Habits of an effective food safety team

Janice Giddy
 January 19, 2015
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Food Safety

The late Dr. Stephen Covey left us with his legacy of inspirational books and seminars. In this article I would like to take his advice from his book “The 7 habits of highly effective individuals” and apply them to our ability to work as a food safety team. The ability to work as an effective team will be fundamentally important in achieving your Food Safety Objectives in 2015. Since your team will be comprised of different personalities across many disciplines, there is bound to be some conflict within your team. Establishing the right culture within your team will enable your team to work effectively. I have compiled a summary below of the first three habits below:

Habit 1: Be proactive
Stephen Covey was inspired by this paragraph he found in a college library: 


“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness”. 


Covey says that we need to practise using our four unique human gifts:

1. Be self aware: Step back and try to observe the way you are feeling when in particular situation. Hit the pause button before you react in any given situation.
2. Conscience: Be conscience of your feelings, and listen to your inner voice. Evaluate what your inner voice is saying and try to understand what the basis is for this inner voice. Many of these feelings may be as a result of how you were raised or previous negative experiences that you may have had. These may result in you giving an impulsive negative response in a potentially conflict situation.
3. Imagination: Instead of allowing yourself to respond or speak impulsively, choose a better response, one in which you are in control of your emotion. Imagine a positive result, now direct your response towards achieving this positive outcome which is to honour your own values.
4. Independent will: Exercise your independent will to control your impulse to strike out or speak out and control your response by looking at the greater benefit of the team and not simply to satisfy your own ego. Ask the question “what does this situation require from me?” and not “what do I require from this situation?”
5. Focus your energies on your circle on influence. Take responsibility for the things that you can have control over. This focus will increase your circle of influence as a team in your organisation.


Create a culture of respect and kindness within the team.


Habit 2:Begin with the end in mind
Create a clear compelling vision of what you and your team are all about and what your purpose is, and what you are as a team are trying to achieve. Now list the principles by which you would like to operate as a team. You can do this by asking the following questions:

  1. What kind of team do you want to be?
  2. How do you want to treat each other?
  3. How do you wish to develop the talents of each team member?
  4. What example would you like to be to the others in the organisation?

Write down your mission statement and principles and display them in your meeting room. Use these to guide you and remind you as to your purpose.


Habit 3: Put first things first

(The following summary is taken from White Dove inspiration books http://www.whitedovebooks.co.uk/stephen-covey/)

Covey plots the urgency and importance of tasks on a 2 x 2 matrix to represent how you are spending your time. This representation shows four categories of demand which may be made on your time. Quadrant 1 consists of activities which are both urgent and important - in other words, things to which you absolutely must attend. Why must you do these things? Because they are important - meaning that they contribute to your mission; and they are urgent - meaning that they have some sort of deadline associated with them.

Choices about where to invest your time really are made in the other categories; and most people - driven by the concept of urgency - get drawn into Quadrant 3; doing things that consume their time but do not contribute to their goals. Highly Effective People understand that the high leverage activities are all Quadrant 2 - important but not urgent. Planning, preparation, prevention, relationship-building, reading, improving your professional knowledge are all examples of Quadrant 2 activity.

We all intuitively know that Quadrant 2 activities are the key to getting results; but each team member needs to have internalised the first two habits before you can benefit from the high leverage this habit brings. In other words, you first need to have developed the strength of character (proactivity) which allows you to be able to say no to demands on your time that fall into Quadrants 3 and 4; and you also need to have defined what importance means for you - otherwise the Quadrants do not exist.

Put habits 1,2 and 3 together and you have the ultimate success formula. Stated simply - get your team members’ minds right; they need to each define what is important; then organise the team to maximise your Quadrant 2 efforts. By spending appropriate time on Quadrant 2 activities, you will gain control. Quadrant 1 will actually get smaller because you will have anticipated and prepared for much Quadrant 1 activity. Concentrating on Quadrant 2 is absolutely fundamental to achieving success.


For more information on the 7 habits of highly effective individuals take a look at the following website http://www.whitedovebooks.co.uk/7-habits-of-highly-effective-people-2/

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