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Family Traditions

We have recently had a new addition to our family. It has been interesting discussing respective family traditions, particularly as we now have an American influence. Family traditions are what makes us a family. They help in building the culture of who we are and what makes us unique. Some of these may be funny, some may be sentimental, some may even be less than desirable, but they are building blocks of what makes us us.

Our children were very fortunate to have attended old private schools where tradition was an important aspect of school life. Initiation, camps, matric privileges were all highlights those younger kids looked forward to as they marked your inclusion into the school family. Now I do know some of these pranks have made headlines for going awry, in fact, many may even be banned but the essence of the activity was to welcome new members into the culture.

So, what are our family traditions at work? What are our Food Safety traditions?

Induction training

 Induction should be one such tradition, where new “family” members receive a passionate and exciting introduction to who we are and how we do things. Choose the person who presents the induction programme carefully. They should clearly articulate the importance of food safety, WHY it is important and how THEY play a specific role in achieving our food safety objectives. Look out for the article on your induction manual coming soon. Make it day 1 and make it memorable. Make it count.

Celebrating wins

I worked with a company that had a large brass bell in reception. Every time they won a new customer, the salesperson would run and ring the bell. The whole company knew it meant success and a moment was taken to applaud and celebrate the win. What a great tradition!!! How can we create wins for food safety? What about great swab results – ring the bell? What about great GMP inspection results – ring the bell? Corny you say – maybe but those corny traditions we cling to as a family makes us smile and make us who we are. There are many more – successful customer audits, reduction in waste, improved yields without compromising quality. You can think of a list I am sure. Even if you start with one milestone – celebrate the successes openly.

Catching people doing things right

In our family, we played the BOO game when my children were younger. This meant at any time someone could jump out of any hiding place and shout “BOO” and of course scare the living daylights out of you. The rule was that this was a game we all played and so you would always have your turn to get revenge if you were the unfortunate victim today. (Please do not play the “BOO” game at work but rather try this.

At a company I worked with, the MD gave me R1000 in R50 notes and told me to reward people doing things right over the next month. (This was said in exasperation, as he always complained I only told him what they were doing wrong. He was convinced there were people doing the right thing – even when no one was looking). There is truth in this, as our audits are so focussed on the nonconformances that we can overlook or downplay the great work people are doing. And so, we began the campaign. At first, it was done without any notification. I simply walked into the factory and looked for someone who was doing the right thing – such as following a procedure where there could have been shortcuts. I then walked up to them and gave them the 50 bucks and took a photo of them. The news spread like wildfire. Photos of the candidates were placed in the canteen to publicise and promote the correct behaviour.

This was a short-term campaign and we had to work out the rules of course and it didn’t happen every time I walked into the factory. With time we started looking for people going beyond the call of duty. But the sheer pleasure of being able to reward some unsuspecting diligent person for doing the right thing was amazing. And the MD loved it. He would go and find the person during his routine walks in the plant and personally thank them.

You don’t have to use money – use a fast food or grocery voucher. Use your hundreds of surveillance cameras instead of going into the factory. Use a team to select to avoid favouritism. But do it unannounced and do it as a surprise. Make food safety fun for the day.

I would love to hear about your Food Safety family traditions. Drop us a line and inspire us. info@foodsafetyculture.co.za