and HR aside, most people fear the relational process of leaving a workplace. How will your boss react? Should you tell your colleagues first? Will word get out before you can speak to your supervisor? Negative thoughts can dredge up feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety that can exacerbate complex emotions.

This psychological discomfort and the social stigma attached to quitting can cause many employees to leave without notice, leading to exits that damage reputations. But there are ways to quit gracefully while keeping your relationships intact.

To find this balance, we turned to Nancy, who knows first-hand what it means to quit as both an employee and employer. Nancy resigned from her coveted role at Goldman Sachs to launch her multimillion-dollar business. Like many young entrepreneurs, she was internally conflicted about how and when to inform her boss.

“I remember how stressed out I was about telling my boss I was leaving after seven years, and it was one of the scariest things I had to do,” – Nancy Twine

As she grew her company post-Goldman Sachs, Nancy went from employee to employer, giving her further insight on resigning and how to lead in moments of transition.

Here’s her advice on what employees and employers can do to split amicably, with mutual benefits.

Give Sufficient Notice

Sufficient notice can vary depending on your role, company size, and other factors. You are not obligated to overextend yourself, but considering your employer’s needs can bring a sense of ease to the conversation.

“Leaving respectfully means giving decent notice — at least two weeks if possible — to help with some transition time,” Nancy shares, recalling her experience resigning from Goldman Sachs. “I stayed on for six weeks to help the team transition, which is more than most people do. But because I could afford to do that with my time, I did it as a courtesy and to show respect for what the company had done for me over the years.”

Be Trustworthy

From an employer’s POV, retaining confidence is important even during separation. Follow up on returning equipment, disabling access to certain files, and ensuring clear communication channels when relinquishing your role.

“People who leave and do the honest thing don’t take sensitive company data or files with them – especially when they’ve signed non-disclosure agreements,” Nancy says, “They don’t try to do anything that’s not right or ethical.”

Leave Peacefully

We’ve all seen them: the overly dramatic quitting scene in the movies where the employee has had enough. They yell at their boss and colleagues, papers are strewn about, and every offense is revealed before the big “I QUIT!” Unless you’re auditioning for Hollywood, Nancy advises holding back the dramatics.

“Leaving disruptively can mean many different things,” Nancy shares this example. “Sending inappropriate emails to the team or stakeholders in the business or even clients… Don’t do things that aren’t necessary.”

“Leaving in a tasteful manner is protecting your future.” – Nancy Twine 

How to Respond When An Employee Quits

Nancy’s advice is simple: Don’t take it personally if you’re the boss, lead, or supervisor receiving a resignation.

“From a boss or manager’s perspective, I’ve never gotten upset when someone resigns respectfully,” Nancy reveals “I could be internally a little disappointed or overwhelmed because I’m thinking, ‘That person was so talented. How are we going to find someone to replace them?’… but I’ve never been angry.”

What has shaped Nancy’s perspective? Her journey with quitting. “At the end of the day, I know how much thought goes into the process of deciding to leave an organization to pursue a new opportunity, and I can only be happy for that person,” Nancy noted, “Deciding where and when to work is such a personal decision, and it’s not fair for me to get upset with someone about that personal decision.”

The Bottom Line

Quitting your job without burning a bridge is all about the bigger picture. Your career follows you, and leaving respectfully can offer you protection. Nancy recommends keeping this in mind, no matter your next move.

“You never know who your peers or boss know in the industry. You never know who’s going to call them and ask them for feedback — even if it’s not a reference you’ve given,” Nancy explains. “There’s a concept called ‘back channeling’, where hiring managers may reach out to their network for  feedback, even if that person isn’t on a reference list. Even if you’re upset with the company or your manager, it’s important to think about the long haul and maintain good relationships that will serve as solid references in the future. You don’t want to compromise that on your way out.”

How did that feel? What did I miss? Share your wisdom in the comments!