The 5-Step Guide to Firing Someone You Really Like

profile image

Profile Picture
May 18, 2024 at 4:7AM UTC

Firing someone is usually not an enjoyable experience. It really feels worse when you must fire someone you like. Here is a quick guide to deal with this workplace situations, and make it as easy as possible for both of you.

1. Try to take emotions out of the equation.

When you are at work, it is important to focus on what matters most. Like Marcus Lemonis says, the three keys to success in business are people, product, and process. If you are considering firing a person, this is a decision that needs to be strictly focused on performance, work product, company fit, obstacles or challenges in the role and dedication in the position.

After you go through a detailed analysis of whether you need to fire your employee, take emotions out of the equation to focus on why this person is not a good fit for the role. Talk through your tough emotions with a human resources representative to get them out of your system, meditate on the decision and try to remember that you aren't hurting this person by firing them: you're giving them the opportunity to find a better fit. 

2. Clarity is key.

In America, most workers are employees at-will. The National Conference of State Legislatures explains, “at-will means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without incurring legal liability.  Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.” 

The clarity that you can provide in the firing process will only help your employee understand how they can move forward and find a job that fits them better. More clarity and openness allow you and your employee to grow from this situation. They won't be wasting energy questioning why it happened, or what they could've done better. Openness is also a sign of respect, helping you and this employee salvage your relationship after this occurrence.

3. Create a safe space for open dialogue   

When sharing the bad news to your employee, you really want to use language that invites your employee to speak and to ask questions about the termination process. A healthy back-and-forth will help the employee feel more in control in an otherwise disorienting position, and will help you both feel better about the circumstances. 

4. Following protocol matters.

When firing an employee, it is imperative to follow all procedure and compliance regulations involved in the process. You need to work closely with your human resources department to ensure the firing process goes as is required. When you like the employee, you may be inclined to stray away from common procedure or make special arrangements. However, ensuring that the firing process is handled correctly is the best way to respect them. 

5. End the conversation on a high note.

Given that you like the employee you are firing, the best thing you can do is offer to be a reference for the employee. This is an offer that the employee should appreciate and probably take advantage of for them to move forward to their next opportunity. It also reminds them that being fired isn't the end of the world, and has not changed how you (or most people) view them as a person.

Don’t miss out on articles like these. Sign up!


Natasha Nurse started Dressing Room 8 to provide a web-based resource where women can gain personal and professional empowerment through her fashion and lifestyle focused blog. Dressing Room 8 helps women learn how to think with clarity, dress with confidence, and live with purpose. She is the Lifestyle Editor for Plus Model Magazine, Program Coordinator for Long Island Girl Talk, Host of Our Voices on 90.3 WHPC, and she co-hosts a podcast with her husband called WokeNFree. Follow Natasha on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always