How to Fire Someone You Like

How to Fire Someone You Like

One of the most challenging decisions for an employer is to fire an employee, most especially someone you like.

This can cause a lot of emotions to run through your mind and is often a difficult one to make.

While you might wish to let them continue with you, every piece of evidence shows that it is in your best interest to let them leave.

How do you do this?

As an employer and/or business owner, you would likely agree that the success of your business depends to a large extent on your employees. 

Choosing the right talents and individuals with the right work ethics will ensure you run a successful business. 

And that is why you don’t joke with the process of recruitment, always looking out for the right fit for your organization. 

However, there are times whereby some employees do not align with the goals and objectives of your firm. 

It could be that they lack the needed skills, are unproductive, have poor work ethics, or are simply not the right fit for the job. 

The first line of action for you as the employer is to see how you can help these work on the areas they are lacking.

This is especially so when the employee is someone you like for some reason. 

Nevertheless, there is always a window for improvement, after which the progress of the employee is measured.

If the employee in question consistently fails to make improvements in the needed area, you might be left with no option but to let them go. 

Firing someone you like is not an easy decision to make, but it is one you might need to make for the good of your business. 

You will see how to make this important decision if necessary, professionally. 

How to Fire Someone You Like – What it Means to Fire Someone 

In every business organization or establishment, there is a standard process of getting employees.

This is often referred to as the recruitment process.

It involves the human resource department of the organization sourcing for the best talents well suited for a position in the firm and hiring them. 

They might be brought in as full-time employees of the company, part-time workers, contract staff, or freelancers as the case may be. 

This decision is made bearing in mind the needs of the organization and what works best for the vacant role. 

However, there are situations whereby after some time, you as an employer might decide that an employee is no longer a good fit for the firm. 

It might have to do with his/her performance level, attitude towards work, approach to set down rules and policies e.t.c.

At such times, after efforts have been made for other solutions without success, you might decide to relieve the employee of their duty. 

That is when it is said that you have fired the person or employee. 

To fire someone means to make the person leave their job.

That means you end all working relationships that exist between you, your business, and the individual in question.

They no longer work for you, and as such are not seen as an employee of yours. 

Sometimes, the person you might need to fire for obvious reasons might be someone you like. 

However, the presence of that person in your organization will do more harm than good for the business. 

That is a difficult decision to make, but one that has to be made. 

And in a later part of this post, you will see how to be professional about firing someone you like and not letting your emotions get in the way. 

Why You Might Need to Fire Someone You Like 

To be sure, someone you like is someone you feel an attachment to and you have come to be fond of. 

This person might be your friend or an employee you have just grown to appreciate for who he/she is. 

It could be that there is a certain aspect of their personality that makes you drawn to them. 

With this description, it might sound impossible or irrational to fire someone you like. 

However, as a business owner, sometimes it is a decision you have to make.

Here are some reasons why it might be necessary to fire someone even if you like them:


This ranks as one of the main reasons why employers fire employees today. 

As an employer or business owner, you have certain expectations and requirements you have of your employees. 

Whether they are working full-time or completing a project for you on a contract basis, they need to meet up with set requirements. 

These requirements might include their level of productivity, work efficiency, and work output. 

It is when your employees meet these set requirements that you can say they are competent in their roles and duties. 

However, there might be a situation whereby one of your employees has continually shown incompetence to varying degrees. 

One of the first steps you take in such circumstances is to let the employee know of this and that he or she needs to improve.

This is because incompetence can cause your business to suffer losses and threaten the sustainability of the business. 

If there is no foreseeable improvement in the productivity and/or efficiency of the employee, then they might have to go.

Because of this reason, you might have to fire someone, even if you like them.

Gross Misconduct 

Another reason you might need to fire someone you like is if they engage in gross misconduct. 

Some of these acts of misconduct in the workplace that might warrant termination are fraud, sexual harassment, extreme violence, or other criminal activities. 

In fact, for most of these misconducts, not only do you fire employees, but it could also result in taking up legal actions. 

Even cases of incessant workplace bullying can also be misconduct, which can warrant termination. 

Therefore, even if the employee is someone you like, this is also a valid reason to fire such one.

How to Fire Someone You Like – Constant Violation of Company Policies 

Your company policies are essential parts of your brand image and also integral to your brand reputation. 

Many of these policies might be industry standards and government regulations, while some might be internal policies for your business. 

Whatever the case, these are very important, and your employees are under obligation to follow them and work by them. 

Therefore, if someone has made it a habit to constantly violate these policies, he/she is putting your brand image and reputation at risk. 

And it might be in the best interest of your company to fire that employee, even if he/she is someone you like. 


Insubordination in the workplace is yet another reason why employers might decide to fire employees.

Acts of insubordination occur when an employee consistently looks down on authority and has a habit of disrespecting those in superior positions. 

There is always a hierarchy in every organization that shows what authority is and who each person is accountable to. 

If there is an employee who constantly and deliberately refuses to respect authority, then it can affect the proper running of the business. 

In that case, you can decide to fire that employee after even if he is someone you like. 

Destruction of Office Properties 

Not every case of destruction or damage of office properties would usually result in termination of employment or firing the employee. 

There are times when this might happen accidentally and you can excuse the employee for that, with minimal consequences. 

However, when there is a deliberate action that destroyed office properties, then that is a different case entirely. 

Also, if the individual has made it a regular habit to destroy such properties with little or no regard for repercussions, then it might warrant a bigger consequence. 

In such situations, you can decide to fire the employee, to save the business from further ruin/damage. 

Chronic and Regular Absenteeism/Lateness

One of the hallmarks of a great employee is punctuality and regularity at work.

Given that, when an employee forms a habit of coming late to work regularly or worse yet staying away from work often, it is a cause for concern.

Of course, as a considerate employer, it is good to know the reasons for this and take the necessary steps to address it, hoping for a change in attitude. 

However, if these measures do not work and the poor habit continues, then it can also be a basis for firing someone, even someone you like. 


Sometimes, a need to fire an employee might not necessarily be a fault of theirs but a necessity for your business. 

This might be borne out of a need to downsize or reduce the staff size because of low income or revenue. 

The goal of running a business remains to boost sales and maximize profits while solving a human problem or need. 

Hence, when your business is no longer meeting this objective/goal, then there might be a need to downsize.

During this process, some employees’ appointments might be terminated or they are fired,  and this can even affect someone you like. 

How to Fire Someone You Like – Steps to Take 

Firing anyone is hard in itself, let alone someone you like, and this can be a real cause of concern and a difficult task for any employer.
You need to show emotional intelligence in determining the best way to go about this decision.
Also, you need to put the other members of the team into consideration, as the way you go about this can likewise affect them.
It is worth noting that deciding to fire someone shouldn’t be the first option but rather a last one after you explore other options.  
If it has to come down to firing an employee and someone you like, here is how to go about it:

Determine If You Can Resolve the Issue Another Way 

Firing an employee especially when it is based on performance-related issues should not be the first resort.
This is especially important if it is someone you like. 
As an employer, if you notice poor performance, the first thing you want to do is explore the option of helping the individual to improve. 
More often than not, there are always going to be improvements from the employee when you guide them properly and give them time. 
Hence, even before deciding to fire someone you like, take a moment to consider if the problem has an alternative solution.
If the problem persists after taking this measure or you cannot solve the issue with time, then you can proceed to the following measures. 

Plan What You Will Say

You will only be shooting yourself in the foot if you go into a conversation on firing someone without planning. 
Do this, and you will risk making the situation worse when you do not choose your words carefully.
We recommend that you write down what you are going to say and even rehearse it.
That way, during the conversion, you do not speak spontaneously, risking the use of words that will worsen the situation.
Instead, you choose your words carefully and can deliver the news effectively. 

How to Fire Someone You Like – Be Clear on What the Issue Is 

One mistake you will make when firing anyone, let alone someone you like is not providing them a reason for your decision.
They deserve to know the reason why they are being let go and this should be clear. 
So you need to determine what the main issue is; whether it has to do with job performance, work ethics, gross misconduct, or other things. 
Failure to do this, and the employee you are firing might feel aggrieved and see the decision as one that is unfair. 
But if you are very clear on what doesn’t satisfy you, which is mostly something you previously talk to them about, the news is easier to accept. 

Control Your Emotions 

If you are firing someone you like, one thing that is sure to be flying around during the conversation is emotions, not shoes. 
Because this individual is someone you care about, it can be a huge struggle to control your emotions and keep them in check. 
Sometimes, during the discussion, you might become emotionally charged, which can affect what you say. 
At such points, it is best to pause a little and control your emotions. 
Allow a few seconds to pass, while you get yourself back together and not allow your emotions to get the better of you. 
This will help you to effectively communicate the news to the employee. 

Choose the Right Place and Time 

When telling someone you like that you are firing them, not only is the content of the message and presentation important but the place and time are also. 
When it comes to the place, the best setting for delivering such news or having that conversation is a face-to-face setting. 
Avoid telling them about this or having this conversation over the phone or by text message.
It doesn’t dignify the person you are firing and can make you lose the respect of other employees.
As regards the time for this conversation, it is equally better to schedule this at a time when other members of the team are not at work. 
This is to allow the employee you are firing to better be able to deal with whatever shame, disappointment, or embarrassment that might result from this. 

Avoid The Blame Game 

While in most cases, the reason for termination of employment is often down to the employee, you do not need to point fingers while firing them.
Before this time, you most likely have had conversations about performance and efficiency with them, which requires improvement (if that is the reason for firing).
Hence, during the conversation where you tell them they’re being let go, try to be as professional as possible. 
Your professionalism shows by telling them things didn’t work out instead of simply dropping blames on their table. 
They already feel worse about their current situation and you won’t be helping them feel better by pointing fingers.

Show Empathy, Yet Be Firm 

The reason you like the employee you are about to fire might be because of some of their fine qualities.
Do not forget about this when you are dropping the huge news of their termination on them. 
Try to show empathy for the employee, by putting yourself in their shoes.
Also, be as kind and calm as possible in your presentation.
However, while you show empathy, you also want to be firm with them, so that you don’t give them false hopes.
At this point, you have your decision, and therefore, being too soft might reduce the weight of the decision. 
Hence, while you want to show fellow feelings, you equally want to be firm in your decision and let it show. 

Provide Any Immediate Resources You Can 

If you are firing someone you like, chances are they are not a good fit for your organization. 
However, they might have other good qualities or strengths in other areas that you identify. 
Let them know you see those good qualities in them and assure them you will give them good recommendations if need be. 
Also, provide them with whatever resources they need and which you can assist them with to make this change easier for them. 

Final Thoughts – How to Fire Someone You Like

Firing someone is always going to be a difficult task for any employer, and you might have to face that too at some point.
If this employee is someone you care about and like, then it can even be harder.
Well, the feelings and emotions that come with this are normal, but it doesn’t help to neglect them or try to avoid them.
Instead, learn how to face your fears, do what is necessary for the good of your organization and be professional about it.
As such, even if you have to let an employee you like go, you can still fire them nicely