You're a few months into a new job or comfortably settled in after a year, when *explosion sound*—your boss announces that s/he is leaving. It's a jarring experience that can leave you feeling abandoned and panicked. A boss can be a huge reason why you accepted a job, and suddenly the situation is not what you signed up for. But bosses are people too, and having one that leaves before you do is a fairly common scenario. Here are some pointers in case it happens to you.
Understand Their Reason for Leaving
Ideally you've built the type of relationship where your boss will voluntarily tell you why s/he is leaving, because their reasoning can help shape your reaction. Sometimes people leave for personal reasons (wanting to live in a different city), or for professional reasons (like a new opportunity at a different company). If your boss is being pulled away to something new, then wish them well and be sure to get their personal email so you can stay in touch.
On the other hand, if your boss' reason for leaving is due to frustration or issues with the current company, then it's worth having an honest conversation with them. You deserve to know if there is info your boss is privy to or larger problems that you might not see. This doesn't mean you also have to leave—just try to get all the information so you can make your own decision.
Understand the Company's Coverage Plan
Your work continues even when your boss leaves, so understanding who is going to be overseeing you and your projects is critical to make sure a) you're still able to do your job, and b) you don't fall through the cracks at the agency. Your departing boss will most likely help create a coverage plan, but if not, talk to your boss' boss or HR team to determine who you'll be reporting to, and the timeline for finding your boss' replacement.
Make Your Needs Known
Your boss is typically the person who's most familiar with how you like to work, what you're working on, and the amount/type of support you need. Be sure to communicate all this to whomever will be overseeing you, the HR/talent development team, as well as other team members you work with. This is also a good time to address things that you need that you weren't getting from your former boss.
Seize Opportunities to Keep Things Running Smoothly
A departure can throw a team and company off its game, so find ways to help right the ship. Put together an on-boarding kit for your new boss—you have a lot of knowledge and insight into how the team functions that they might not have. Step up and take on more responsibility where you can—it can be a great way to show that you're ready for a promotion. Lastly, someone leaving can be a huge downer, so the more you can help keep the team's morale high, the sooner things will feel back to normal. Your attitude and demeanor is influential in the office, especially if there are interns looking up to you.
You got this,