Cultural and Efficiency Excellence – Using Personality Assessments to Benefit Your Organization

How can we create a safe working environment, where efficiency modeling is used to highlight our biggest resource – our people?

meeting to discuss safety
Being open to actively listening to differing opinions can enhance leadership effectiveness, creating engaging and sustainable work. Here, attendees of TCIA’s Executive Arborist Workshop in Charleston, South Carolina, this past spring visited Charleston Tree Experts to hear about its operations. TCIA staff photo.

I started my journey as a safety professional in 1997 with no discernible experience and zero knowledge of regulations, behavior-based safety or hierarchy of controls. My clean slate enabled me to look at safety and operations from a unique perspective. This perspective led me to start asking questions about why people were injured, why people made mistakes and how great operating systems were sometimes sabotaged by the human operator. One area that resonated more than any other was the psychological component of putting teams together, especially in high-risk and high-stress situations.

I examined my own failures and recognized how my psychological makeup led to significant errors in my own life.

My personal journey

To effectively communicate my current state of mind regarding cultural and efficiency excellence, you must understand my historical perspective. In 2012, I began my journey of using psychological personality tests to better understand my personality, as well as to understand the personalities of colleagues and clients. I explored various platforms while trying to understand myself and how my colleagues perceived my personality. We used a variety of tests, including Myers-Briggs, DISC, Eysenck, Keirsey and several others.

The DISC personality test

What I learned is that there is valuable information to be obtained with each of these tests, so give careful consideration when evaluating different options. The one test I gravitated toward and continue to teach and coach on today is the DISC personality test. I align with this methodology because of its ease of use, as well as its ease of communication to others who are learning the system. My advice is to research and utilize a system aligned with your organization’s goals and mission.

According to the website, DISC is an acronym that stands for the four main personality profiles described in the DISC model: (D)ominance, (I)nfluence, (S)teadiness and (C)onscientiousness. People with D personalities tend to be confident and place an emphasis on accomplishing bottom-line results. People with I personalities tend to be more open and place an emphasis on relationships and influencing or persuading others.

What DISC taught me is that I have a very polarizing personality that can bring a lot of people together toward accomplishing a goal, but also can be a detriment to teams. Through my journey, I’ve discovered that listening outweighs speaking in my most impactful interactions with teams and individuals. My personality is a high D and high I, which makes me comfortable with goals, as well as comfortable being in the spotlight.

This personality type also comes with some interesting characteristics that involve conflict, self-reliance and relationship building. I have come to realize that the best results for goals in my life have come when I lean on perspectives that are different than my own. This is inherently difficult for me, as I love to be in charge and make decisions and have a difficult time listening more than I speak!

Safety Leadership Innovators

As I embraced my own traits, positive and negative, I grew more open to actively listening to differing opinions. This enhanced my leadership effectiveness, creating engaging and sustainable work. My wife and I started Safety Leadership Innovators (SLI) in 2018 because I lacked professional fulfillment, and my work-life balance was a wreck.

SLI has continued to grow and flourish over time. We have hired amazing team members to help bring us into the future. When analyzing our need for personnel, it became apparent that we needed to hire people who thought differently than I do. We needed people who were not afraid to disagree with my perspective and had the empathy to be true leaders in this industry. Hiring diversity of thought has created an environment at SLI where efficiency has become the rule, rather than the exception.

What does that mean for the tree care industry?

I love the quote “A rising tide lifts all boats.” To me, this means that excellence and success are more sustainable when the team is lifted, not just the individual. I started this article with the idea that culture, efficiency and safety can align in any organization. This is especially true in the tree care space. Before we continue, think about the following questions.

  • Do I have teams/people in my organization who are highly motivated but make mistakes that cost the business money, time and reputation?
  • Do I have teams/people in my organization who are highly motivated but take forever completing assignments/tasks?
  • Do I have teams/people in my organization who are more concerned with having fun than accomplishing assignments/tasks?
  • If someone asks me to identify the person in my organization who is most likely to get hurt, could I easily come up with someone in my mind who fits that description?

Consider healthy conflict and perspective

Tree work is inherently difficult. Each tree pruned, trimmed or removed should be treated with the utmost respect. Mistakes are sometimes made in this industry because the people with the strongest personalities often are the ones who oversee planning and executing the task.

Earlier, I stated that my own personality encourages conflict. Healthy conflict is beneficial within teams, but compartmentalized conflict can devastate them. I have found that when I am paired with people of similar personality traits, we tend to make many more mistakes. The work does get completed quickly, but there may be mistakes made that cause damage or redoing work. Remember that my personality trait does not mind conflict, so mistakes are just another opportunity to crush another goal. These types of mistakes can cost an organization money, reputation and morale.

Teaming up with someone of a different personality forces me to slow down and plan more effectively. The work is slower at the beginning, but many times it is much more efficient. Knowing that I have some great attributes and value different perspectives leads to higher-quality work and reduced stress.

Removing stress from my life by engaging different personalities for tasks has made my quality of life much better. Realizing that I don’t always have to be in control has created an atmosphere in my own company that is much more enjoyable for everyone. Again, a rising tide should lift all boats.

If you’re wondering how you can do something similar in your organization, here is some advice.

  • Understand your mission, vision and core values.
  • Do the research on personality tests that might benefit your organization.
  • Use personality tests to enhance your organization, not as a disciplinary hammer.
  • Implement personality tests to help create teams of doers and planners.
  • Reach out to people with similar experience and learn from their journeys.
  • Lastly, make sure your teams understand the “why” behind your decision to include personality tests in your organization.

My experience and life journey have enabled me to look at safety, culture and profit from a perspective that is different today than it was in 1997. There have been many peaks and many valleys in my journey, but I have been able to reflect and learn from each independently.

I have learned that ideas with different perspectives and different inputs can lead to some amazing and sustainable results.

By engaging your workforce to become more efficient and effective, you are sending the message to your team that you care about their input and their professional fulfillment. The results could be incredible!

Joshua David Caudill, Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Associate Safety Professional (ASP), Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST), is president of Safety Leadership Innovators LLC, a four-year TCIA corporate member company headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This article is based on his presentation on the same topic during TCI EXPO ’22 in Charlotte, North Carolina. To listen to an audio recording created for that presentation, go to TCI Magazine online at Under the Resources tab, click Audio. Or, under the Current Issue tab, click View Digimag, then go to this page and click here.

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