I’ve been in this situation a few times. Both, when I have interviewed internally for other jobs, and then when members of my team were doing so. I’ve also interviewed people in other groups for my team. It can be an awkward situation, so do your best to keep it brief, professional, and positive.
Keep in mind that your manager may already know. Usually when members of my team were interviewing, I had an idea that either they weren’t happy or something was up. Also, if the new role is one that makes natural sense for you, it may be obvious. Sometimes it’s just time to move on.
Also, people talk. So if you’ve told anyone at the company, assume it may have already gotten back to your manager. That’s okay. Just be careful what you say. Good rule of thumb: don’t say anything to anyone at the company that you don’t want getting back to your manager.
Be straightforward, and keep your remarks short and sweet. You will probably need your current manager’s recommendation for the new job, so be careful about being too honest about your reasons for leaving. Do not use this opportunity to say anything bad about your current role. Remember that this person is still your manager, and may continue to be so for awhile.
If your manager asks why you are thinking about changing teams, keep your answer brief and neutral. A couple years ago someone on my team told me that they wanted to move to a different role at the company. They said that they felt it “was a much better fit for them.” They then went on for 10 minutes about everything they didn’t like about my team, and how much better the other team was. I felt like I was being dumped for the Prom Queen. And I was caught off guard. Not so much that the person wanted to leave, but how they chose to tell me. It didn’t leave me with a good feeling. This person didn’t get the new role, and honestly, in the back of my mind — and during performance review time — I always remembered their negative comments. Most managers don’t like it when their team is being compared disfavorably to another.
Be gracious and let your current manager know how much you have appreciated their support and help. Even if you don’t like them. Just be polite, and professional. Be honest about what help they have given you. Tell them that you have enjoyed learning from them, and will take what they taught you to the new role. Think of something specific that they have taught you and be genuine.
When you are interviewing for the new position, say positive things about your current manager. Again, people talk. And managers want team members who speak highly about them. If you bad mouth your manager in any way, your new prospective manager will worry you may do the same for them.
Finally, offer to interview and train the next person, and provide any support as needed. If you know anyone who would be a good fit, refer them.
This question originally appeared on Quora: How do I tell my manager that I am interviewing?