How Kelly Ripa’s Walk-Out Brought Workplace Respect In-Focus

In the space of 24 hours, talk show host Kelly Ripa’s name went from being synonymous with bubbly morning fun to going AWOL from work.

“Don’t go all Kelly Ripa on me,” a radio show announcer quipped a few days after Michael Strahan, co-host on Live with Kelly and Michael, blindsided her with the announcement that he was leaving the daily morning show for a full-time position on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Ripa responded by skipping Live the next week, an absence the show’s producers explained away as a sick day plus a previously planned vacation to celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary with husband, actor Michael Consuelos.

Ripa didn’t show the same courtesy upon her return to the program April 26th.

“I didn’t want to come out here and just, like, say something I might regret,” Ripa said to the studio audience. “So what transpired over the course of a few days has been extraordinary in the sense that it started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration and, most importantly,respect in the workplace.”

Ripa felt that ABC executives should have revealed Strahan’s job plans to Livewell in advance of his April 19th announcement; even Strahan agreed that he wasn’t the right person to break the news. And Ripa viewed this lack of communication as a show of disrespect for both herself and the show.

Her feelings are echoed in the findings of a recent Harvard Business Reviewstudy of nearly 20,000 employees. Being treated with respect on the job was more important to respondents than any other leadership skill, outweighing “recognition and appreciation, communicating an inspiring vision, providing useful feedback — even opportunities for learning, growth, and development.”

Communicating bad news is never a fun job, and ABC executives definitely put it off until the eleventh hour. Management has to serve that tricky dual role of both company advocate and employee advocate, and to serve both well, they must fully prepare for the conversation, doing their homework on:

— How the decision was made
— Who was consulted
— All possibilities considered
— The rationale behind the final decision

Studies show that if people believe the decision-making process is sound, they are typically more willing to accept an unfavorable outcome.

And if leaders show bad behavior, they must correct it.  Perhaps ABC did just that. Based on the latest news reports, Strahan will now be leaving his Live co-host position on May 13th, four months earlier than originally planned.

Thank goodness.  That was going to be a really awkward summer.

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