Can I fire my friend without ruining our relationship?

Friday December 6 2019


By Jane Muiruri

I recently got a promotion. I have close friends at work. However, my seniors have asked me to fire one of them since she is not meeting her objectives. How do I go about this? Claire

Dear Claire,
Performance is affected by many factors, therefore, it is important to understand the challenges your colleague is going through. You should also tread carefully so that you don’t hurt your friend’s career. Additionally, you must make an informed decision, otherwise, you will lose respect as a manager.

Request your supervisor to give you time to make an independent assessment on the performance of the individual, preferably over a period of three months. Discuss the objectives that have been laid down for her, and ensure that they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. If she is unable to meet them after the specified period, discuss a remedial plan, perhaps through a performance improvement plan. You might find out that she only requires guidance and support.

As a manager, you cannot satisfy or please everyone. However, you can treat staff the same way you expect your supervisor to treat you. Be fair but firm, and treat your subordinates with respect. Part of management is to make tough decisions, and dealing effectively with employees requires high standards of professionalism.

You may need to limit your social interaction with them, especially in terms of activities done outside the office. Have clearly defined boundaries and separate work from pleasure at all times.

Your former colleague must understand that you have a role to play and if she is truly genuine, she will offer the support you need to succeed, including meeting her objectives.


Jane Muiruri
Senior HR Manager,
Nation Media Group