Every organization must have aims and objectives. So, it is very common to see mission and vision statements being some of the first items any organization puts together. Policies are generally crafted from the aims and objectives so put out, and there is a reason why organizations must necessarily have policies. A policy is a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by an organization or individual. It is a statement of intent and becomes alive through procedures and protocols; a deliberate system of principles to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes.
Food Safety Policy
Every Food business should have a policy to guide the way it does business mainly to promote food safety. The policy should state the commitment of the business to provide food that is safe and will not cause any illness or harm to the consumer. Policies must always have pillars to support it. For instance, to achieve the dictates of the policy, a food organization should work with regulatory authorities to ensure the applicable food safety laws are complied with. The organization should put in place training programmes for employees on food safety and quality. Training on food safety must include Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), which is a food safety tool that identifies, evaluates and controls hazards that are significant for food safety. One other pillar of importance is the review of the food safety management system to ensure its appropriateness to the business objectives. The above is but a few of the pillars that would support a typical food safety policy.
Standards and Procedures
Once a policy has been established, standards and procedures would then be drawn from it. Each supporting pillar of the policy would generate a set of procedures that will go a long way to help achieve the policy so established. Additionally, several standards on food safety would be employed to ensure that the commitment made to food safety is achieved. For instance, there are written standards on food safety, good manufacturing practices, codex general standards on hygienic food manufacture etc. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) right from the beginning of the manufacturing or catering process until the final product comes out must be documented. Beyond this, storage and distribution procedures should be written in order to ensure finished products get to consumers safely.
Resources should be provided to ensure that standards and procedures are well documented. Documentation could be outsourced to external consultants who will work hand in hand with process owners to ensure accuracy. Major and auxiliary equipment to support the process should be provided to ensure finished products are of the right quality. Human capital is probably one of the most important resources to provide if the objective of the organization is to be achieved. Although the above will have financial implications, cashflow is key in the smooth running of the business.
Communication of Standards and Procedures to Employees.
There are several reasons why organizations fail. When employees are kept in the dark on top management decisions, standards and procedures, there is only one outcome, nonperformance! My interaction with many business heads and executives reveals insecurity as the number one threat. Procedures that are to be made available for effective work are held in secrecy and the mantra is “we have trade secrets in there”. So, employees are only told what they need to know within their workstation and many at times do not understand the output of the process that they use as input for their own process. Standards and procedures are to be communicated widely and kept at the point of use for constant reference by users. This is how great businesses are built.
Instruct, Motivate, Train and lead by example
Communication of standards and procedures to employees alone is not enough. There should be clear roles and responsibilities for each employee. Instructions on how to carry out specific jobs must be given normally through documented work procedures and instructions. Beyond this, motivation and training is key. Just as moving parts need oil to make them efficient, the people working in the organization need certain elements to make them effective and efficient on the job. According to Study.com, “motivation actually describes the level of desire employees feel to perform, regardless of the level of happiness. Employees who are adequately motivated to perform will be more productive, more engaged and feel more invested in their work. When employees feel these things, it helps them, and thereby their managers, be more successful”. There are several levels of motivation that can be harnessed to generate the needed successful outcome from the work employees put into the organization. Competence is the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. It is the combination of knowledge and skill that enable an individual to act in a wide variety of situations regarding his core job. Hence training on new trends and procedures is important to maintain competence. Business owners must invest in learning opportunities and take advantage of more experienced members of the team to offer on-the-job training to sharpen the skills of less experienced employees. Lastly, the greatest teacher, is the one who leads by example. Leadership is not about titles; it is about those who are committed to the vision and mission of the organization, who demonstrate that everyday by walking it. There seems to be a proliferation of theoretical leadership, but that is exactly what we don’t need if our organizations are to outlive the vision bearers and affect the generations unborn.
Monitoring and Corrective Actions
I am quite used to a certain saying in many circles, especially manufacturing, “what doesn’t get monitored, doesn’t get done”. Peter Drucker, the famous Management teacher puts it in another way “what gets measured, gets managed”. The only way to measure progress is to always check what is done against what is expected. This culture must be engrained into the DNA of every business. How many business executives, especially in the food industry take a peep into the changing rooms of their employees at least occasionally? In fact, there are certain processes that seem to be on autopilot and hence has no one particularly responsible. It is normally referred to as the “grey areas” right? The fact is, there are no grey areas in life and referring to the fourth principle of quality management (Process Approach) will bring to the fore the importance of interrelation of processes. Every activity in the organization should be monitored. It is out of monitoring that issues that need attention can be brought to light. Corrective actions will then result to ensure the root cause of such issues are identified and dealt with.
Just like monitoring of the individual processes that feed into the entire process from end to end, there should always be an overall assessment of the entire activity that falls beneath the policy as established. This is the role of managers who would have a supervisory responsibility to ensure success. They are responsible for making the standards and procedures available and communicating same. Other managers would look at the arm of motivation and training, ensuring that the right people are in place for the jobs to be done etc. In larger organizations, supervisory responsibility lies with more than one individual.
Policy deployment is the implementation of corporate strategy. Therefore, policy deployment is defined as the translation of corporate strategy into action. Workers cannot implement a strategy they do not know. Actors in the food industry can only be assured of success if everyone in the organization is carried along when it comes to corporate strategy.
Johnson Opoku-Boateng is the Chief Executive & Lead Consultant, QA CONSULT (Consultants and Trainers in Quality Assurance, Health & Safety, Environmental Management systems, Manufacturing Excellence and Food Safety). He is also a consumer safety advocate and helps businesses with regulatory affairs. He can be reached on +233209996002, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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