My Boss Just Quit, What Do I Do?

John Hartley
5 min readAug 29, 2022

Don’t panic yet. Let’s dissect the situation and then if it still feels bad you can carry on with your hasty decisions.

As someone who has been on both sides of leaving, I hope this helps (also see “My Direct Report Just Quit, What Do I Do?”).

Note: It’s okay to feel abandoned. Especially if you like your boss, their departure can feel like getting hit by a freight train. But do not let the feeling consume you.

Take a day or two to process, then roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Understand what you can and can’t control

Your boss is leaving. There’s not much you can do about it. No amount of begging will get them to stay, nor should you beg.

  • You cannot control the departure of your boss
  • You cannot control who replaces your boss
  • You cannot control what their personality will be like
  • You cannot control how others are reacting
  • You cannot control how the team will change
  • To quote a colleague, “you can’t set yourself on fire to keep other people warm”

But, what you can control:

  • You can control the work you are contributing to
  • You can control your own reaction to the situation
  • You can control how you show up for the rest of your team
  • You can ask questions to better understand the situation

Keep this top of mind over the coming weeks and think, “is this something over which I have control?”

Ask questions

This is going to be a bit chaotic, there’s no reason to pretend it won’t be. That’s why asking questions is going to be one of the most important things you can do (you can even use this post to help).

Asking questions during this turbulent time is not only good for you but good for your team. Plus, your interim boss may not be thinking about those questions quite yet.

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John Hartley

Engineering leader with a passion for building and growing teams. Writing about leadership and management in the tech industry. Director of Eng @ Curology