How do I fire a long-time associate, a good friend? What do I tell him, and how do I break the bad news?
It’s an impossible situation, and I have never seen anyone handle it well. Most of the time the president avoids the issue and continues to hang on to his friend. The president rationalizes: “My old friend has 25 years in the company. How can I do this to him?”
A poor manager keeps the executive in his old job and lets him die there. A better manager transfers his old friend to a position of less responsibility, putting him out to pasture, and prays for a resignation. The smart manager does the deed and gets it out of the way so he can worry about more important matters.
Firing an old friend is a bloody mess. It will make you sick, and you won’t sleep well for weeks. But this is your job. How does a general respond when he has to send out a platoon knowing it isn’t coming back? The general has to take the hill at all costs. He sacrifices the platoon in order to win the battle.
~ Mortimer R. Feinberg, Ph.D., Effective Psychology For Mangers, (1965)