Lincoln University staff are distraught after they were duped into being frank with a report-writer who turned out to be their future boss.
During the week of January 11, more than 20 staff were asked to meet and be interviewed one-on-one with a “visiting academic”, who was preparing a report for the university’s council.
The man was Professor Robin Pollard, who revealed to a few at the end of their discussions that he was the preferred vice-chancellor candidate. He was given the job, and would start mid-March.
The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) believed the appointment had been “unnecessarily fraught”, and did nothing to help resolve low staff morale and lack of trust in management at the university.
It was considering legal options, including making a complaint to the Employment Relations Authority about the university’s breach of good faith.
The university said the appointment process had been necessary to respect the need for Pollard’s confidentiality before any offer was made or accepted.
It is a good idea for a prospective CEO to do diligence on the organisation they are looking to head.
But to mislead staff that you are just a visiting academic doing a report, rather than the likely next VC, is a really bad idea. I’d be very annoyed if that happened to me. You could well say stuff to a “consultant” than you would not say to your ultimate boss.
You can do do diligence or confidentiality, but not both in this way. They should have told those interviewed he was a potential VC, and asked them to not tell anyone, rather than have those staff agree under false pretences.
Whomever signed off on this made a mistake.