There was some skepticism when it was first introduced, but Taylor reinforced to his staff that there’s nothing about this test that’s good or bad — no right or wrong answer.
“It is who you are. You can’t hide it,” he says. “I mean it’s your DNA. This is who you are. And so we talk about appreciating differences. We’ve given them a language.”
Seven years on, Taylor says the Welty team embraces the approach. It’s helped Welty take advantage of people’s strengths instead of spending time trying to get them to do what they’re not good at. That means the company isn’t exhausting people because they’re working a job that isn’t a natural fit for them.
“The closer we can line up a job with what your natural, God-given abilities are, the more rewarded you’re going to be and the better you’re going to be at it. That’s part of leadership for us — putting people in the right place to succeed,” Taylor says.
HBDI is the X factor that enables Welty to be successful, according to Taylor. He says the approach has improved engagement, which in turn raised productivity and improved retention. Since he took full ownership of the business in 1999, it has doubled in size five times.
“We’re experiencing about 40 to 50 percent growth every year,” he says.
But growth comes with its own challenges.
As someone who started in the field, wheelbarrow and shovel in hand, he says his perception of leadership had been that the boss always had to have the right answer. Today he admits that’s seldom the case, so it’s his obligation to put the right people in the room to get to the right answer, get a commitment and then implement it.
“I’ve learned as much from this process as anybody here — that you have blind spots,” he says. “You can’t do it all yourself. You’ve got to rely on the team that’s around you to be successful.”
That insight has informed how Taylor has built his executive team. Rather than consult solely with experienced construction professionals, Taylor has brought in executives from ExxonMobil, Sherwin-Williams, ICI Paints and GE, and has members who represent competitors in the construction industry. This helps the company think differently than other contractors, and helps with the development of Welty’s organizational structure.
“We have a lot of people sitting at the table that have had high-level exposure to billion-dollar companies so that we understand how we’re going to get there,” he says. “Most of the time, the challenge for companies that are growing is that they don’t anticipate the structure that they’re going to need or the challenges that they’re going to have until they’re hit in the face with them.”