Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Laying Off People

Today, Hewlett-Packard announced it was buying Compaq. Up to 15000 overlapping jobs will be eliminated. I suppose we're all used to these kind of numbers by now.

How will these 15000 jobs be eliminated? Who will these people be? I'm sure managers and employees at HP and Compaq are fretting over these very questions. In the Boston area, there is a sizeable Compaq community, because a few years ago, Compaq bought Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).

When we had to lay off people at my last job, I was a manager involved with the actual tasks of deciding who should be let go. I didn't have to face these huge numbers. I only had to "let go" two people. However, that fateful day last October was one of the most draining days of my career.

I still remember the "training" we middle-managers had to attend on how to perform the "task". I still have the crib sheet I used when I talked to the two people I was letting go.

Today's merger and pending layoff news brings me back to that ugly day, although for the 15000 overlapping employees, their day of reckoning won't be for some time. But it'll get here, and we'll just take the news in stride.

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