INDIANAPOLIS—After two earlier rounds of clumsy, uncoordinated layoffs, Wiley Advertising manager Hank Strauss finally hit his pink-slip-issuing stride Friday with the "effortless" dismissal of one quarter of his remaining workforce.
"By the time I got to the IT department, I was really feeling it," the 51-year-old said after terminating two dozen full-time employees without breaking a sweat. "I don't know, it was like everything fell into place: my timing, my reflexes, everything.
Added Strauss, "What a rush."
The most recent round of job cuts marked the third time in the past four months that revenue concerns have forced the advertising agency to reduce its payroll, and according to Strauss, this latest spate of layoffs "was by far [his] best yet."
Projecting an air that was both relaxed and assertive, Strauss quickly established a natural firing rhythm Friday afternoon, smoothly easing his workers into unemployment without stumbling once.
Strauss said that at one point he was so in the zone that he deviated from his standard layoff routine and started ad-libbing conciliatory gestures.
"I was firing people in ways I never knew were possible," Strauss said. "Sometimes I'd tell them right off the bat that their position had been eliminated, and other times I'd build it up for a couple minutes and then drop the hammer. It all just came so naturally."
As the firings progressed, Strauss reportedly felt as if he had entered a state of heightened awareness in which he was "three or four moves ahead" of his soon-to-be former employees.
"Everything was sort of moving at half speed," Strauss explained. "It was like I could anticipate what they were going to say, and I was ready for it. I'd be handing them pamphlets on continuing their medical coverage or telling them that their network passwords had already been deactivated before they had even finished asking their questions."
After tossing a bag of ID cards into the trash, he added, "When you're on that kind of a roll, you just run with it. You just let go and let the firings flow through you."
Strauss' performance on Friday represented a striking improvement over his earlier attempts at downsizing, which had been marred by stilted, awkward deliveries, repeated bungling of the company's terms of severance, and unconvincing attempts at condolence.
"God, I'll never forget this one woman, an executive assistant, who we were replacing with an unpaid intern," said an embarrassed Strauss. "She kept pleading and sobbing, and I told her it wasn't personal, just a matter of 'budgetation' restrictions. Budgetation? What was that?"
"I was totally in my head," Strauss continued. "This time around, I trusted my instincts and fired a whole bunch of my workers without any hesitation or second-guessing whatsoever. If only I could do that every day."
While Strauss' solid run of terminations has provided him with a strong sense of personal satisfaction, a number of detractors have voiced displeasure and even hostility regarding the job cuts.
"I've been working for this company for 18 years and this is how they let me go? With a five-minute spiel from that asshole Hank?" said former account representative Caroline Pitt. "You know, I think I heard him say 'nailed it' under his breath as I was walking out the door. What a fucking dick."