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#1 That Guy

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 06:43 PM

We are a low risk confectionery manufacturer with a little over 100 full time employees and 40-60 temporary employees. We have been operating for over 100 years but have been slowly loosing customers over the past few years because we are not certified to a GFSI standard. Around 9 months ago senior management decided to go for SQF certification and chose me to become the SQF practitioner. The original goal was to be fully implemented and certified in early 2015, I can already tell that we will not meet that deadline. If we do not become certified, it is likely that our company will not last another decade. The company president is getting old and probably going to retire sometime in the next 3 years. About 1/3 of our employees have been with the company for over 20 years and many of them have never had another job. A few of our employees have been with the company for over 40 years.

 

It is up to me to implement all of the prerequisite programs for SQF, unfortunately I am not getting the resources or support needed to accomplish this. I have tried to explain the situation to management to make them understand that we do not stand a chance of becoming certified if they are not truly committed to the requirements of SQF.

 

Does anyone have any advice for me?  How can I, as an hourly employee, get senior management to be truly committed.

 

I am aware that I am in a position to be the fall guy if we do not become certified. In my opinion, if I give up now we will not become certified and we will eventually go out of business, If I continue to try my best and fail we will eventually go out of business but I will have gained experience to hopefully apply towards my next employment opportunity.

 

I would like to know if my opinion on the situation sounds logical, and if others have had similar experiences and could give me advice it would be much appreciated.

 

My main fear is that I have completely miss judged the situation and the consequences of sticking it out to the end. Would I be better off finding a new job ASAP? I know its a decision that is ultimately up to me, so maybe just a few words of encouragement (or job offer) will put my mind at ease.

 

 

 

Keep Calm and Chive On


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#2 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 06:58 PM

Management commitment is a very hard thing to deal with.

 

Honestly either you have it or you don't.  If you don't you're never going to pass and audit because there will be too many holes where those managers should be interacting with the system.

 

You may need to fail an audit for senior management to realize that unless they get management on board they are just throwing away money.


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#3 Setanta

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 07:05 PM

You mentioned you are hourly, is there someone you report to? If you can, you need to have a heart to heart with them.  Either they can allay your fears, or they will confirm them. This task should be headed up by a manager, preferably a QA manager. 

 

It will be difficult to succeed with one person doing the work.  It doesn't happen like that, even our most relucatant department has some level of buy in. 


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#4 That Guy

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 07:16 PM

I report to the QA Manager. I have addressed my concerns to him but I do not think he sees the situation the same way and insists that we have Senior Managements Commitment, but when I request basic resources to implement new programs I do not receive them. 


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#5 Setanta

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 07:29 PM

What kind of resources are you looking for? 


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#6 MBrown042

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 07:37 PM

Hi Cody and all.. The best advice I can give you is to "See It Through". I have been in the same situation that you are in about a year and a half ago. I was with a small food manufacture and that produced bakery items for retail and USDA items for institutions. That company was extremely hard to bring to SQF status but I did it. I had very little managment committment, and most managers in the building did not do the task that I asked of them. I did not have a QA team, it was Me and pretty much me alone. We had a sanitaiton manager that quit right before the audit and a maintenance manager quit 2 months before the audit. The audit was originally scheduled late 2012, and I pushed the audit back 3 times before we finally had the audit it August of 2013. My boss was the president of the company and he told me I have thick skin, because I would have to go through so much drama everyday just to implement one simple task like segregation of allergens. I came to work everyday stressed out and scared for my job becasue my job was on the line if we did not pass the audit. Geeze I can seriously go on and on about how hard it truly was, but at the end of the day I passed the SQF audit level 2 and put that on my resume, and I left that company in CA and relocated to AZ where I pretty much doubled my salary. It will speak volume if you pull this off. You can do it! "When your up agianst the trouble, meet it squarely face to face; lift your chin and set your shoulders , plant your feet and take a brace. When its vain to try to dodge it , Do the best that you can do; You may fail, but you may conquer, SEE IT THROUGH!!!!" By Ernest Albert Guest -- Marvis Brown Friendship is Essential to the Soul!!


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#7 RG3

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 08:06 PM

Senior Management Commitment and yet the QA Manager is not the SQF Practitioner? Cody13, do you hold a position of responsibility in relation to the management of the SQF system? If you're thinking of going SQF and you do not have management commitment for  2.1.1 and 2.1.2 and 2.1.4 and 2.1.6 and 2.3.4 and 2.6.3 and 2.7.1 and 2.8.1 and 2.8.2, You're lost.

 

"The designated practitioner has the support of senior management and has the time and availability to monitor the effectiveness of the SQF System."

 

I have been on both sides of the coin with the same company two different plants undergoing a GFSI audit back to back and it is clear as day who has commitment and who doesn't.

 

If you choose to stick it out, it will speak volumes of your character and it will definitely show your leadership skills to prepare you for the "next level". Be prepared, be adamant and stern about everything you do. Get organized on how you plan on attacking the SQF code. I would start with educating senior management (Training) on what is SQF (Which you need to do anyway). I would share that most if not all customers are now asking for a GFSI certification. Show what you shared with us that you've lost such and such customer since you're not certified. Management thinks in numbers $$$$. Create deadlines for management and press on them when they're not done demand a new date of when they think it will get done. You say ok or cut down the date. Hold weekly meetings and document them. Keep it in their minds daily by doing a walkthrough the plant daily and reporting on it. Dig your heels in and stay strong, you're about to become everyone's best friend. You'll need reinforcement and your best ally would be the person who told you that you needed to become certified. That person obviously understands the necessity. Good Luck, we're here to help with the code, let us know how it goes or going.


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#8 Snookie

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 08:17 PM

I too am surprised that the QA Manager is not the SQF Practitioner.  You have received very good advice but I would also caution that you are the only who can tell if you are banging your head on the wall for no good reason.  Sometimes sticking it out will work and you will get it done, but it is also possible that they won't commit the necessary resources to get the job done.  In the end you will need to listen to your gut. 


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#9 That Guy

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 08:33 PM

Thank you for the all of the responses, I am both the SQF Practitioner and Sanitation Supervisor. Some of the resources I requested were cleaning supplies such as brooms that do not have wood handles and color coded utensils. I am also attempting to get Safefood 360, if management approves that then I may have a fighting chance. We also need more hand-washing sinks in production areas, the list of improvements we need is long and expensive, it is a very old building. 


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#10 Setanta

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 08:41 PM

Wow, if they are balking at broom handles...this does not bode well.


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#11 Snookie

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 08:48 PM

Wow, if they are balking at broom handles...this does not bode well.

 

 

I would agree. 

 

Thank you for the all of the responses, I am both the SQF Practitioner and Sanitation Supervisor. Some of the resources I requested were cleaning supplies such as brooms that do not have wood handles and color coded utensils. I am also attempting to get Safefood 360, if management approves that then I may have a fighting chance. We also need more hand-washing sinks in production areas, the list of improvements we need is long and expensive, it is a very old building. 

 

I also once an old building and it can be a lot of work and expensive.....but GFSI and software aside, brooms, hand wash sinks and utensils are things that customers and regulators will look at and must be right. 


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#12 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 12:27 PM

Senior Management Commitment and yet the QA Manager is not the SQF Practitioner?

 

This is not really a good statement.

 

At my last position, that led me to being a Quality Manager now, I was the Quality Coordinator.  My position was to be the SQF Practitioner under the Quality Manager because she had a lot to do... and she had to sit around in her office a lot (I learned a lot from her :roflmao: ).  But seriously we were a yogurt plant so she did have to deal with regulatory things, she did some of the product labeling work, and other stuff.  So she needed someone to focus on the standard.

 

So just because the Quality Manager isn't the SQF practitioner or maybe the food safety team leader doesn't mean that there isn't management commitment.  And honestly being the SQF practitioner will serve you well in the future.

 

 

My only suggestion, to at least show them later where they went wrong, is to document when you suggested something important and they didn't support you.  This way you can show them later how you suggested changing things that they ended up getting hit on.


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#13 RG3

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 04:36 PM



This is not really a good statement.

 

At my last position, that led me to being a Quality Manager now, I was the Quality Coordinator.  My position was to be the SQF Practitioner under the Quality Manager because she had a lot to do... and she had to sit around in her office a lot (I learned a lot from her :roflmao: ).  But seriously we were a yogurt plant so she did have to deal with regulatory things, she did some of the product labeling work, and other stuff.  So she needed someone to focus on the standard.

 

So just because the Quality Manager isn't the SQF practitioner or maybe the food safety team leader doesn't mean that there isn't management commitment.  And honestly being the SQF practitioner will serve you well in the future.

 

 

My only suggestion, to at least show them later where they went wrong, is to document when you suggested something important and they didn't support you.  This way you can show them later how you suggested changing things that they ended up getting hit on.

Mr. I. Yoooooou agreed with me in your rebuttal. It's an oxymoron calling a Quality Manager a Quality Manager when they don't manage the quality/food safety system. I understand that virtually anyone can be an SQF practitioner if they have HACCP training and SQF training and everything else under 2.1.2.5. But really?!?!? If she can't multitask, she's in the wrong position. Wait...How much did you learn from your manager? Being an SQF practitioner is no doubt going to prepare to be a Manager since I see it as a Managers job (I think this is where I was going). HOWEVER, in your defense Mr. I. I am the Quality/Food Safety Manager for both of my plants but since I can't be in two places at one time, my QA Coordinator is the SQF practitioner at the other plant (me the backup), but I do require updates and when I fly over I do my checks and a month and half before the audit date I do a full scale QMS audit to see if they are prepared for the SQF audit. Ultimately if either plant fails it will be my responsibility. [I felt the Magenta_Major coming out in me-Rant]

 

-The Manager that manages.


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#14 Simon

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 04:45 PM

If you've not already had one I would stongly recommend that you have a pre audit, which will tell you where your gaps are and what you need to do to close them out, including items of expenditure.  This will form your project plan that you can add realistic human resource requirements, costs and timescales to it.  Put that under the CEO's nose and he makes his choice.  Simple as that.


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#15 Snookie

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 05:03 PM



My only suggestion, to at least show them later where they went wrong, is to document when you suggested something important and they didn't support you.  This way you can show them later how you suggested changing things that they ended up getting hit on.

 

And your thinking that the company will acknowledge him/her being right......sometimes they do....most often regardless of the effort and the evidence....they fire the messenger.   So far the lack of support as evidenced by janitorial supplies is a telling indicator of their commitment.  That is pretty basic.  Don't get me wrong, documenting is critical, but often it is only a balm for doing the right thing, not an actual protection or remedy.

 



Mr. I. Yoooooou agreed with me in your rebuttal. It's an oxymoron calling a Quality Manager a Quality Manager when they don't manage the quality/food safety system. I understand that virtually anyone can be an SQF practitioner if they have HACCP training and SQF training and everything else under 2.1.2.5. But really?!?!? If she can't multitask, she's in the wrong position. Wait...How much did you learn from your manager? Being an SQF practitioner is no doubt going to prepare to be a Manager since I see it as a Managers job (I think this is where I was going). HOWEVER, in your defense Mr. I. I am the Quality/Food Safety Manager for both of my plants but since I can't be in two places at one time, my QA Coordinator is the SQF practitioner at the other plant (me the backup), but I do require updates and when I fly over I do my checks and a month and half before the audit date I do a full scale QMS audit to see if they are prepared for the SQF audit. Ultimately if either plant fails it will be my responsibility. [I felt the Magenta_Major coming out in me-Rant]

 

-The Manager that manages.

 

 I also agree with RG. 

 

In the end, there are a lot of red flags here, whether they turn out to be real dangers or not, needs to be figured out. 

 

 



If you've not already had one I would stongly recommend that you have a pre audit, which will tell you where your gaps are and what you need to do to close them out, including items of expenditure.  This will form your project plan that you can add realistic human resource requirements, costs and timescales to it.  Put that under the CEO's nose and he makes his choice.  Simple as that.

 

This is key.....if the gap audit is done how they respond will tell whether they are committed or not. 


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#16 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 05:25 PM

Well if the auditor walks out or they get a ton of NC's and they try to fire him/her for gross negligence at least there will be proof that it isn't true.  Managers that operate this way typically try to push blame on the lowest level they can.


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#17 Snookie

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 07:05 PM

Well if the auditor walks out or they get a ton of NC's and they try to fire him/her for gross negligence at least there will be proof that it isn't true.  Managers that operate this way typically try to push blame on the lowest level they can.

 

You're right there will be proof and if it is a "right to work" state.....that and $2.00 will buy him a cheap cup of coffee to go with his unemployment check, which does not cover much.  The trouble is that too often Quality is the scapegoat for everyone. 


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#18 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 07:25 PM

It's better than being denied unemployment


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#19 Snookie

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 08:13 PM

It's better than being denied unemployment

 

I have rarely seen unemployment denied especially in this economy, but it is much better to figure out if the ship is gonna sink--if it is then get the h#*l out and on to a rescue ship or another job.   


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#20 RG3

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 08:26 PM

I have rarely seen unemployment denied especially in this economy, but it is much better to figure out if the ship is gonna sink--if it is then get the h#*l out and on to a rescue ship or another job.   

 

Like the Italian Captain of the Costa Concordia

http://www.huffingto..._n_4253884.html


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#21 fgjuadi

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 09:45 PM

It's better than being denied unemployment

Pro tip: Always negotiate severance.  

 

~This pro tip brought to you by someone who gets fired... a lot....

 

Really, at some point, you have to decide if the (seemingly) insurmountable task of making someone care enough to loose/spend money is worth it.  I take the easy way out with management commitment - if they aren't committed, I'm outta there.  It's not an easy choice for everyone to make, but if you realize early that getting basic necessities is a challenge, you may wanna jump ship.  If they don't value your expertise, screw 'um!  You didn't wanna work there anyway, right?


Edited by magenta_majors, 14 November 2014 - 09:49 PM.

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#22 Snookie

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 12:26 AM

Like the Italian Captain of the Costa Concordia

http://www.huffingto..._n_4253884.html

 

Not quite the analogy I was looking for.  His was a dereliction of duty.  Cody13 is trying to do the right thing.  

 

Pro tip: Always negotiate severance.  

 

~This pro tip brought to you by someone who gets fired... a lot....

 

Really, at some point, you have to decide if the (seemingly) insurmountable task of making someone care enough to loose/spend money is worth it.  I take the easy way out with management commitment - if they aren't committed, I'm outta there.  It's not an easy choice for everyone to make, but if you realize early that getting basic necessities is a challenge, you may wanna jump ship.  If they don't value your expertise, screw 'um!  You didn't wanna work there anyway, right?

 

You Go Girl !  I agree if you they don't value your expertise and are not going to do it right, find someone who will. 


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#23 That Guy

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Posted 17 November 2014 - 11:51 AM

Well I'm glad that the discussion between everyone is pretty much the same as what has been going back and forth in my own head. It is not an easy decision to make. I am not ready to give up yet, but I am also no longer afraid that giving up would be the wrong decision to make. I feared that giving up would just mean that I am not up to the challenge. Sometimes things just can't be done, you can't force change on people. I will continue to do what I am paid to do, I will document everything, and keep my office clean so I can make a quick exit if another opportunity comes along.

 

 

Mr.Incognito, I believe we are from the same area, let me know if you see any good job opportunities. I think I will need a backup plan, just in case...


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#24 maara91

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Posted 17 November 2014 - 01:45 PM

Cody13,

Have you considered the BRC certification instead of SQF?  

In my opinion, BRC requires less layers of management to gain certification. The standards are similar, however; for a smaller place I would recomend BRC.


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#25 That Guy

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Posted 17 November 2014 - 07:49 PM

I don't know any thing about BRC, it was managements decision to go with SQF and I am not sure what lead them to that choice. 

 

I wrote an email today detailing our current SQF Implementation status, what we still need to accomplish and some of the resources needed. I also requested that we conduct a gap audit, hopefully this will show management how far we still have to go and the expense involved.

 

I doubt I will sleep much tonight, the email was a very straight forward breakdown of each element in module 2 and module 11 of the SQF code, and I think management is used to things being sugar coated and delivered with smiles.


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