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Food Safety Leaders = Storytellers?

Food Safety Leaders know that simple behaviors lead to most prevention of foodborne illnesses and product recalls, yet humans underestimate these simple behaviors.

Today’s Food Safety Insights dives into my belief that Food Safety leaders have to develop into master storytellers.

“I’m in Food Safety, not Marketing”

“Food Safety is about numbers, just the facts.”

That’s what I’ve heard from some Food Safety executives when I share they have to spice up their story-telling.

But here’s the thing…

Food Safety leaders are tasked with preventing illness, death and product recalls – the obligation is massive and the scope of the work is immense.

And more often than not, the preventative measures that employees need to take are simple, mundane, and to some seemingly(to them) inconsequential.

People constantly UNDERESTIMATE how simple behavioral changes like hand-washing prevents a lengthy hospital stay or worse yet death.

In a food manufacturing plant, a line operator might SILENTLY resist, unable to fathom how their seemingly benign, once per shift non-compliant behavior could lead to a 9 figure product recall that brings a company to its knees.

As humans, we underestimate simplicity.

As a child, I was taught the value of compound interest, yet the return on investment from putting a dollar a day away still doesn’t fully resonate with me…logically.

Yet reading of a dramatic rags to riches story about someone doing a small thing each day that dramatically impacted their life 20 years later gets me on track.

Some business travelers and vacationers resist and scorn the idea of subjecting themselves to full-body scans at the airport each time they fly.

But transport your mind to the Twin Towers crumbling and fellow humans jumping out of a burning window to their death.

Who among us maintains that resistance to taking off your shoes and belt and stepping into the X-Ray machine?

Because humans underestimate these simple behaviors…. quietly, silently, out of your sight as a Food Safety leader, YOU have to employ tactics that may not seem fitting.

YOU need to hijack people’s senses and transport them into an emotional place, using humor or shock or a story of catastrophic loss and death.

YOU HAVE TO MOVE PEOPLE’S NEEDLES YOURSELF THROUGH STORYTELLING TO GET THE BEHAVIOR YOU NEED.

A sign on the bathroom door or a cliche or mantra are all well and good for reinforcing a message but a story with rich imagery is less likely to be forgotten and more likely to be employed.

Challenge yourself to bring non-compliance to life – challenge yourself to find new ways to get through to people.

As Food Safety leaders, never stop being vigilant and as always, Be Iconic.

President
Gulf Stream Search

Gulf Stream Search is an executive search firm that works with fast-growing, innovative food & beverage companies in the US to help them find truly exceptional talent.  For more food safety related info, check it out HERE.