I need to fire a family member: what do I do?

I need to fire a family member: what do I do?

Dear Aunty B,

My family owns a clothing business which has been operating for almost 100 years. There’s a long history of family involvement and many family members work in the business. The problem is my cousin is just not working out as an employee. We really need to get rid of him but I am fearing the outbreak of World War III if do fire him.  Am I stuck with him forever?




Dear Steve,

The saying is that you can’t live without family but can’t live with them. It’s pretty apt for families working together in business as well. Firing your cousin is not like firing a normal employee.  You need to be clear with the reasons for your decision (which aren’t really outlined in your email) and keep it professional not personal.

Be prepared for it to get emotional. This is why you need to keep the focus on the business and the performance reasons for firing your cousin.   You need to make the decision which is in the best interests of the business, which is financially supporting many members of the family.

Given this is an emotional minefield, don’t try and do it on your own. If possible involve other (non family) members of the management team of your business.  Keep everyone informed and this should minimize the extent of family rifts.  You can get through this and if it is not the right job for your cousin over time he may even appreciate your actions.

Be Smart,

Your Aunty B


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