I attend weekly sales meetings so that I know what new items are being offered and how they will be merchandised. During the open discussion time, I offer two or three food safety tips, rewards, or concerns. I then ask that everyone in attendance take this message to our store associates. Now I have all levels of executives, senior managers, merchandisers, and store associates talking about how food safety fits into their own departments. They become my food safety spokespeople. Instead of a department of one, it is now a department of thousands.
Explore this issueDecember/January 2011
Straight to the Heart
When making rational decisions, we like to think that our organized left brain dominates, yet we see repeatedly that our imaginative right brain is at least as important. Most buying decisions can be traced to emotions that are later rationalized by thought. Creating buy-in on food safety concepts and practices follows this same line of thought. Ultimately, your colleagues will make decisions as a result of emotional persuasion.
One powerful tactic is to put a “face” on food safety. Sharing real life stories of victims who have suffered from foodborne illness (go to safetables.org) helps to teach the importance of food safety. Behavior is motivated through emotional channels. Behavior changes start in the heart.
One of my store managers had extremely high food safety metrics in 2009—998 out of 1000, almost perfect. I asked him how he did it and what strategies he used to motivate his associates to build a food safety culture. He said, “Miss Gina, I talk about food safety with my associates every single day. I let them know that proper food safety practices are expected and monitored at my store. If I talk about it, they know that it is important to me, so, therefore, it must be important to them. If I miss one day not talking about food safety, then they think it is not important that day. And you know, Miss Gina, it only takes one time that food safety may be missed that we can harm our customers—our friends—and we don’t want to take that chance.” Now that is a converted food safety sales person.
Nicholson is food safety manager for the Kroger Company, Columbus, Ohio, Division. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (614) 898-3413.