United States: ABC, Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan, And Lessons On Parting Ways With Key Employees

What Kelly Ripa lacks in size, she makes up for in attitude. At just 5'3″, the petit daytime talk show star measures but a fraction of the size of her former co-host, Michael Strahan, himself a former New York Giants defensive end and Super Bowl champion. But Ripa's actions since news broke of Strahan's planned departure from Live! for a permanent slot on ABC's Good Morning America show the pint-size starlet is anything but meek.

Strahan, in classic defensive end style, reportedly blindsided Ripa and the Live's producers with news of his move shortly after the show on April 19. Ripa, who was reportedly shocked and furious with the announcement and its delivery, was conspicuously absent from the show the following few days, allegedly celebrating her and her husband's wedding anniversary. Despite Ripa's being all smiles when she returned to the show, guests commented that interactions between her and Strahan were noticeably tense. On air, Ripa also got in some passive aggressive digs at her soon-to-be ex-co-host, making it clear to the viewing public Strahan wasn't the only one skilled in the art of the sneak attack.

On the business side of things, Ripa and her producers bumped up Strahan's exit to last Friday, May 13, rather than waiting until September as originally planned. According to an ABC spokesman, the move, which garnered the show more attention, was done so that Ripa and her team could "immediately begin the on-air search for a new co-host." This past Monday, Ripa also changed the name of the show to "Live with Kelly" and released a new logo bearing the revised brand (mind you, a brand that is now very used to transition, having first been Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, and then Live with Regis and Kelly, before the recently defunct Live with Kelly and Michael.

Lessons for employers

The drama surrounding Strahan's departure from the Live franchise underscores the importance of having a plan for dealing with key employee resignations. While the loss of an employee will no doubt affect your business, taking a few steps can ensure the impact isn't fatal. For starters, employers should craft a plan for communicating the exit to the rest of the company. ABC's communications to Ripa and the Live team regarding Strahan obviously left something to be desired. Instead, other key employees and team members should have been the first to know the change was likely happening, both to avoid the shock factor and to allow for ample time to plan for the replacement. On the flip side, it may have been advisable for Live's producers to have a back-up transition plan even before the announcement, as a "just in case" precaution.

Another good step, which Ripa seemed to have taken, is to determine a date of departure that works best for the company. Details surrounding the employee's payout can be worked out between the parties, and might even help shape a severance package if the company wants the employee's exit to be sooner than the employee had planned, but is still willing to provide him/her with compensation for a time beyond that date. If the company is willing to provide such a severance plan, management should also attempt to negotiate a release of claims from the employee in exchange for the additional compensation.

Lastly, it is important that the company make a clean break with the employee and attempt to part on amicable terms if possible. Regardless of the circumstances of the employee's departure, it's best for management to avoid any lasting animosity that may fester into lawsuits against the company.

With a little planning and good execution, your employee transitions can be smooth and create the least impact on your business.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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