Firing a Friend or Family via Email


The act of hiring and firing are two important things every business owner needs to master. The ability to identify gifts and skills in people and to be a good judge of the human character are some essential keys you will need to hire the right people. And perhaps one point to keep in mind when seeking for whom to employ is never to hire someone you cannot fire.

Important Note

Hiring a friend or family into a business could be as simple as A, B, C, but letting go is what could seem so hard. After you have concluded on your decision to fire a friend, you need to ensure you are not making a fiend out of him in the process. While you should be aware that your action will be interpreted as rejection, it is important to note that the bulk of your communication goals in this regard should be to communicate acceptance and to do so in the clearest terms, guilt-free. The end-result is not to simply get rid of the employee which you might have come to begin to see as a burden, but it is to do what is best for him by letting him go, an action which if not done may sour the relationship and affect the business in the long run.

Before You Fire

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Before you eventually terminate the appointment of an employee who is a friend or family, it is best to give the person enough time to change. You may want to first caution the fellow politely, or go as far as issuing a query or two. Let firing be the last resort. If indeed you value the relationship between you and the person, you may want to be sure that firing is the best way to go when it comes to it.

After You Fire

After firing someone close to you, it may lead to one or more of the following:

  • Undermining or severance of the relationship
  • Creation of a foe in a former friend or family member
  • Deep-seated hurt or emotional trauma for the fired individual
  • In the case of a family member, there could be an ensuing family feud
  • A strengthening of the relationship between both of you
  • Greater respect for you from the friend or family member
  • Self-improvement on the person’s part following the termination of the appointment

The outcome of the firing largely depends on the person fired. You as the employer are simply seeking the person’s best interest as well as that of the company’s. However, you are in the position to do your best to ensure that things end up amicably between both of you.

The Ideal Way to Communicate

The best way to let go of a friend or family from work is to have a one-on-one communication with them. There has to be an encounter whereby you access the person’s non-verbal cues, get an instant feedback which you can immediately respond to while you are communicating in person. However, an email may be used to lay the foundation for this sort of encounter.

The Place of an Email

Sending an email first to lay the foundation after you have concluded on firing a friend or family member has several advantages. You would have prepared the person’s mind for what is to come. In this way, it will not be much of a surprise, neither would they have a rude shock when you are eventually breaking the news. In writing an email to this regard you should note that the purpose of the email is not to do the firing but to lay a solid foundation for what is to come. The body of your email should carry a courteous message.

Tips on the Content of Your Email

Show Appreciation

Express your sincere appreciation to the friend or family member for being a part of the work done. You can go ahead and highlight some of the things the person did while in your employment, mention how they have had a positive impact on the business. Do this with honesty, there is no need mentioning things that never happened or exaggerating the work the person did.

Express Your Expectations

State the expectations that you had in mind when the friend or family member began to work with the company. Be as clear as possible when explaining this aspect. Mention times you have had unofficial chats regarding what he was expected to do.

Detail Your Disappointments

You need to state your expectations and how they have been unmet. It is not enough to mention the fact that your expectations are not met. Highlight briefly how they have been unmet. Remember, you’re firing a friend/family that may question your action and give reasons why your decision is unfair. Explain that their performance is not meeting up to these expectations.

Mind Your Language

Firing a friend/family can never be easy. What is important is to carry out the act in a manner that is less hurtful, depicts mutual respect, and preserves the relationship. This way, you lose a worker, but maintain a relationship. Avoid the use of the pronoun ‘I’ in your email and the eventual conversation. This way, you make it seem less personal. Replace the word with ‘The management’.  The more formal you are in your approach, the more hurtful it may seem. The less formal, the more you are taken less seriously. The better option is however to adopt a formal approach. Be professional and do not allow sentiments to cloud your action.

Assurance Regarding the Future

In your email let the person be assured of your unbiased commitment to the relationship between both of you. Do not give room to doubt that your attitude towards him will not change.

Sample Email: Firing a Friend or Family via Email

Greetings Samuel,

Hope your day has been great?

Your work and support in the company are greatly appreciated and cannot be underestimated in any way. The reshuffling of the accounting department and the creative marketing ideas you brought to the table are some of those things that have made positive impacts in the company.

However, as we have discussed several times, the management decided to hire you because a significant amount of money gets unaccounted for at the end of the year; and your primary duty was to ensure there were no more leakages. For the second year running, the external auditors confirmed that we lost a total of between $250,000 and $300,000. These figures are more than two times the amount we lost each year before you were hired.

The management understands that you have done your best to curb this. But since no headway is being made, they thought it best to let you go so that things do not get to the point where the company lawyer will file a lawsuit against you citing you as an accomplice to the missing funds.

As I have noted earlier, the management is taking this decision for your best interest, and also to protect the company from bankruptcy. I hope you understand this too. I will check up on you tomorrow morning to explain other things in detail.

You will always remain a friend and confidant to me, and I will sincerely feel your absence. Please, this situation should not draw us apart; rather let us hang a little more so that we can figure what went wrong.

Yours always,


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