“Stop moaning!” This is what KPMG’s chair Bill Michael told the firm’s UK staff last week. It has cost him his job.

It’s likely that you’ve read the articles around this town hall meeting. How could this happen? How could a few words lead to a resignation of the head of the firm?


Recognise the achievements of the last year

We are nearing the one-year-anniversary when UAE schools moved to online teaching. It’s not an anniversary many of us want to celebrate. Yet, we have to recognise how far we’ve come.

Organisations that never imagined to work from home transitioned within days to fully remote. IT teams have been stretched researching how to source laptops, download software and select secure virtual communication channels.

Paper-based departments have revisited their processes and digital transformations have accelerated. While not every process, team or company is 100% digital, huge strides have been made in the last year.


Acknowledge the costs of these developments

While many of us are more familiar with remote working, not everyone enjoys it. There are still managers who micromanage their teams as the trust – almost one year in – is not there. If their teams didn’t deliver the desired work outputs, for sure, someone would have noticed by now? So why continue the constant follow ups and check ins?

Working parents have been pulled in different directions. Some teachers schools have gone above and beyond to ensure a smooth online learning experience. Still, not every child can simply log on and learn, often requiring additional support from parents.

Whether single, in a relationship or living with family, 85% of respondents in a recent Harvard Business Review survey have expressed a decline in their mental well-being with 50% stating a decline in their mental health. 20% voiced a lack in connection and 13% struggle with home-life issues.


Understanding each situation is different

With this in mind, it’s easy to see how Michael’s missed the point last week. His team consists of 1,500 members. That’s 1,500 unique situations and circumstances. Unaware and possibly also unconscious of (no pun intended, though he also ended in hot water for his “unconscious biases” remarks), Michael’s didn’t seem to care about the individual struggles his team has been facing over the last year.

Although individuals themselves, leaders have to step up during a pandemic (aka crisis). We expect and rely on leaders to show their understanding and take their teams through these challenging times.


Listen to your team members

Organisations will need to create an open and safe environment where employees can share their thoughts and concerns. Leaders also need to listen to each team members and acknowledge that they are valid for the individual. The leader or the organisation may not be in a position to address or to negate them. The process of being heard and being respected can already serve as a support mechanism.


Be more human

These are the days for leaders to show their genuine concern for the individual. Leaders can show their own vulnerability. Culturally, it may have been perceived as a no-go. How could a leader let their team members know when they are struggling? This behaviour, however, is exactly how leaders can express their authenticity.

Being approachable, making time and taking on their team members’ concerns, leaders can then decide what practicable solutions can be offered. We still hear how the requests for flexible working hours are denied because “we’re all in the office and so should you!” This explanation is on the same line as “we’ve always done it this way”. It’s no longer fit for 2021!

And that’s why successful organisations can no longer tolerate or accept behaviour and comments like Bill Michael’s showed to 1,500 employees last week! Don’t be like Bill!

We support organisations with customised well-being programmes for their leaders and teams. Contact us and find out how we can support your company.