Why are great friends fired
How can I fire an incompetent friend?
I faced a situation where I had to cut my budget in half, including people. I had hired most of the people I should let go of. I had to call who would go and who would stay. The newest person on my team was with me for over two years. We were all friends and family. In the end, I let go of my best friend, whom I convinced to join my team. He was one of the highest paid and I was able to save two others' jobs by leaving him. I also let go of someone, as you described, who is supported by the team.
I looked them in the face and told them that this was a business decision and not a personal one. My best friend swore at me and stomped out of the room angrily. He later apologized for his behavior and thanked me for finding a higher paying job. He said he really liked the new company. We still remain friends today.
The other employee promoted by the team said he knew it was coming and didn't say much. In the months following the drop in strength, the team's morale improved significantly. We saw more productivity, everyone carried their own weight and everyone worked better together. It actually became a better place to work because we didn't have the extra weight that we were carrying. If I had known what I learned before I was forced to let people go, I might have chosen to let him go sooner.
My advice for letting him know if he's direct, honest, and as positive as possible. Tell him that you made a decision to let him go as a business decision and that this is not personal. You don't have to go into the details of your decision. Let him know that you are ready to be a reference for future pursuits. It won't be easy, but you'll both be better off. He may find something he likes to do and can be more passionate.
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