Who cares wins

November 24, 2016

There is a particular type of creeping dread that overtakes me at the prospect of a corporate induction, and it was with a secret stash of sudokus that I attended one at the University of East London last week.

About 25 new employees from different departments and seniorities gathered and sat dutifully in the chairs that had been set out in a circle. We had a brief informal warm-up from an HR person, which was the same old same old, but wait, no PowerPoint? Videos we could check out online later as needed? Then the main event: the vice-chancellor was coming! I sank lower in my chair. John Joughin walked into the room, sat in the circle and started chatting to the person sitting next to him: what is your job here at UEL? What brought you to UEL? What did you do in your last job? Where do you live? What’s your commute like?

Over the next hour he interrogated each of us in turn and by the end we knew a lot about each other, and a lot about him, including where he came from, where he lived, why he had taken the job as vice-chancellor, what his aspirations were and what he saw as the real challenges for the university. Afterwards, they gave us lunch so that we had a chance to get to know each other better. Never once were “visions and values” mentioned, there was not a single slide, but by the end I had a real grasp of the aims of the university and I felt proud and excited to be working here. Want to understand your workforce and make them feel part of the team? Job done.

Octavia Wiseman
University of East London


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