How to Fire a Friend and Opens Her Mouth and Lets Fly


I’ve known “John” since fifth grade. He had career success in his twenties, but it’s been downhill for him ever since. Recently, he got laid off, let me know he had almost no money and would do “anything.” A couple weeks later when my company needed someone to replace one of my entry-level employees who unexpectedly quit, I gave John’s name to our HR department. He got hired on my recommendation.

I thought it would work but John hated that I supervised him, and soon I hated it as well. It took John three times as long as any other employee to complete each task because he used cumbersome methods. Because I wanted him to succeed, I made a couple of suggestions. He reacted like I’d stabbed him in the heart and told me that his methods worked and “who was I to say?”

It dawned on me then that John was used to being the dominant individual in our friendship. In the month that followed, John not only critiqued me, he seemed to want to draw blood. For example, when I returned to the department after a weeklong business trip, he told me his favorite week since he’d been hired had been the week I was gone. He also never picked up speed. Others in the department began to view him as a problem hire. This morning my manager asked, “Are you going to fire him or do I need to do it?”

How do you fire a friend?


You realize that you’re not firing John, he’s firing himself. You may now know why things have gone downhill for him since his twenties. He appears to sing “You’re not the boss of me.”

John has clearly let you know he can’t handle your coaching or role as his supervisor. Make his firing as respectful as possible. You might say, “This isn’t working out for you or us.” If he asks why, respond briefly that it’s a situation of “job fit,” but don’t get drawn into an argument. John appears to be someone who needs to “win” and the more dignity you give him the better.

© 2017, Lynne Curry

Lynne Curry writes a weekly column on workplace issues. She is author of “Solutions” and “Beating the Workplace Bully” and founded The Growth Company, an Avitus company. Curry is now a Regional Director of Training and Business Consulting at Avitus Group. Send your questions to her at, follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10 or at

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