Are you a Builder or Maintainer?

Posted by Trevor on 23 April 2012 | Post a Comment

In today’s economy, some people may not consider job satisfaction as important as having a job in the first place. The truth is, however, that your personality determines how quickly job stagnation becomes an issue. Many leadership gurus claim there are really only two types of employee personality; the Builder, and the Maintainer. Several blogs go to great lengths to explain the two types, but it is fairly self-evident. Builders like to create new things with the inherent risks and rewards at stake. Maintainers prefer the security of regular tasks with risks and rewards that are predictable. Hired by the right company, and placed in the right type of job both can enjoy a high level of satisfaction.

Several studies show a strong relationship between employee satisfaction and customer loyalty so it is important for companies to recognize the need to match personality type to a job challenge and smart companies engage personality tests to assist their decisions.

It is also important to recognize that as companies evolve, the level of job satisfaction can change for each type. I once joined a young, innovative company that took a unique approach to the hiring process. Their mantra was to hire only the very best in each position, and they went to great lengths to headhunt their targets. The first year in the company provided me with a high level of job satisfaction, because we were building something exciting and original. Because the company had hired only excellent people, however, I soon found myself a bit bored. I was trapped in my one role, whereas in previous positions I had been surrounded by less experienced people and worked across different functions, oftentimes having to go into crisis management mentality. Here everything ran so smoothly, I felt stagnation arrive sooner than I would have imagined.

I often see common symptoms of boredom in small companies, mostly involving their founders who also become the CEO. They are unique personalities. Their motivation and personal reward emanate from building their companies from nothing. Through their hard work, operations soon begin to flourish, the business becomes successful and everybody starts making money. Unfortunately, this is also the point when a founder/CEO can start showing signs of restlessness because that passion to build an organization from startup no longer exists. I have frequently seen them even resort to indirectly creating problems themselves, so that they can then “put out the fires,” and thus have something to do that fulfills them.

I have always advocated that one of the secrets to being an exceptional CEO is having the courage and maturity to step aside and let a maintainer type of personality assume the reins of operation. Do not risk destroying your own company in a quest to curb or stop your own stagnation. Instead, stand aside, then go build something new. There are numerous CEOs in the business community willing to take over promising companies and turn them into huge successes, but you must take the first step toward initiating that transition.

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