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Building a Culture of Food Safety – Three Simple Reminders

By Lone Jespersen   |   

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Alchemy Engage speaker Lone Jespersen.Did you know that 46% fewer mistakes are made in companies that have a strong culture of quality*? One of the ways that leaders tap this potential is through their focus on building employee trust. The biggest impact on culture strength is employee trust, for example, on average as many as 63% of employees trust their leaders**, however, up to 83% of employees trust their leaders when it is earned through credible and trustworthy recognition of employee performance. So, as leaders, how do we drive fewer mistakes in food safety through employee trust? I suggest three simple reminders that you can apply today. 

Build your food safety credibility

As a leader in your company, your every message and behavior is watched by those around you. By building your understanding of your company’s specific food safety risks and hazards you can narrow the often perceived gap in leaders between message and behavior and show that you see food safety at par with people safety and financial performance for the prosperity of your company. For example, one company send its newly appointed Chief Food Safety Officer on an intensive road trip to a series of round tables with regional employees. No glossy PowerPoint slides, just a circle of chairs, 1-page hand-out, and complete accessibility to the senior leader.

 

Truly understand the change = threat to survival.

Acknowledge that the change that makes employees feel threatened ignites the exact same neuroscience reaction as removing access to food and water. Change is a threat to my survival. By understanding this as leaders we can better act before the change and help employees maintain focus and minimize mistakes. For example, a one company decided to develop a simple checklist to remove complexity for a specific food safety job to allow the employees to fell less overburdened but still in control.

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Be honest/vulnerable about maturity of food safety.

You gain only blind spots by not acknowledging that your food safety culture might need strengthening. So take the step, measure your food safety culture, be vulnerable and learn what you and your team needs to do next to avoid a fatal food safety breakdown. For example, one company with near perfect food safety records decided to find out “the unknown knowns” of their food safety culture. Maybe due to a very strong culture of continuously improving this company embraced the results and implemented employee lead and organized “Culture” working groups to continually improve and maintain its food safety culture strength.In short, as a leader, to strengthen your food safety culture you must be food safety credible, truly understand the mechanics of change, and be honest about your measured stage of food safety maturity. 

To hear more from Lone, register for Alchemy Engage September 18-20, where she will be speaking. 

Resources: *CEB, 2015 **Globoforce, 2016


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ABOUT CULTIVATE FOOD SAFETYAt Cultivate Food Safety, our number one pursuit is to create culture-enabled success without borders. This is our mission. Everything we do reflects this mission and the values that make it possible. Visit us on LinkedIn.  pcqi-ad-animated.gif

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About the Author

Jordan Paluch: No Title Lone is a Principal with Cultivate LLC, an organization dedicated to help food manufacturers globally make safe, great tasting food through cultural effectiveness. Lone has significant experience with food manufacturing, having previously spent eleven years with Maple Leaf Foods. Following the tragic event in 2008 when Maple Leaf products caused the loss of lives of 23 Canadians, Lone lead the execution of the Maple Leaf Foods, food safety strategy and its operations learning strategy. Prior to that, Lone worked for Woodbridge Foam as Engineering and Operations manager responsible for the safety and quality of automobile safety products. Lone holds a Master in Mechanical Engineering from Syd Dansk University, Denmark, a Master of Food Science from the University of Guelph, Canada and is presently pursuing her Ph.D. on Culture Enabled Food Safety with Dr. Mansel Griffiths at the University of Guelph. Lone currently servers as chair of the GFSI technical working group on Food Safety Culture, a group dedicated to characterizing and quantifying food safety culture across the global food industry from farm to fork.

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