It was a values based decision to leave.
Some days I speak to up to 20 – 30 candidates and my memory isn’t the best because of the sheer volume of information that I am told (nothing to do with the amount of pickling I did to my brain in the 90’s and 00’s!) So, I write most things down, notes in to my book or notes onto my database but occasionally something sticks in my brain, it stands out for all the right reasons and it was a few months ago when I asked a candidate why they were leaving their job and they said, “It was a values based decision to leave.” I LOVED this!! I thought it was the best explanation I’d heard. It was only 8 words, didn’t give much insight into the actual reason but it said so much. I told them of my admiration for how well they’d worded it and after another 25 minutes of chatting (it was the first time we’d spoken so trust had to be built) they elaborated on why they left. They didn’t go into all the ins and outs, but I completely understood why they had resigned with no job to go. And when I tell you what role they did, you too will hopefully understand. A Technical Manager in the Food Industry.
First thought…Horse Gate? No, it was nowhere near as bad as that, but it was still pretty bad. This candidate was being asked to do things that would not only affect their career, but it would affect the safety of food that was being sold in supermarkets. Now I’ve been in situations when new packaging has arrived 1 hour before launch and some of the packaging is a slightly different shade to what has been signed off. The panic is immense, but this was never a food safety issue. Decisions are made in a split second but with a sensible head on (Worzel Gummidge stylie I’m thinking!) and some of the bravest & most brilliant people I know work in food, to work at that constant pace is phenomenal. But to be asked to not only jeopardise a career that you’ve worked so hard for AS WELL as jeopardise the safety of food that is being consumed by the public, it is unacceptable. My opinion of the business that they worked for, went way down but my opinion of this candidate soared, in the opposite direction. They had eloquently put into words something that I’m not sure I could have done. They conducted themselves with dignity and respect, they hadn’t lied as to why they had left a job with no job to go to, they had been honest without saying anything derogatory about their previous employer. Utterly brilliant.
And I wrote this down on a post it note, then added it to my list of things I was going to write about. But in the last few months, I’ve given these 8 words to quite a few people. All of them Technical Managers in the food industry. In my past experience, when something goes wrong in food manufacturing, it seems that Technical Managers are usually the first in the firing line (so to speak!). Mistakes happen in businesses, like the time my Technical Manager and I opened up a product at a panel with our customer to find an ingredient in it that shouldn’t have been in it. The way my Technical Manager conducted herself was exceptional. So much so, she went on to work for the retailer as they were that impressed with how she managed the situation.
So, the point of this blog? Not really sure other than to say respect your employees especially your Technical Managers. Without food safety, your business is nothing. And look after your staff. And if you are a Technical Manager, or work in a role where you feel that you are being asked to do something that goes against every fibre in your body, don’t be afraid to stand up and speak. But choose those words very carefully. Because they can say more about you than the business you’ve left behind. Hold your head high, believe that there is a business out there whose values are fully aligned with your own, and go out there and find it. After all, fortune favours the brave and make a values based decision to join the right company for you.
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