Dismissing a new hire who isn’t right for the job is a simple test of management skills that every supervisor will likely undergo. Passing the pink slip to an old pal of many years, however, claws at even an experienced manager’s soul.

“When everything is going well it’s so easy to blur the line between being friends and professionals,” executive coach Stever Robbins notes. “It’s when they come in conflict, that’s the test.”

If this can be called a test, then passing requires preparation. And when it comes to bearing bad news to good friends, preparation means purging your emotional jitters before you trudge into the conference room.


“If you can find a sounding board, that helps,” offers “Surviving Dreaded Conversations” author Donna Flagg. “The irony,” she adds, “is that the person delivering the news is experiencing more pain and anxiety than the person about to receive it.”

In the days before you swing the axe, monitor your own internal dialogue, suggests Robbins. He faults many managers for inventing or exaggerating infractions to rationalize letting a loyal comrade go.

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