I don’t want to tell my boss I’m quitting until after I tell the rest of my team

A reader writes:

I am on the precipice of accepting a new job offer, and I am having some trouble deciding how to approach my resignation. I know it would be best practice to notify my supervisor (Nancy) first, and then maybe HR, and the rest of my team, if a superior hasn’t shared the news with them by that point.

The trouble is, I’ve watched two former colleagues give their notice to Nancy, asking that they be given the day to personally announce their departure with teammates on-on-one, only to have Nancy walk into the middle of our department and abruptly announce that they are leaving, filling in any gaps in understanding with her own assumptions. She is a volatile personality and frankly one of the main reasons I’m leaving. I am very close with my immediate team (six people) and would be devastated if they did not hear this news from me and were stripped of the opportunity to ask questions or discuss my departure more privately.

Even going to HR first seems like a gamble because the VP of HR and Nancy are somewhat close, and private announcements have slipped through that way as well. Ideally, I would prefer to notify select team members on my own, then tell Nancy last, but I also know that would lead to drama that I’m not sure if I really want to deal with in my final weeks. There’s no way to spin that into a positive interaction.

Should I tell my peers anyway? Should I suck it up and let Nancy handle this however she wants because, even if I don’t like it, she is the team leader? Please help!

Generally, the protocol when you’re resigning is that you tell your manager first, then other people. The reason for that is partly professional courtesy and partly because your manager is the person presumed to have the greatest need to know, and she has an interest in being prepared to answer questions from others about how your work will be covered (especially if they’re worried they’ll have to cover it) and plans for hiring a replacement.

Also, managers sometimes want to ensure a resignation is announced in a way that minimizes drama, especially if you’re playing a key role in an important project or if your resignation comes right on the heels of someone else’s. Sometimes that’s a reasonable thing (managers should minimize drama) and sometimes it’s not (like if the drama is about their own bad management).

But a situation like yours, where your manager has a track record of announcing resignations with facts that aren’t true, is an exception to the rule. Given that, I don’t see anything wrong with discreetly telling a few people on your own ahead of time. But I want to stress discreetly and few. It’s not cool for the whole company to know before Nancy does, or for it to get leaked back to her before you’ve told her yourself. And even if you trust people to keep it confidential, they can be careless — you don’t want two of your coworkers discussing it in the bathroom and then Nancy walks out of a stall. So if you do tell some coworkers first, you should tell Nancy as soon as possible afterwards.

At the same time, though, you’re probably putting more weight on this than you need to. Your coworkers won’t be “stripped of the opportunity to ask questions or discuss (your) departure more privately” if they hear the news from Nancy first. They can still talk with you afterwards, and you can still answer their questions and give them the real story. And they presumably have the same set of facts about Nancy that you do and know to take her proclamations with a grain of salt.

You said you think it will cause drama if you tell coworkers first. If you trust them not to share the news and not to make it clear when they found out, and if you tell Nancy that same day, it shouldn’t cause drama because she probably won’t find out. But if there’s something I’m missing and drama is going to happen anyway … then there’s nothing wrong with following the normal protocol, telling Nancy first, letting her do her weird abrupt announcement, and then filling in your coworkers (who know Nancy and her habits) on your perspective right afterwards.

{ 105 comments… read them below }

  1. Fortitude Jones*

    Yeah, OP I’m leaning on the “tell Nancy first” side since she sounds exhausting and I know that when I’m planning to leave somewhere, the last thing I want to be right before transitioning into a new position is exhausted. If you tell your team before her, trust me, it will get back to her that you did, and then she’s really going to act a fool during your notice period (and if she finds out after your notice period, I wouldn’t put it past her to go to her buddy in HR to put you on the “will not rehire” list).

    Congrats on almost getting out from under this person – she sounds highly annoying.

    1. Lance*

      To add to that, does Nancy come out with these announcements every time someone tells her they’re leaving? If so, I’d trust people to not be taking them seriously, especially if it gets around that she’s not giving genuine reasons… and I’m sure it has gotten around, several times (after all, there must be a reason you know that they’re not real, right?).

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yeah, I get that Nancy’s drama and her end-of-employment announcements are ridiculous but they sound tolerable, unless OP is leaving out that she berates the job-leaver for leaving or otherwise insults them. But either way, OP, you can still tell your version of the story to your coworkers later. And I agree with Lance that they already know that Nancy is over-dramatic in these situations so they will know immediately that the story of your leaving isn’t what Nancy is telling them anyway.

        1. Elle*

          I wouldn’t say that she “berates” them exactly, but I know she’s not particularly nice. When my direct manager resigned, Nancy told her, “Good. I don’t think you’re suited to your current role.”

          1. PhyllisB*

            The main question I have is: if you tell Nancy first, will you even HAVE the chance to talk to your team? Will she allow you to work out your notice or will she frogmarch you out of the building? If it’s the latter, tell your team first and answer all questions/concerns they have and THEN go tell Nancy. Like immediately after.

            1. Elle*

              I won’t be marched out of the building because I’m the only remaining employee who does what I do. I’m sure I’ll be allowed to work through my remaining time, but I don’t imagine it’ll be a warm environment.

  2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Carolyn Hax has advice to the effect of “you can’t stage-manage your own life”. Typically this is brought out for engagement announcements, pregnancy/birth announcements, etc. Life isn’t a play, and you aren’t the author or director.

    It boils down to: once you tell someone something, it’s out of your hands.

    If you tell Nancy, she’s free to do whatever she wants with the information. If you tell your closest colleagues, they are free to do ditto. You can’t control what happens once it leaves your lips and hits someone else’s ear.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Good advice. It’s easy to misjudge where someone’s loyalties lie. The team may be more loyal to the OP than Nancy now, but if the OP is leaving, and they’re stuck with Nancy, they will deal with the news with that mindset. Staying on Nancy’s good side can take precedence.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Ding ding ding ding! Seriously, this right here. I’ve seen it.

        A former report told another department manager about her plans to give notice after she returned from vacation. Report thought that other department manager was her friend [they were, they hungout outside work, they both had young kids that played together etc.]. Yeah, the manager spilled the beans to the owner basically immediately.

      2. AKchic*

        When I was being courted for this job at my last job, I knew that if my officemate knew, she’d tell our boss (both of them were huge gossips) and I didn’t want the drama. I said absolutely nothing to anyone. I didn’t even tell my husband in case he accidentally said something to a coworker in passing (everyone knows everyone) or a former coworker who might say something to a current coworker.
        When I knew I got the job, I still sat on it because I didn’t have a start date. I did, at that point, tell my husband and told him he wasn’t allowed to say a single solitary word to anyone. Then I got my hire letter with start date.
        So, I put in my resignation letter… which coincided with my boss being on maternity leave, so I got to tell the CEO and COO (both of whom I liked). They both knew why I was leaving. I went to the bathroom, and by the time I got back from the bathroom my officemate already knew (CEO/COO told HR, HR and HR assistant told my boss, both my boss AND the HR assistant told my officemate; one as a matter of protocol, but both to be gossipy).
        My officemate spent my remaining time with the company trying to dig up all the details of my next job. She didn’t get a whole lot out of me other than “3x the salary and better benefits”.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Of course you can direct your own life!
      You just can’t manage the actions of others.

      We tell people that here all the time. You have to manage your own actions, emotions and situations. All of the workplace is really just performance: it’s rarely a true or genuine portrayal, more like wearing our ‘professional’ persona: at work, we are all players upon the stage.

  3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I can understand the temptation to tell your team first and then let Nancy know but it’s really just not worth it in the end. You need to complete your time here as professionally as you possibly can and this is that last painful step of being “the bigger person” and taking the high road, than letting Nancy’s bad behavior and attitude get the better of you one last time.

    Your team knows Nancy is full of crap. So they’ll ask you directly if you don’t get to them before they already hear it from the hosebeast herself. So I wouldn’t put so much worry into it.

    I was lucky and I was able to go directly from “I quit!” to bee lining to my reports to let them know what was going on before they could hear it from others. They all wanted out too, they all knew it wasn’t anything but the fact that the place was a tire-fire factory. Give your teammates that respect of knowing better than to believe what they hear from someone who’s a known drama llama.

    1. MissBliss*

      From your previous posts, it sounds like you do work in some sort of manufacturing context… so for a second I was wondering the purpose of a tire-fire factory. And then reality hit me.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        LOL, yeah it’s manufacturing. I had a real dumpster fire a couple of times but sadly no real tire-fires but now my dream is alive with the idea ;)

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            I’m awful and didn’t even think about the pollution issue…I’m such a dimwit because duh of course it does.

            Yikes and I thought mills burned forever, I never thought about the rubber factories. I hate the smell of a tire shop let alone if it was thick in the air for all those days.

          2. Bowserkitty*

            Dear god, I thought this was just a running gag in The Simpsons. Thank you very much for the link, this is a fascinating read.

  4. M from NY*

    If it will make things easier on your team tell them discreetly then tell Nancy immediately afterwards. You already know how she will react and with an end date in sight what can she really do in the 2-3 weeks of your notice period?

    The reason for telling your team is to address any possible issues that may arise with your departure. If everyone knows Nancy is drama queen and they still run back to her the fall out is on them. When you are giving notice you already have the new job, she doesn’t hold power over you anymore. Unless you’re in small field threatening to mark you badly with HR has as much power as putting a mark on your HS transcript.

    1. 2 Cents*

      This is what I was just thinking, like coming in at 9, telling your two closest teammates, then telling Nancy at 9:30 (or 9:02, depending on how fast news tends to travel in your office).

    2. Suzy Q*

      Also, why would you be “devastated” if your team didn’t know of your departure first, OP? That seems a bit much. People come and go from jobs all the time, and your team will be fine.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Eh! It depends how close they are.
        When people at my large company leave, they tend not to tell anyone and no announcements are ever made. At my last job SO MANY people were bailing they were trying to downplay it because of morale.

    3. Clisby*

      Seems like it would be easier to have an email ready to go to team members; give notice to Nancy; and as soon as you get back to your desk, fire off the email.

      Maybe I’m just an outlier, but this “I must discreetly tell team members in person before anyone else knows” sounds kind of wack. People leave jobs all the time. They’ll be fine without you. Or if not, they can move on, too.

      1. All Stitched Up*

        This is pretty much exactly what I was thinking–with the slight variation of scheduling the email to go out right at the time you’re expecting the conversation to end, so there’s REALLY no chance of her preempting you.

  5. MsClaw*

    Could you craft an email to the team members and send it out right as you get up to walk over to Nancy? Or even to send out right after you talk to Nancy? You may not be able to stop her from walking into the middle of things and making an announcement, but there’s nothing stopping you from sending out a message to your team (completely ignoring anything Nancy may have said, don’t dispute, don’t say ‘despite what Nancy said’ or ‘you may have heard’, just say your piece). If people have worked with you, they’ll probably know which version to believe.

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      This was going to be my advice. Auto send is your friend. Cue that sucker up and let it roll when the door closes on Nancy’s office.

    2. juliebulie*

      I was thinking something similar – draft an email for Nancy, and time it to autosend WHILE you are telling the team members.

      You could talk to Nancy and send the email to the team instead, but if you care more about the team members and Nancy is a loon, it might go better if you do it the other way.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I would not do that — if the meeting with Nancy gets interrupted or delayed, it’s much more likely she’ll find out about an email than a discreet conversation.

      1. Essess*

        I think queuing up the email and and then hitting send on your phone as soon as the manager meeting is over (before getting up from the chair in manager’s office) would be the best idea. You could write the email on your work computer then put it into your drafts if you don’t want to type the whole thing on your phone. Then before going into manager’s office, pull it up on the phone and have it ready to just hit send.

        As soon as you get ready to get up from the chair in the manager’s office, hit the ‘send’ button and say to your boss, “Now that I’ve let you know, I just sent out the email to my coworkers.” This way she knows that she was told first, but you’ve done your end run around her announcement.

        1. Mannheim Steamroller*

          I like this idea.

          Just make sure Nancy sees you hitting the “Send” button. Of course, she might still be upset with you for retaining control of the message, but she can’t really do anything about that.

        2. Parenthetically*

          Yep, this was my thought as well. Queue up the email and hit send as soon as you walk out of the meeting.

      2. Jedi Squirrel*

        I agree. Notifying coworkers first is a bit on the unprofessional side, and this is just leaving a paper trail.

        You can always tell Nancy first, and then email the details to your coworkers afterward. They are all too familiar with her seagull management style, and will appreciate the follow-up clarity from you.

    4. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Yes, this, but I’d say to send it from your personal email address, not your company one.

      1. Antilles*

        This also provides an easy explanation for why you sent the email – just include a simple “I’ve really enjoyed working with you so I wanted to pass along my personal email to keep in touch with everyone.”

    5. tamarack and fireweed*

      That’s exactly where my mind went. Have the appointment with Nancy at 2:00 and set the email to auto-send at 2:10. (Or a little later if punctuality in appointments is a problem. You might even set it up on your phone, and hit send the moment you enter her office.)

    6. The Very Worst Wolf*

      I’m not a huge fan of this as it seems aggressively premeditated and is like a flashing sign to your manager that you dont care how she prefers the message to disseminate. If one of my employees did this, I would feel pretty peeved.

      On the other hand, I generally dont mind when a member of my team discreetly tells 1-2 people before me, or when they ask to talk with coworkers themselves after talking with me. It speaks to a level of common respect and courtesy.

      I get that OP doesnt expect this level of courtesy returned to her, but I’d still hesistate to send a scheduled email like this. It so clearly reads as “I did this thing before you could tell me not to and timed it perfectly so you couldnt do anything about it.”

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        Sure, but she’s leaving. Isn’t that a good moment to set a somewhat stronger signal than you’d otherwise would? If I was the manager’s boss, and this happened, I’d put my ear to the ground about what the manager might have done to discourage a more considerate behavior by the leaver.

        (TBH, I would probably just tell everyone quietly just before the meeting in person. But if that sounds too risky re: triggering a stink, auto-message it is. A short and cushioned one, of course!)

        1. The Very Worst Wolf*

          Fair enough. I’m coming from the assumption that OP doesn’t want to burn any bridges based on her comment on wanting to avoid drama. From my perspective, the scheduled message idea would come across as aggressive, whereas a couple of private convos before resigning seems pretty normal.

          I’d go the more discreet route, because I’d be thinking about future references and whether there was much to be gained by burning a bridge.

          1. tamarack and fireweed*

            I’m not sure where you’re taking the impression from that the OP is mainly driven by the desire to avoid drama. I mean beyond, “don’t we all?” The only time she mentions it is in the context of doing exactly what you suggest she do, which she thinks will trigger the manager’s tendency towards drama: “Ideally, I would prefer to notify select team members on my own, then tell Nancy last, but I also know that would lead to drama that I’m not sure if I really want to deal with in my final weeks.”

            So drama seems to be a given whatever she does.

      2. Clisby*

        Why would a manager not want someone to communicate with team members about leaving? Rather, I guess I can see why a manager might not *want* that, but why in the world would they think they have any standing to ask that, much less dictate it?

        I do think notifying the manager first is the professional thing to do, but after that, the person leaving should feel free to talk to any and all.

        1. The Very Worst Wolf*

          Oh, I would fully expect someone to communicate with their colleagues after leaving. What I think *doesn’t* look good is scheduling an email to be sent while you are resigning in order to sneak your message in before your manager can have a voice in how her other employees should be notified about a business and HR change. I think ‘sneak’ is the operative word here.

          It’s also why I think talking to a couple of people discreetly has been the advice of choice. Doing so is more about personal relationships than getting one in over your boss. And generally, I think it’s a wise move to end on good terms with bosses (even those who are pills about resignations) because one day you might need a reference or another positive connection.

    7. Surly*

      Yeah, my suggestion is email your resignation to Nancy and copy it to your team, so everyone sees it at once.

      I’m thinking of a past job situation where I would not even consider telling my supervisor in person because of how abusive she was — so I guess if you’re telling her in person, that’s different.

  6. Close Bracket*

    OP, if your email program gives you the ability to schedule emails, I would 1) schedule a meeting with Nancy to tell her and 2) schedule an email announcement that goes out during your meeting with Nancy. That way you can truthfully say you told Nancy first.

    You could also just hit send on the email right before you go into the meeting with Nancy. That achieves your goal of putting your resignation into your words before Nancy can, but then you have told your coworkers before telling Nancy.

    1. The Very Worst Wolf*

      It doesn’t necessarily achieve the goal of resigning in a professional and congenial manner though.

      1. Mediamaven*

        No it doesn’t. People need to remember it’s in THEIR best interest to leave a positive impression.

        1. The Very Worst Wolf*

          Agreed. And given that OP wants to avoid drama and have a peaceful exit, yeah I’d say that’s true here too.

  7. NW Mossy*

    If it eases your mind at all, you can lay some groundwork for your peers by making it clear to them how to contact you outside of your shared workplace if they don’t already have a means of doing so. A personal cell number/email or social media accounts where they can talk with you privately might be a good solution, if your concern is being cut off from your colleagues due to Nancy’s reaction.

    1. Glitsy Gus*

      This made me giggle a little because there is sort of a thing in my office, when someone starts sending out Linked In invites everyone starts asking them when they are leaving.

      In the past there have been several times where you would get a Linked In invites from Bernadette then a couple days later an “Effective immediately Fergus will be taking over the Chocolate Teapot accounts from Bernadette,” email and Bernadette has suddenly disappeared from Outlook. It’s now a running joke any time someone sends an invite… especially because more than half the time they still are actually leaving.

  8. Elle*

    OP here! Thank you to everyone for your input so far. I think based on these suggestions, I may tell the closest 2 people on my team, perhaps over a lunch, and then immediately tell Nancy. Alison is absolutely right that I’m putting a little too much weight on this. Thanks for the reality check!

    1. hbc*

      I think anything beyond that would probably be getting right there in the drama with Nancy, honestly. Making sure your version gets out before you do the standard thing (i.e.: telling your boss) will appear like a dramatic move from the outside, however low-key your motivation.

      I sympathize, because it’s so easy to get sucked into that kind of dynamic with the best of intentions.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      That was actually going to be my suggestion except perhaps in reverse order – tell Nancy then grab the closest people on your team and head to lunch.

      1. Public Sector Manager*

        I like this approach better.

        The problem with telling your coworkers over lunch first is that one quick text or email from your coworkers to the rest of the team or to the office gossip during lunch and Nancy will find out from other people. While Nancy may not be professional, the OP should be. And then OP hasn’t avoided any of the drama from Nancy regarding the order of resignation.

        Meeting with Nancy right before lunch, then lunch with two close coworkers is a better schedule in my mind.

    3. topscallop*

      I would: tell one or two people discreetly right before you go in to talk to Nancy. Then go tell her, and as soon as you get back, tell the rest of your team (set this meeting up to take place right after your meeting with Nancy so she doesn’t have a chance to drop the bomb on your team.

      Also, this might be more drama than you want to contribute to, but if you’ve already told Nancy you’re leaving and she comes over to your department and starts saying inaccurate things in front of your team, what’s to stop you from (as politely as possible) correcting her? Or, as Allison says, since everyone’s familiar with her ways, just say something neutral until she’s gone, then offer to chat with people informally after she leaves, or go out for happy hour or something. They know you and they know her – they’re unlikely to believe what she says.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        +1 You can definitely politely correct her if she starts saying inaccurate information about you in front of you!

    4. Kiki*

      I think this is a good approach! It’s pretty natural to tell your closest work friends that you’re about to turn in a resignation because you accepted a new job offer. And that way if Nancy does try to imply something else is happening, there are a couple people on the team who know the truth and could privately answer answer any questions.

    5. Mannheim Steamroller*

      You should still draft an email before meeting with Nancy and send it from your phone at the end of your conversation (while you’re still in her office). That way, you keep total control of the message.

    6. Emily K*

      Yes, it’s hard to see it now, but by the time you’re 3 or 4 weeks out from this job you’ll have gained enough perspective that even if it it goes terribly, you’ll probably feel like it doesn’t even matter anymore, because you’re gone.

      I know some people check out mentally as soon as they give notice, but I can never really emotionally let go of my investment in a job until I’m actually out the door for good. And then it doesn’t take very long for me to suddenly wonder why Past Emily was so worried about making sure XYZ happened before I left, because it’s not going to be more than a minor inconvenience to the colleagues I left behind and it’s soooo not my problem anymore now that I’m gone. Obviously you don’t want to delete the entire database on your way out the door, but if you never get around to logging all your call notes, it’s really not the end of the world. Having some data missing or having someone else have to decipher your scribbles to log the calls isn’t ideal but the business will keep on turning if that’s where things end up standing when you leave. As long as you do your best to smooth the transition your colleagues, if you really had good relationships with them, are not going to forever remember you as Elle Who Left a Stack of Notes We Had to Transcribe.

  9. Morning Reader*

    This strategy will depend on your relationships with the people involved, but I told a couple of people on my team whom I thought would be most affected when I was planning for retirement. I didn’t have a date set yet and just mentioned that I was leaning toward retiring in the next few months and that I appreciated them keeping it confidential until there was an official announcement. When I was ready to set a date, I told my boss and then there was an announcement. It worked out fine as I was careful to pick people I trusted.

  10. Aquawoman*

    Can OP try to manage the information by telling Nancy right before Nancy has another meeting, then tell everyone else right afterward (while N is at the other meeting)? Otherwise, assuming she doesn’t get perp walked out of the building, she will actually get to talk to her team anyway.

  11. Jk*

    Here’s what I would do… And this is only if you truly trust the people you’d like to inform.

    Firstly, prepare your written resignation and get a copy for HR.

    Next reach out to those select few and ask if they’d like coffee before work on a day you know your boss will be there. Alternatively ask them to meet you quickly in a conference room before work begins that day. Be discrete and ask for their discretion too until you’ve told your boss. Let them know how important it is that you told them first – you obviously think highly of them.

    Get to work and/or leave the meeting and go straight to your bosses office and let her know your plans.

    I’ve done this before on a small scale. Just confirm her calendar is clear.

  12. June First*

    I remember feeling very frustrated at my first “corporate-style” job when I gave my notice. I was told that I should not tell ANYONE I was leaving until I had permission from grandbosses. Can’t remember how long I lasted, but knowing me I spilled it ASAP.

    1. Clisby*

      That seems really weird, but maybe I just led a sheltered work life (in both journalism and computer programming.) It wouldn’t have occurred to me to let my bosses dictate what I could say about quitting. I mean, I’m leaving. What can they do about it?

  13. Managed Chaos*

    For the sake of your professional reputation, I think you need to tell Nancy first. Telling others risks it getting out and it risks damaging your reputation with more than just Nancy. I also think you risk hurting their standing with Nancy if it gets out they knew first. She might think they conspired with you against her.

    Now if you have a work bestie or similar, I would tell them, but I wouldn’t tell your whole team.

    1. Boomerang Girl*

      I agree, and Nancy May have to approve final payouts of your vacation time and stuff too, so you don’t want to do anything that will cause her to drag her feet. Defer to her authority one last time.

  14. Blessed with Flushable Turds*

    Email 1: “Boss, can we schedule a meeting for X-o-clock on date?”

    Email 2: “Team, please plan to come to a short meeting for X-o-clock-minus-fifteen minutes on date.”

    1. Oilpress*

      I would do that but in the opposite order. Schedule the team meeting for right after that Nancy speech.

  15. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I mean, I tell my closest work-friends a lot of what goes on in my life, and a couple know every time I apply for another job, much less accept one. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with telling half a dozen people you’re close to on an informal basis, and if that happens to be all of your immediate team, that doesn’t mean that suddenly you can’t tell them. But I’d be sure they knew not to talk about it outside the team, and be sure you trust them all.

  16. Blue Dog*

    You have to tell Nancy first for your team’s own protection. Often, an employer will ask, “Have you told anyone else?” This isn’t necessarily sinister. They may want to control the message; they may want to make you a counter. But if you mention, “Yeah, I told Sven” it can cause HUGE problems for Sven. Did he know you were looking? Did he know you accepted? How long has he known? Why didn’t he tell corporate? And, most importantly, did Sven not tell because he has one foot out the door too.

    Bottom Line: Tell you boss first. Then you can tell you coworkers and explain how you just didn’t want to jam them up.

    1. Sara without an H*

      This. From the OP’s description, Nancy sounds just like the type who would take it out on the staff.

  17. Adlib*

    I really hope this name is changed because the person I know with this name is exactly like this. I told my boss about my exit, and as soon as she found out, she couldn’t stop herself from telling everyone under the sun & was a difficult person in general. I feel for you OP, but Alison’s advice is best. Glad you’re moving on!

    1. ACDC*

      I had a toxic Nancy as well (her name really was Nancy) once upon a time. When I gave my notice, she flipped out, gave me the cold shoulder for my notice period, and then spread the narrative that I was “an immature child who couldn’t take feedback and was only obsessed with money and greed” as the reason for my exit. Run away and never look back.

  18. linzava*

    There is a new weird trend in bosses asking we keep our resignations to ourselves. I fell for it once, by my last day, nothing had been announced and we were a small office. I realized either my boss forgot(unlikely), or he wanted my co-workers to believe I left without notice. I told everyone in the last 3 days and they figured it out by the way bosses were acting. Next job did the same thing. I agreed, but when it hadn’t been handled by the next day, I told everyone one by one over the course of the first week. Of course, it never was announced there either.

    Don’t leave your reputation in the hands of anyone else, the chances of you working for or with a co-working in the future are far greater than working for that boss again. If she asks you not to say anything, you can refuse to agree, or agree and tell everyone anyway. You don’t have to tell her that you told other people first either, it doesn’t matter because you don’t work there anymore.

  19. Mary*

    A senior manager did this to two people this past year, both of whom were publicly annoyed about not getting to tell their own reports that they were leaving.

    It was agreed that it was a shitty thing to do (twice! Right after she’d apologised got the first one, she up and did it the next!), but at the same time, the departing managers’ sense that it was VITAL that they tell their own team themselves was a bit—OTT? One of them was my manager and she was sending out terribly apologetic, “I’m SO SORRY I wasn’t able to tell you personally, the decision was TAKEN OUT OFT HANDS” emails. Our attitude was kind of, “…uh, ok?” She clearly felt that she was leaving us in the lurch and the very least she could have done was explain her reasons personally, whereas we were briefly surprise (it was quite out of the blue) and then shrugged and moved on. As annoying as it is, I think it’s a slight on *you*, rather than a slight on your team.

    1. Mary*

      … My last sentence vanished! It’s a slight on you, not on your team, and whilst it’s ok to be irritated by that, hey, that’s why you’re leaving!

  20. TootsNYC*

    Call an “emergency” meeting of your team the moment you get back from telling Nancy. Or if you can predict the timing, set a team meeting (in a conference room on another floor) about 15 minutes after you think your meeting with Nancy will end. Maybe tell someone on your team that you might be a little late, and would they have everyone wait for you. Or gather them a little early (“Since I just got out of that meeting, let’s meet now instead of waiting another 20 minutes, we can get it over with”)

    Write an email with what you most want to say, and save it as a draft; hit send on your way out of Nancy’s office.

  21. Summertime*

    This article reminded me a lot of a point Allison has made in the past: when you’re in a toxic workplace, you try to exert control over smaller things that you otherwise wouldn’t because those are the only things you have any real control over. I’m not saying that what OP is fighting for is small or insignficant, but OP having no control over this is due to a toxic workplace/Nancy.

    I’d argue that, in this case, OP has little control over the narrative regardless of what she does. Nancy is the one that is staying with the company, and she may choose to spout nonsense when you’re not there to defend yourself. I think OP should think about operating in a way where the last few weeks of her time are bearable. If Nancy is going to throw a fit over OP announcing her exit her way and take that out on OP, I think the stress-saving option is the way to go. Not all hope is lost because your coworkers know Nancy is crazy and what you tell them about your departure will have more weight than Nancy’s announcement.

    And when you leave the job, remember that you could not control the narrative because it was an unhealthy environment, not because you didn’t operate properly.

    Congrats on getting outta there!

    1. Elle*

      You hit me right in the feels with, ” you could not control the narrative because it was an unhealthy environment, not because you didn’t operate properly.”

      As a whole, your comment sheds a lot of light about why I’m approaching the situation this way.

    2. Drew*

      This is a great point. I had an ex-boss who would say all the right things to your face when you were still in the office and then blame you for all of her inefficiencies and stupidities as soon as you were out the door. It was like a never-ending series of scapegoats that probably saved her job for months longer than she would have had it otherwise. Finally a C-level I knew well took me to lunch to ask why Boss had a steady stream of bad ex-employees, figuring I guess that she didn’t know how to hire. I told her it was totally the opposite, she hired great people and ran them off and blamed them after they left. Guess who the next person to leave was?

  22. Oof*

    I think it’s fine to touch base with your team first! I’ve done it, I’ve been given the tip-off, and it has always been really great. It just comes down to trust and need. If you have both, go ahead!

  23. LGC*

    I am totally extra but…in this case I’d set an email to send while I was meeting with Nancy. She might be terrible, but she’s not faster than the speed of light.

    Also congratulations on getting away! Hopefully your new job is fabulous!

  24. Shoes On My Cat*

    Talk to your close co workers and set a date to meet after work for coffee/tapas/etc. then that day announce your resignation to your boss and h/r. Then later that night you will already have your gang set for post resignation questions as well as commiseration regarding your team lead’s crazy drama

  25. Renee*

    Been there, done that, my manager was one of the last to know when I left my most recent job.
    You have the choice on how you disseminate the information. You already know that Nancy will not treat you with respect, so don’t give her yet another opportunity to cause havoc.

  26. JSPA*

    I’d let a few key team members know, shortly before your meeting with Nancy, that you’re going to be moving on–said with a warm smile and a handshake–but that you are waiting on your discussion with Nancy to set a specific date, to ensure that your exit does not inconvenience anyone more than necessary. Give them your personal email (if they don’t already have and use it), saying that you do not anticipate an abrupt exit, but you want them to have your contact information in case of any loose ends, all the same.

    That way, Nancy is the first one to have your actual plan, but your team is forewarned in the abstract. And they also know that if you’re suddenly ejected at the speed of sound, with your box of personal items following you by mail, and a statement that you were let go for Reasons, that Nancy is full of it.

    I also like the idea of scheduling the team meeting in some slightly unusual location unknown to Nancy, shortly after your resignation meeting with Nancy.

  27. Lobsterman*

    Unless you are under contract, 2 weeks is a courtesy. If your boss is unpleasant while you are offering a courtesy, and you can afford it, take an unpaid vacation?

  28. Diamond*

    I told my beautiful team of 3 before telling our notoriously difficult boss. 3 isn’t many though and I knew they were all very discreet. If you want to tell your team I would tell your boss immediately afterwards so nothing leaks back to her as 6 is slightly more difficult to control.

  29. MissDisplaced*

    I think its ok to tell your team first, but just before you tell the manager. However, the message to the direct team should be brief, with a head’s up to be discreet until Nancy is told and makes her announcement about it. The only way I wouldn’t do this is if the office is exceptionally gossipy.

    I really don’t get why so many people seem to think Nancy should get to control this when she’s done it so badly and incorrectly in the past? I’d want very much to tell those I care about first and control that message myself.

  30. Anon Librarian*

    Can you tell them back to back? Hold a meeting with your team (or a few of them) and then tell Nancy right after? Right after they’ve had a chance to ask questions and get all the info they need?

    Secondly, there’s a secret to the slander and backstabbing problem. It is (generally) directed at people who are seen as more successful or more talented or more full of potential. It is usually motivated by jealousy or insecurity. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes, it’s more of an insider/outsider thing – directed at the person who stands out as different. But this really sounds like the former. She’s jealous of people who have options and are moving up in their careers.

    The trick is to ignore it or react minimally (as far as other people know) and to let the frustration motivate you to fulfill that potential that the backstabber sees in you. Find a place where you can tell your story accurately, and work as hard as you can at moving your career forward and getting to wherever you want to be.

    She’ll get a reputation for being this way if she doesn’t have one already. So it’s not your problem. You’re leaving. Focus on the next step.

  31. Pennalynn Lott*

    My manager called me on my way into to work to tell me that he was quitting that day. He also told me (since I’m new) that people at his level are typically walked out within minutes of giving notice. Based on that, he didn’t even have to tell me to keep my mouth shut. Sure enough, an “emergency” all-department meeting was called at 1:00 that day to announce his departure, with the company’s own spin on it (which my manager couldn’t counter because he’d been shown the door at 8:35 AM).

    So, if the OP doesn’t tell her team beforehand, AND she is immediately shown the door, then the only way to express her side is to reach out to people individually on their cell phones afterward.

  32. Lord Gouldian Finch*

    I wonder if you could set a team meeting for, say, 3pm and then hand in your resignation at 2 or 2:30, so after your manager makes her announcement, you then use your scheduled meeting to discuss the actual facts and any transition planning.

  33. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    If you’re close to your team then I’m sure they’re aware of how Nancy is and will take anything she says with a grain of salt. Assuming you’re not going to quit and then immediately leave the building, you will have time to talk to your team members after the fact. In the past, I’ve kept friends in the loop on job searches and may have told a few here and there before quitting, but it’s best to tell Nancy first. Your team members aren’t going to believe the BS Nancy spreads or turn on you because you told her first.

  34. I Like Math*

    This one time, I quit a job by giving notice to one of the three owners. He asked me to not tell the other owners, but to go ahead and interview/hire my replacement. No other owner ever spoke to me again, and he did only when completely necessary. Which did not include during any of the hiring and training of my replacement. It was… bizarre.

  35. BookLady*

    In a recent job, 3 out of 5 of us on the team were actively looking for jobs because our manager was terrible. We were all rooting for each other, sharing jobs we thought the others would be good for, and keeping each other posted on interviews we went on. (It was about 9 months of job searching, all told.) We even acted as peer references for one another.

    So of course we told each other first when we all found new jobs, but we did it the way Alison suggests. Be discreet, make sure the people you’re telling can be trusted to keep it under wraps (and to act appropriately surprised when the manager does announce it later), and tell the manager as soon as you can after you tell the rest of the team.

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