A strong Food Safety Culture starts with your next hire

Concept of uniqueness and talent.
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The post below continues upon a theme we reinforce to all of the people we come in contact with at The Food Safety Insider, Gulf Stream Growth and Gulf Stream Search and that is….

You can’t build a culture, whether it be a Safety Culture, Performance Culture, Compliance Culture, Innovation Culture or Food Safety Culture unless its built upon a solid and inter-linked foundation of adaptable, evolving, highly engaged individuals.  

And that foundation is built before you hire someone, not afterwards.  For more on Food Safety Culture, read this in-depth article – Food Safety Culture – The Missing Ingredient.

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Two aspiring piano players, Student A and Student B, enroll for lessons with a highly regarded instructor.  

Each of the students has equal ability.

Piano Student A comes from a family whose parents graduated from Julliard.  Their oldest child is also an accomplished musician.

Piano Student B comes from a household that did not have any noteworthy ties to music or accomplishments in the field of music.  

In fact, Student B came from a working class family whose father actively resisted the overtures of the child having interest in music, which he didn’t see any long-term application or value in.  However, the father gave in at the insistence of the child, as Dads and Moms do sometimes!

Student A, coming from a family of accomplished musicians, has a significant amount of familiarity with and exposure to musical theory, best practices, proper technique and a strong awareness of “what it takes to be a successful musician” through their upbringing and by osmosis.

Student B does not have the same background as Student A.  In fact, Student B has been exposed to negative inputs from their father, who views the pursuit of music mastery as a negative versus a worthwhile pursuit or one having any value.

Some would say Student A comes from a strong culture or an “environment conducive to success.”

Some would say Student B does not.

And, if this instructor only had time for one student, a general observer might view Student A as being more favorable and more likely to be successful because they come from a “music family”.

But let’s say for this example, the instructor went ahead and trained both Student A and Student B.

How many times have we seen Student B outperform Student A?

In how many contexts(athletics, education, business, etc.) have we seen Student A fall short of their potential due to a lack of self-discipline, motivation, desire, critical thinking or emotional intelligence necessary to perform at a high level?

How many times have we seen a frustrated instructor “fire” Student A because, in their words,  “I’m a piano teacher, not a babysitter.”

How many times have we observed(or maybe been that coach or mentor yourself) the parents wanted Student A to be more successful than Student A wanted it for themself?

Let’s say Student B went on to be an accomplished musician.

It wasn’t because they were more talented or had benefits or extra privileges.  Student B had access to the same instructor as Student A.

Student B was successful in spite of the “culture” they were raised in.

Student B was TRAINABLE.

Student B did what they were asked to do.  

With the talents and willingness to do what Student B was told, the instructor was able to build on what Student B was open to accepting. Over time, the instructor added on technique, new skills and introduced new concepts that Student B was able to blend into their repertoire.

In other words, Student B was COMPLIANT.

Not compliant to low or minimum standards as many in Food Safety and Quality negatively perceive the term compliant to mean.

But compliant to the continually evolving high standards and expectations of the instructor.

In other words, a student with no previous exposure or experience in a optimal “culture” but armed with a baseline of skills, desire, willingness to grow and internal motivation can EVOLVE and continually build on their skills and techniques.

Student A on the other hand, did not have the interest nor the desire to develop into an accomplished musician.  

Given equal amounts of instruction and self-study as Student B, Student A didn’t complete the homework, nor put in the repetitions necessary to improve technique and performance.  

Student A was capable, but not compliant to the continually increasing standards and performance level necessary to succeed at each subsequent stage of development. The student never developed.

With all the resources available and a clear runway and a supportive family, the student didn’t apply nor implement the activities, technique and behaviors necessary to grow INTO an accomplished musician.

This story is meant to amplify the point I constantly reinforce when it comes to Food Safety Culture.

A company with fundamentally sound and comprehensive training programs, the best intentions and plentiful resources to help, reinforce and amplify their company’s food safety culture is useless without students who can and will maximize the tools, opportunity and open runway in front of them.

You obviously can’t let everyone go that’s not “trainable” – with appropriate interventions and opportunities to course-correct, attitude adjustments do occur.

But that takes time and some of the factors of re-assigning employees or transfers, etc. are out of your control and have a long time horizon.

But you can impact your company’s culture NOW with the next hire you make into your department or organization immediately.

To do so requires the following:

  1. An acute awareness of the behavioral traits, work style and personal interests required for each role in a functional area.
  2. A disciplined approach to recruitment, selection and hiring to those specific traits, styles and interests.
  3. Reinforcement, training and refinement as the employee evolves.

Most food and beverage companies skip the first two steps and apply their budgets, time and physical resources to training ALL employees, despite employees that are resistant, apathetic to or incapable of applying the instruction that’s provided.

And in so doing, companies stumble sideways or backwards, but never resolutely upward with purpose towards a desired end state – a profitable, high-performing, high-output company with a low cost of quality and a strong food safety culture.


Signature of Bob Pudlock Food Safety Insider Food Safety Recruiter

To read more about Food Safety Culture, check out Food Safety Culture – The Missing Ingredient

We’re always happy to discuss or help you elevate your company’s food safety culture.

Use our food industry job board to post your job openings with or without our pre-employment assessment tests.

Connect with Gulf Stream Search for confidential, discreet or executive recruiting help.

Something else?  Drop us a line here and we’ll be happy to connect. 

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