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Technical advice and development

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Does your traceability system spark joy?

This was the question I asked a team of technical and production people that I had been working with to improve their QMS system and working practices. It was day two of the exercise and I said it smilingly as I scanned over the series of documents spread sequentially over the boardroom table. In true X Factor style ‘it had been a journey’ that consisted of encouraging the team to confidently demonstrate the system, to question areas that they thought were weak and to support, help and train colleagues who were not using the system in the correct way. The output was an updated system with new procedures to test in the business, a checklist that accurately reflected which staff member or deputy provides key information and an internal auditing system focussing on the areas where compliance needs to be improved. The outcome will be a team who is more confident in working together using the new procedures and who is also prepared to explain to an auditor how the system works. Transition is not easy, especially if historically the technical team has always been the one to manage internal audits and not been able to engage fully with all parts of the business to ensure that they are aware of the different customer standards and the consequences of not meeting them. The benefit of training a multidisciplinary team meant that the new procedures were created with advantages for other colleagues further down the line and this information was used to sell the changes to the rest of the business. The second day was intensive and people were tired,... read more

From our own technical correspondent (FOOTC) May 2016

A breakthrough I had whilst catching up with old friends This week I’ve been reflecting on the value of coaching and developing colleagues. I had the pleasure of catching up with an old supplier I used to audit for the Field to Fork standard and a member of a technical team I managed a few years ago. They both are in new roles with different companies and what struck me was how well they had developed into managers over time. I listened whilst the first colleague told me about her new role in logistics that required managing a team of people. She had moved away from the technical side of the business but was keen to ensure that her department was always ‘audit ready’ and she routinely carried out internal audits to get a view of how the department performs. “I tell my team that they would rather get the news about non-conformances from my internal audit than from an external auditor. I learnt that from you” she said. The second colleague told me about the changes he was gradually making in the department, how he gave his staff time to air their concerns to get to root causes of problems and how he had learnt to identify strengths and weaknesses in the team. “It’s all about people management, I always remember my first appraisal from you when you asked me how I wanted to be managed, it’s important to know how people tick” What struck me from both these conversations was that two people who were both technically competent had learned key lessons about people management from these... read more

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