Walk in a plant and pose the question: “Who’s responsible for food safety?” Two things are likely to happen. One, everyone points to the Quality Manager or Food Safety Lead. (This issue gets a blog post all it’s own!) Two, someone pipes up with: “Everybody’s responsible for food safety!” Great concept, but it’s rarely the reality in the plant. Most often there are things being neglected that nobody wants to be responsible for, some workers seem to be on ignore and overall, there’s no cohesive team effort.
It’s possible to make that concept a reality. It’s not complicated, but it is deliberate. Giving that statement teeth is key to building a strong team and a strong food safety culture.
High-performance teams have a process for teamwork. An essential component of that process is establishing clear responsibilities and holding people accountable. They know that when expectations are vague, responsibilities are shrugged off. When expectations are clearly spelled out and have accountability attached to them, it’s harder to avoid them.
Having worked with many plants, we know that once everyone on the team starts doing their bit, it feels better. Things start working more smoothly and there’s less friction. The team gains strength and momentum, collaboration becomes a habit and that’s when they really hit their stride.
So, what are the clear responsibilities attached to “Everybody” as a group on a high-performance team?
ADHERENCE TO 4 BEST PRACTICES
- Follow the rules. The GMP'S. Wash your hands, label all containers, clean up.
- Eyes wide open. Everyone on the team can’t be everywhere. You owe it to your team to pay attention to everything around you, and let someone know if something needs attention.
- Fix it or speak up. If you have the time and ability to quickly right something, do it. If not, report it to someone who can get it done.
- Be good at what you do. Do your own job well and give it your all.
These may seem like rules you already know. Everybody should know and stick to all four of these, right? Well, they may, but you still have to make it clear to every single person in the plant. And then hold people accountable. That’s the loop you are looking for to build strength in your team.