Are You A Builder Or A Maintainer?

Because the two don't mix


OK, this is making a very broad distinction, but when you look at how people like to work, you will find that they mostly fall into one category or the other.

So what do I mean by Builders and Maintainers?

This distinction is described by Jim Bright in his book Should I Stay or Should I Go? (see book review below)

Let me start by asking you a few questions.

  • Are you a Big Picture person or do you prefer to focus on getting the detail right?
  • Do you love being involved in creating something new or do you enjoy making a ‘well oiled system’ run smoothly?
  • Do you enjoy the uncertainty of working with an idea that evolves as you go along or do you only really feel comfortable when you have a clear idea of what you should be doing?

You can see that there are clear differences in working style here and what suits one person will not suit another.

What do they look like?

If you are a builder, you will be excited by new projects where you are given a broad brief, and are encouraged to be creative in how you make it happen. You will be a great innovator and problem solver and like the idea that you can create something out of nothing. 

On the other hand, if you are a maintainer, you like the satisfaction of operating a system or routine that runs smoothly and easily.  Your focus is likely to be on a smaller scale, taking care of the detail and ensuring that what is already in place is going to continue to work well.


The two don't mix

Just looking at those two descriptions will make it clear that if you put a Builder in a job that is very maintenance orientated, or a Maintainer in a role that demands the creativity of a Builder you will not get the best results for the individual or the organisation.

So take a look at your current job and ask yourself whether it mainly requires you to be a builder or maintainer. If you are unhappy at work, is it because you are a bad ‘fit’ for the tasks and responsibilities of the role?  Likewise if you are considering a promotion or a sideways move to another company or maybe even a totally different career, take a careful look at what it will require of you.  Will it allow you to use your natural working style or will it stretch you uncomfortably into territory where you will be working outside your comfort zone most of the time?

So being clear about whether you are a Builder or a Maintainer is essential for your career development.



Which feels right for you?

If you are not sure, but are familiar with your personality type you will find that there are parallels between Bright’s Builders and Maintainers model.  If you have N & P in your profile you will probably be a Builder while of you have S & J, you are likely to be a Maintainer. Want to explore your personality type?  Then take a look at this quick personality quiz to get you started. 

Something To Think About


"Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life that you don’t need to escape from."
~ Seth Godin ~

Cherry Recommends


Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

How To Make That Crucial Job Move Decision

Jim Bright

If you are in a job that doesn’t feel like the ‘perfect fit’ for you, you may well be considering making a move.  But there is a lot to weigh up before you decide to jump ship – and sometimes the balance may favour staying put.

Jim Bright’s book Should I Stay or Should I Go? will provide you with some vital insights to help you weigh up the pro and cons of a job move. He uses a range of exercises, checklists and questionnaires to help you review your current situation, tackle the mind games you get caught up in when you are agonising over a decision and then takes you through how to tackle the Big Move (if that is what you decide to do). On the other hand, if you decide to stay put, it will help you make the most of your situation so that your career does not sink into a black hole.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? is an easy read, brought to life with examples that you can identify with.  So if you are stuck in that agonising place of indecision about quitting or staying, then I highly recommend this book.  It could be just what you need to break the log jam and move forward with your career.


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