The strength of an organisation’s food safety culture starts at the top. Leadership at this level can choose to make food safety a priority or not. Decisions made here will cascade down and across the organisation. Prioritising food safety is not a difficult choice because it underpins other core values such as quality, financial performance and integrity.
Transformative leadership challenges the status quo and creates a shared vision and strategy to continuously improve food safety. This controlling mind inspires and motivates followers to do the right things with a clear and unmistakable message. Food safety is our priority!
But leadership is not enough to create and sustain a positive food safety culture. Leadership also requires management to make things happen. Management controls and directs people and resources. it implements policies and procedures and maintains stability.
The Power of People
People are important. They are at the heart of all food safety cultures.
people have the power to make things happen or not. They can choose to do the right things or take short cuts. People have the power to influence the right behaviours in others or not. They can be role models who inspire and encourage others to do the right things or they can be saboteurs who encourage reckless behaviours.
People have the power to deliver change for the better or not. They have an informed voice that can put a spotlight on unseen problems or they can choose to carry on in silence. Conversations with people can better define the real causes of problems and empowers them to participate in creating meaningful solutions.
We can simply motivate employees to follow the rules with rewards and sanctions, but there is a better and more sustainable way.
Engagement with employees can contribute to organisational success. Committed employees care about the organisation’s vision, values and goals through willing participation. This partnership connects personal values and aspirations with those of the organisation. Leadership and management must create the right environment for employee engagement. Let’s look at three ways in which leadership and management can support employee engagement.
Build an emotional connection with employees at a personal level. Begin by thinking about how organisational values can be aligned with those of people. Better alignment results in greater levels of trust, ownership, innovation and overall performance.
Think about communication. Engagement with employees on food safety matters requires an effective communication policy and strategy. Mechanisms of communication must exchange information in a simple and understandable way.
Communication must be inclusive and there must be no ambiguities in what is said and what is understood. Communication must encourage participation through an open dialogue of trust, mutual respect and active listening. conversations with employees encourages active discussion. it can reveal the hidden truths and provide opportunities to discuss ideas for improvements. feedback must be taken seriously. A failure to act on feedback will erode trust and ultimately discourage participation.
No Blame Culture
Even with the best intentions mistakes and violations do happen. Organisations can choose to be a blame or learning culture. Blame is a rush to find those responsible for an incident and has a tendency to be counterproductive and expensive. It creates negative emotions of fear, anger and resentment which shifts the focus away from challenging systemic factors. blame inhibits truthful discussions and creates a focus on self-preservation. Whereas the purpose of a learning culture is about finding out the truth and raising awareness from lessons learnt. A learning culture does not mean people are not accountable for reckless behaviours.