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Modern day management is seeing a shift in paradigm. Organizations that value food safety and quality rely on forward thinking managers to manage people, processes, and priorities simultaneously. In addition to this, federal agencies such the Food Standards Agency, U.K., are requiring food businesses to obtain evidences of management commitment within their established Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems. Over the years, strong management commitment, or the lack thereof, has proven to directly impact the effectiveness of a food safety and quality system. With more food establishments aligning themselves globally, thanks to integrated systems such as blockchain, there is a growing need for leadership to demonstrate their commitment to food safety and quality. While it is challenging to directly measure commitment, below are a few examples that illustrate how leaders can positively impact an organization.
Lead by Example
Rules are blind to title. During my past experiences as a third-party auditor, I found it counterintuitive to witness a few supervisors or managers skip certain rules or procedures such as washing their hands, utilizing a hairnet, wearing the required personal protective equipment, etc., even though there were policies visibly displayed at the entry points to the facility. Leading by example reinforces the behavior that promotes good food safety culture.
Invest in Training and Coaching
Food safety and quality is purely technical. Yet, with the right approach, it can be made relatable to all learning groups. Since middle managers directly oversee the activities of front-line employees, it is important for them to support the learning and development initiatives that impact the staff. Blended learning solutions can ensure engagement as well. To supplement this, it is important for managers to coach their employees and teams to ensure clarity of both short-term and long-term goals. Traditionally, training is viewed as an annual event to obtain or renew required food safety licenses and/or certifications. Conversely, adaptive training is an environment wherein committed managers immerse themselves in learning with the employees to stay updated on current trends.
Allocate Sufficient Resources
Resources such as time, funding, space, technology, consulting expertise, etc., are pivotal to the development and maintenance of a management system. Committed managers balance business acumen with their understanding of risk mitigation, standard operation procedures, CCPs, and employee engagement. When done right, funds allocated to food safety and quality management is an investment, and not a cost.
Focus on Action Items
Here’s a pro-tip: Instead of focusing on how many HACCP meetings executives have attended, pay closer attention to how long it took an action item identified by the HACCP team to move from “pending” to “completed.” Longer completion rates are worth exploring as they may as well be an indicator of potential roadblocks within either the management’s decision-making process or the availability of resources.
Data Gathered from Scorecard Metrics or Key Performance Indicators
Keeping food safety and quality goals linked to employee performance can speak volumes about the management’s commitment to ensure that they are meeting and exceeding expectations. Periodic performance reviews and individual and team coaching can ensure the organization’s food safety and quality management system remains a shared success story.
These best practices will not only support the organization during a HACCP audit, but will also fuel the workforce to remain capable in the ever-changing world of food safety and quality.