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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So my manager and I did a validation study and we discovered that the way the previous QA team had the paperwork set up pretty much forced the staff to fib about the cooling times. We saw that they were just trying to close things out and we fixed the paperwork to reflect the proper cooling times as laid out by the CFIA and retrained them all on it.

I was doing my weekly check of our gas flush meter and I noticed that the last reading on it was what I had recorded on my log so I mentioned it to my manager. We looked at the records and saw that in a two month span they had only used it three times and they used the packaging machine every day. We spoke with the production manager and his first instict was to get mad at us and we showed him that we were speaking the truth. The general manager wanted names of people and we said no... it is all of them and it is alot of the time the team who are doing the metal detection who fills in that section of the log so they are trusting that the people packaging are doing what they are supposed to.

I had already written a training session on record keeping and it was going to be the subject of this month's training with the staff so to drive the point home I put together a presentation about the Peanut Company of America and what happened to them when they falsified records. My plan is to be very detailed as to what they did wrong and how what they did relates to what I have seen in our paperwork. I want them to learn by example and to be comfortable bringing up concerns as opposed to me lecturing them for an hour on what they did wrong. At the end of the day my message is to be honest on the paperwork and if found to be less than honest they will be subject to disciplinary action up to and inculding termination of employment.

What I would like to know is... how would you react if you were in the manager's postition and we told you our findings and also if you were in our position what would you do and do you think we are being to soft on them?

All opinions and ideas are welcomed and appreciated...

Thanks in advance.
 

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When ever I come up against unacceptable situations, I strive to come from a place of finding solutions rather than from a place of attaching blame.

I am not interested in having anyone stand in the corner with a dunce hat on. I want to eliminate the need for that going forward by finding what will work so that the unacceptable will not happen again. Once was one too many times, but it can't be reversed, so I find it more valuable to move forward rather than ruminating on the past.

When solutions are found and implemented, I make sure that everyone understands my expectations going forward and what the consequences of not following protocol and standards will be.

From that point, I stand my ground, hold people responsible, and stay consistent and steadfast. I become very black and white. I make it very clear that their futures are in their hands, not mine.
 

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I've had this happen to me at a Marriott account I took over.
In this situation, inventory was taken every Friday (Yeah I know.....) and the prior food production manager had the staff doing the physical counting and all he did was the extensions.
They would falsify the numbers and inflate the inventory to make their department look good.
When I took over, I took inventory home with me and scrutinized each page.
I found stuff...a lot of stuff.
A 5 gallon pail of chicken stock is not $153.00.
I brought this and all the rest to the GM's attention.
But wait....it gets really good here.
Turns out the GM and the ex-production manager were, how shall I put this?, close friends....?
Now what?
District manager........
It took 3 months and the GM was gone.
You gotta be very careful who to trust and how many feathers to ruffle to get what needs to be done.
 

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Typically, when you encounter a particular aspect of your business where the employees chronically get it wrong, it usually means there is something inherently wrong with the process that either encourages the employees to not want to do it correctly or confuses them thus making it difficult to do it correctly. Its your job to figure out which. Sometimes, its a combination of both.

Additionally, once you've identified the problem, which seem to me includes the manager that became angry, its your responsibility to not only correct the method and provide the training material for the employees but, most importantly, to engage in positive reinforcement of their training. This is where the manager comes in.

Writing a protocol and giving a class or lecture once a month on the "how to's", "why's" "do's and dont's" isn't enough. That positive reinforcement has to be done at regular and frequent intervals with management included, until the understanding and execution of the procedure becomes second nature to all, including the manager. Once that has been achieved then, you can come up with a policy for dealing with violations, including a policy for dealing with managers who don't do their job.

The manager must understand they are responsible for ensuring this procedure is followed and that new hires are brought up to speed. If the manager, whom I assume is their direct supervisor, doesn't ensure that proper procedure is performed every time then, perhaps a new manager is in order?

Most importantly, its important to remember that at your level, managing staff isn't your job. That's the manager's job. Getting involved at the employee level usually creates more confusion rather than solves issues.

Good luck. :)
 

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Of course the production mngr got angry, at the end of the day it's his responsibility, and you just exposed his unsightly backside for all to see.

If you were to go over the production mngr's head and report your findings to HIS boss,... well, lets just say the working atmosphere would be downright unpleasant.

So, its 6 of one, and a half dozen of another. Or, taken from the '80's Stan Ridgeway album,* " its dog eat cat, cat eat mouse, mouse eat cheese, and the cheese just smells".

Hold your head up, you're doing what you're paid to do. You have your employer's best interest at heart, and you did everything by the book, including reporting your findings to your direct superior.

* "The big heat"
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all for your thoughts and I apprecaite all of your input... and I need to thank the admin of this site.. over the years I have come here for advice and I have always felt respected so a huge thank you!
My plan for the training is to refresh them on the importance of record keeping and then have them write the test.. the test is the proof we need that they had the training and understood it and we will take it up togeher and then I will show them what happens when record keeping goes wrong
I am not after pointing finggers.. I want them to understand beyond a doubt the seruoisness of what our records mean and that they need to be honest and if management is making them lie they need to know that they can tell us witout retribution and we will take care of the issue.
On our hot kitchen side we have solid support but with the dough side they see us as a pain in the a$$. I need to clear my plate with paperwork as I was off last week and when I am done I am going in on the dough side and getting them on board with the paperwork and also observing engagement with the managers. That department is a mess and we need to fix it.. My manager and I talked about it today and I told her i knew it was a mess and needed my attention when I am back... I am going to put on my work pants and rubbers and go in and work on the floor with them so I can see their process. I was a line cook before I was a QA Tech so I am not afraid to get in there..
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A year after my original post I have to say that there is a huge improvement with the staff in all aspects of their work.
We have had alot of work to do with them in building their trust as the previous QA team was very adversarial in how they interacted with the staff. We understand that people (including us!) make mistakes and we need to work together as at the end of the day we all have the same goal.. ensuring we serve our customers safe food.

Still we struggle at times with the paperwork and it is laziness on their part.... I have no idea how many times I have told them to check every single time they go and get packaging materials and NOT trust the list...and still they trust the list.
I did a traceability exercise on foil trays and while I was able to locate everything in our logs, when I went to see what we had in stock.... my exercise was a flop as we should have had 1 case of that lot code I was tracing left in stock and we had four. I spoke with the managers about it and while they were not happy they saw that I was speaking the truth as to what I found. I don't go on witch hunts and I record on my logs what I see and they know that now.

I tell the staff all the time that they have a voice and can come to us at any time with a food safety concern and while we may not like what they are telling us we are going to be thankful that they brought it to our attention and we will work to resolve the issue.
Today I had to go to the metal detection area twice... the first time a piece of prime rib was setting the metal detector off... after I investigated I figured out that it was too big for the threshold of the metal detector so I re-calibrated the metal detector and it was fine. The second time we had a package of caramelized onions that was setting it off so I investigated and found the metal. I think it is a blade shaving from the company we receive our pre-cut onions from as the metal shaving did not match anything we have in the plant. The staff were very helpful and supportive of me when I was doing my investigation. The production manager gave me a hard time when I asked him if he could recognize the shaving and I told him that for our report we need to find the root cause of the finding and then he started to work with me.

We did a survey with the staff this month just to help us improve and we are happy with the results...they are seeing us as approachable and helpful and that is a huge change over the survey we did last year with them. We took their opinions into account and changed how we do things so we could work together with them
 

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A year after my original post I have to say that there is a huge improvement with the staff in all aspects of their work.
We have had alot of work to do with them in building their trust as the previous QA team was very adversarial in how they interacted with the staff. We understand that people (including us!) make mistakes and we need to work together as at the end of the day we all have the same goal.. ensuring we serve our customers safe food.

Still we struggle at times with the paperwork and it is laziness on their part.... I have no idea how many times I have told them to check every single time they go and get packaging materials and NOT trust the list...and still they trust the list.
I did a traceability exercise on foil trays and while I was able to locate everything in our logs, when I went to see what we had in stock.... my exercise was a flop as we should have had 1 case of that lot code I was tracing left in stock and we had four. I spoke with the managers about it and while they were not happy they saw that I was speaking the truth as to what I found. I don't go on witch hunts and I record on my logs what I see and they know that now.

I tell the staff all the time that they have a voice and can come to us at any time with a food safety concern and while we may not like what they are telling us we are going to be thankful that they brought it to our attention and we will work to resolve the issue.
Today I had to go to the metal detection area twice... the first time a piece of prime rib was setting the metal detector off... after I investigated I figured out that it was too big for the threshold of the metal detector so I re-calibrated the metal detector and it was fine. The second time we had a package of caramelized onions that was setting it off so I investigated and found the metal. I think it is a blade shaving from the company we receive our pre-cut onions from as the metal shaving did not match anything we have in the plant. The staff were very helpful and supportive of me when I was doing my investigation. The production manager gave me a hard time when I asked him if he could recognize the shaving and I told him that for our report we need to find the root cause of the finding and then he started to work with me.

We did a survey with the staff this month just to help us improve and we are happy with the results...they are seeing us as approachable and helpful and that is a huge change over the survey we did last year with them. We took their opinions into account and changed how we do things so we could work together with them
Middle Management is usually the culprit 99% of the time.

Low level employees just want and need to stay employed by doing a good job. Those that don't, won't stay around long enough to matter much.

But supervisory Management usually has a tendency to rest on their laurels too much instead of actively trying hard at their positions. Or they can become petty tyrants and behave like the evil Mr. Snydley in a cartoon.
Upper management is supposed to actually manage supervision....but again they often fail too.

Meaning that 80% of all business failures are due to poor management. However; 99.99% of the time management will blame low level employees for the failure of the business.

This rule of thumb of why businesses fail has been true for the past 100 years or more. I don't see it changing anytime soon either.

Meaning that if you don't want to change jobs....keep doing yours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Way cool!!! Sounds like you are doing well at it and accomplishing "right" at the same time. What a concept!

I am off to get ready for work, feeling ambivalent about that particular concept. :~) :)

It would be nice to be able to spend time with our hobbies and still earn a living!

I believe we are in for quite a fuss at work... we have someone in bakery who is rather dramatic and LOVES to play the race card and honestly she is quite the bully. She applied for my job and she has more education than I do but when it comes to the soft skills she is desperately lacking... she has been passed over for the QA Tech job three times now... (the first time she was not employed with us and was a temp. the second time she cried race and the third time she cried favoritism) anyway she freaked out on one of her co-workers and the new manager in her department wasn't having it and he sent her home. She was yelling at this lady and he thought her behaviour was inappropriate so he told her to go home. She wrote a three page letter to me for some reason telling me what happened and defending her actions... I gave it to the assistant plant manager (the plant manager is off this week) as it is an HR issue not a food safety issue.
I have worked with this person in the past and it was OK... she was in my department helping me so she followed my lead and I could see that she was trying to stir up trouble and I stopped her. I am pretty cut and dried when I am at work and the rules are the rules. I don't make them but I do follow them and expect those who work around me to do the same.

In the morning I am training an operator to do the pre-op inspection. It isn't rocket science but it does require an attention to detail and a new to him way of filling out the paperwork. I do a pre-op before they get in so this time if I have an observation I will leave it (usually I correct my findings before they get in) so he can see how to handle a finding.
 

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QA has some perceived authority in the workplace. When in truth you are just trying to keep things running correctly and efficiently. Sometimes even making things easier for everyone.

There's this false notion people have that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely".
Completely wrong!

"Power attracts the corruptible" is more true. (Which is why I detest politicians)

She doesn't have the heart of a teacher. Which is what makes for good QA. I wouldn't worry about her education or anything else about her. Upper management has seen fit to pass her over three times. As long as that team is intact you got nothing to worry about.

And QA leadership is a precursor for moving someone up to management at some point. Even if they don't have the educational background. If I were you I'd try to find some more educational resources and certifications outside of the workplace. (Not the Google ones....they are a joke)

Like "project management" and "quality academy" it might give you some ideas of improvements and ease of doing things for everyone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
QA has some perceived authority in the workplace. When in truth you are just trying to keep things running correctly and efficiently. Sometimes even making things easier for everyone.

There's this false notion people have that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely".
Completely wrong!

"Power attracts the corruptible" is more true. (Which is why I detest politicians)

She doesn't have the heart of a teacher. Which is what makes for good QA. I wouldn't worry about her education or anything else about her. Upper management has seen fit to pass her over three times. As long as that team is intact you got nothing to worry about.

And QA leadership is a precursor for moving someone up to management at some point. Even if they don't have the educational background. If I were you I'd try to find some more educational resources and certifications outside of the workplace. (Not the Google ones....they are a joke)

Like "project management" and "quality academy" it might give you some ideas of improvements and ease of doing things for everyone.

I have done some training since starting in my role... I am SQF and HACCP certified and those courses I did through NSF Learn (and the company paid for them) I have done other training on my own and I avoid the google courses... I always do it with a recognized body... NSF Learn, SQFI, Bureau Veritas etc.. I have also done some courses with the University of Guelph.

No amount of education in the world can teach the people skills that are needed in a role like mine. They are either present in a person or they are not. My first career path was that of a special needs worker and I worked in various settings with children who had behaviour disorders. I left that field to raise my own children and it was then when I found my love of cooking and well here I am today.

Upper management is very happy with me... I have had to grow into my role and that was to be expected and I have ran the department successfully in my manager's absence. I got the best compliment from an auditor... he had asked me a question so I answered it and then he asked me what my job title was so I told him and he said that I was the most knowledgeable QA Tech he has met. We are a department of just two so I need to be able to run things in the absence of my manager and I told him that. He was quite impressed.
 

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No amount of education in the world can teach the people skills that are needed in a role like mine. They are either present in a person or they are not.
"skills that are needed" AKA: attitude and or character or personal ethos
I can teach someone to break down cardboard boxes, dice an onion, make a souffle, make gamjatang, etc
I can not teach "skills that are needed".
Like you said...they are either present in a person or they are not.
My number one priority in hiring for any position (whether dishwasher or Executive Chef or everything in between) has always been and will always be..."skills that are needed".
I would hire you in a second. The dramatic bakery person...huh...NO.
Have worked with and for too many.
Just keep using your "skills that are needed", especially when dealing her, and this too shall pass...or not. Either way, you will sleep well. Kudos your direction. :~)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
"skills that are needed" AKA: attitude and or character or personal ethos
I can teach someone to break down cardboard boxes, dice an onion, make a souffle, make gamjatang, etc
I can not teach "skills that are needed".
Like you said...they are either present in a person or they are not.
My number one priority in hiring for any position (whether dishwasher or Executive Chef or everything in between) has always been and will always be..."skills that are needed".
I would hire you in a second. The dramatic bakery person...huh...NO.
Have worked with and for too many.
Just keep using your "skills that are needed", especially when dealing her, and this too shall pass...or not. Either way, you will sleep well. Kudos your direction. :~)"



I had a great training session with some of the staff today... it was "catch up" training and we covered sanitation... two of the staff missed the original session as they were on holidays and the other two were new hires. We made a video of me cleaning a table and I made a few mistakes in it that I wanted them to catch and OMG what a sharp group I had! I was so happy to see them catching the little mistakes and feeling comfortable to bring them to my attention. We had a few laughs in the session and at the end of it they all understood what I was talking about. Teaching adults is so different than teaching children.. but I am learning and adapting as I go and the staff are amazing.
As for the bakery drama queen I suspect she is in some hot water with HR... yesterday and today her co workers had meetings with HR so I am sure they are doing something about her. I am sure she will pitch a fit no matter what HR does but that is their job to deal with her. She knows she is in trouble and this morning she brought a cake for her managers... I was offered a piece but I can't eat cake (egg allergy) so I declined.
Me... I will take my lumps if I make a mistake and I will freely admit to it too,,no one is perfect.
 

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Agreed no one should get in to trouble or be sacked for for making a mistake. But if they try to cover it up that's a different story, and if 5heir managers agrees to the covering up then the organisation is going suffer eventually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Agreed no one should get in to trouble or be sacked for for making a mistake. But if they try to cover it up that's a different story, and if 5heir managers agrees to the covering up then the organisation is going suffer eventually.
I agree as well. We had an audit on Tuesday and well... I made a mistake and the auditor caught it. The operators are supposed to clean the ice machine weekly and they missed it one week and put "not applicable" beside it on the sanitation log and I saw it and signed off on the log. I know for a fact it was not done that week and it is fine but I should have had them write a note in the deviation section of the log. I told them that I was fine with what they did and I would rather take a hit on an audit for that instead of what previous QA asked them to do which was lie on the forms to make them look perfect. We have finally gotten to a place where we have gotten them being truthful on the logs and I don't want to backslide with that.
 

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I agree as well. We had an audit on Tuesday and well... I made a mistake and the auditor caught it. The operators are supposed to clean the ice machine weekly and they missed it one week and put "not applicable" beside it on the sanitation log and I saw it and signed off on the log. I know for a fact it was not done that week and it is fine but I should have had them write a note in the deviation section of the log. I told them that I was fine with what they did and I would rather take a hit on an audit for that instead of what previous QA asked them to do which was lie on the forms to make them look perfect. We have finally gotten to a place where we have gotten them being truthful on the logs and I don't want to backslide with that.
Trust and your reputation for honesty are earned slowly but can be lost in an instant
 
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