3 ways to react when your manager unexpectedly quits

Your manager’s sudden submission of a letter of resignation can leave you blindsided, but while things are about to drastically change, there are positive ways to handle the situation.

Get some information

Jennifer DeRome (formerly Jennifer Winter), who does consulting, writing and editing, writes in The Muse about how to get more information on your manager’s departure after writing about her own experience.

“So, doing a bit of covert research can help keep you informed and prepared. Whenever possible, go straight to the source for information (as, in, try to get the story from your boss, not from the rumor mill). If that’s not possible — or plausible if you have limited access to your manager — you’ll need to do a little investigating,” she writes. “Ask around the office, but try to limit your questions to more senior-level individuals you respect.”

Hit the ground running

The sooner, the better.

Janet Scarborough Civitelli, Ph.D., career coach and vocational psychologist, told BBC Capital via email about how to do this with a new manager after one that you really liked has left the company.

“As soon as possible, find out the expectations of the new boss and make sure your priorities are aligned,” she said in an email. “Get clarity about what your boss would like you to accomplish in the next 90 days. Avoid too much talk about the way things used to be. This is a new day.”

If you want a shot at that promotion, make that clear

Now is the time.

Amy Wolfgang, career coach and owner of Wolfgang Career Coaching, writes on her site about how to let management know that you could be a good fit for your former manager’s position.

“Within the first week of the announcement that your boss is leaving (or has left), subtly but directly let the decision makers – typically management – know that you are interested in stepping in. Schedule a one-on-one with the remaining managers to find out what initiatives your old boss was working on that you can continue,” she writes. “At the same time, drop the fact that you are going to step and do these things and you’re hoping to step into your former boss’ old role. Don’t boast or bash your old boss or talk too much – short and direct!”

Whether your former manager inspired you more than ever, or it’s a relief to finally see them go, use their departure as an opportunity to keep your eyes and ears open as you move forward. You’re bound to get a lot better at accepting change at work and at home.