Employment: Sir Alex Ferguson's departure shows employers need to plan for succession

When a key employee leaves, even on friendly terms, employers can find themselves facing difficult practical and legal issues over who to replace them with. How can employers manage succession in an orderly way?

The football world was rocked twice this week. Firstly, by the announcement of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement from Manchester United after 26 years at the helm as manager. The question on everyone’s lips was, who on earth was going to step into the great man’s shoes? The second shock was the answer to that question which turned out to be David Moyes, Everton FC’s manager for 11 years; an appointment based apparently on Sir Alex’s recommendation. So, while Manchester United have potentially solved the tricky issue of succession, Everton is left looking for its own replacement manager.

These headlines are a timely reminder for all employers - particularly those in specialist areas or niche markets - that when a key employee leaves, although leaving their position unfilled is not a relaistic business option, replacing them, particuarly at short notice, can be a very costly exercise…

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