Accountability – Owning Up for Food Safety Culture

Accountability – Owning Up for Food Safety Culture

Hello and welcome to our Food Bites blog,

With so much information circulating about food safety culture, we thought that for today’s blog we would hop on the band wagon and share our ideas on one very important aspect of organisational culture.


: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions

A culture of accountability creates an environment where fingers are not pointed when things wrong. The focus is problem solving and learning from mistakes. Without a sense of accountability instilled into the mind and behaviour of every employee, a positive food safety culture is only a distant dream.

Of course, speaking these words is the easy part. How do we transform these words into reality and reap the rewards?

  1. Walk the talk

Nothing sets a better example of accountability than “leading by example”. True leaders openly admit that they have made a mistake and take initiative to solve the problem and reinforce the learning.

  1. Define results and expectations

Instead of waiting for things to go wrong and devising a response plan, spend more time on communicating expectations and objectives.  Make 100% sure that every employee understands what is expected of them and how they contribute to achieving the goals.

  1. Gain commitment

It’s time to distinguish between mediocre and magnificent!  Get everyone’s buy-in and make sure that they are committed to being magnificent.  Bring clarity by addressing doubts and questions and agree to move forward with conviction.

  1. Be open to feedback and problem solving

We know this is cliché, but an open-door policy goes a long way to encourage open communication.  Employees will not report failures and problems if they think there will be serious consequences for themselves.  Instead, they will hide mistakes and find someone else to blame.

  1. Hire accountable employees

Although this is not very easy to assess during an interview, always look for a “culture fit” instead of focussing on technical abilities.  Technical capabilities can be learned, but a poor culture fit is almost impossible to fix.

  1. Coach employees on how to be accountable

Teaching our employees about concepts such as critical thinking and problem solving, develops a culture where staff step-up when things do go wrong.  Instead of criticizing and complaining, they take initiative.

  1. Consequences and reinforcement

This may sound brutal, but consistent poor performance cannot be ignored.  There must be consequences, and these must be applied consistently.  The same goes for positive reinforcement – focussing on and acknowledging good performance becomes a motivating factor.

  1. Hold each other accountable

Accountability doesn’t only work from the top, down.  In a culture of accountability, everyone holds everyone accountable!

If you are keen on bringing about a culture of accountability in your organisation, why not register to attend our Food Safety Culture Excellence Workshop?  The next workshop is scheduled for 2 December and will take place at Lemoenkloof Guest House in Paarl.  Of course, you are more than welcome to join us via Zoom!  Click here to register or e-mail for more information.

Last chance registrations for 2021:

Attend in person at Lemoenkloof Guesthouse, Paarl or join us via Zoom.

Until next week…

Food Bites Team.