THE FINE ART OF FIRING PEOPLE

When a group of human resource managers were instructed to coordinate the layoffs of 400 employees at one of the largest employers in the San Francisco Bay area, each minute was planned and every word scripted. Some of the details of the planned ``execution'' included:

* Carefully crafted and memorized layoff speeches, approved by a corporate attorney.

* Memos put on the desks of employees to be laid off before they arrived at work.

* Scheduled meetings every half hour in conference rooms around the building.

* All computer system passwords terminated at the precise moment of each layoff to guard against employee vindictiveness.

* A packet explaining severance pay and benefits with severance offer expiring at end of the day.

* Laid-off employees escorted to their desks and given one hour to pack personal belongings and leave the premises.

* Security guards standing by out of sight in case of violence.

* Counselors available in case of shock or temporary insanity.

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