This article will address a sticky situation that you may be facing – how to fire a friend and to expect afterward.
It is sinking feeling to have a friend betray you and the company you work for. Perhaps you hired them or you championed their career. You may take it personally even though their actions may not be directed specifically to you. Their extreme behavior shocks you and begs the question: “Is this person really a friend or are they using you?”
A common situation that I hear about is firing a friend who stole. The action comes as a complete surprise, unlike managing poor performance. As a manager, when an employee steals there is no recovery. Don’t try to intervene on your friend’s behalf because in your manager role, the company expects you to defend their position.
Be sure to consult with your Human Resources department. If your company does not have a knowledgeable HR staff, engage an employment attorney for guidance.
The first action you will be asked to take will be “suspend the employee pending investigation.” This buys the company to do a full investigation into the allegations to determine if what is being accused is valid. Expect to be apart of this investigation unless the company believes you had knowledge of or condoned the stealing because of your friendship.
It is important to conduct the investigation in a timely manner; if the allegations are false, the company will ask the employee to return to work generally with full pay. Conversely, if the employee is found to be guilty of the charges, the company will move to dismiss or fire the employee immediately.
You may think once your friend is fired that your involvement is done. Wrong. Expect to be called to testify in the following situations – unemployment hearings and legal proceedings if the company decides to sue the employee.
There will be no easy way to fire your friend. When you call them in, keep the conversation focused decision and facts. Expect your Human Resources representative or other management person to be with you to document what was said.
In my personal experience, once you have fired a friend, that person will move on with their life without you. They may be ashamed of what they did or they realize that trust is broken and don’t want to broach the subject.
You may have a heavy heart and not know why they did what they did because of the broken friendship. And perhaps, it’s better not to know.