Editor’s note: Triangle entrepreneur and thought leader Jes Averhart, CEO of Jes & Co and host of the “Reinvention Road Trip,” is a regular WRAL TechWire contributor who explores topics pertaining to reinvention, especially prompted by the onset of the global pandemic. Her columns appear weekly. This week she discusses “builders” from her “Fab 4” framework” [creators, builders, sustainers, disruptors].

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Any of the Fab 4 can burn out when forced into a role that doesn’t suit them, but builders are especially vulnerable to this. Why? Because… of the four contributors, builders are the ones most likely to find themselves sliding into a role that doesn’t really energize them. You might think of the builder as having the greasiest wheels of the bunch; they slip-slide into the other three roles and often don’t realize it until too late.

Jes Averhart

The Versatile Builder

You see, the builder is in the mix. They’re executing on the creator’s ideas… and as they do, they can’t help but to realize that maybe—just maybe—this other idea might be better… and presto! They get thrust into the spotlight as a creator. Soon other team members are looking to them for inspiration, and the trusty builder tries to step up and fill the void.

Likewise, the builder knows the details of the project because they are on the ground making it happen. They’re in so deep that they know what’s needed. If they don’t have a quick and reliable sustainer keeping them flush with the resources necessary, the builder may start ordering supplies themselves… and doing the accounting and inventory management as well. They may end up working two jobs… until the tedium of sustainer-work wears them out.

And finally, because the builder is crafting the very product or service the company needs to survive, they may also find themselves aware of potential pitfalls. What if the end-user experiences the same problems the builder hit during QA? Soon the builder is in the disruptor’s role, and is braving the fury of the invested stakeholders.

The builder role is perhaps the most difficult role to remain securely anchored in. Perhaps because most builders are capable of playing all four roles to a degree… but more likely because the builder has the most varied vantage point. The builder sees multiple facets of the project, and therefore is aware of the many different needs.

Burnout Prevention for Builders

As a builder myself, I understand this well, and I take specific precautions to protect myself. If you also are a builder, you may want to consider the following:

  • Find a reliable sustainer that matches your energy. You need to be able to delegate all that minutiae.
  • Document your good ideas… and then hand them off to the creator on your team, maybe even in a casual setting like drinks after work. Once the creator has heard them, let it go. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen.
  • When you find yourself in the disruptor role, you need to double-triple project yourself. Most builders aren’t built for the conflict necessary to spark significant pivots. Instead, take the time to document your concerns (and the evidence backing those concerns), and then officially deliver them to someone with the power to make change.

You’ll see that at the core of this strategy is trust and surrender. Trust that your team members are capable and competent. Surrender, in that you will let your team members take it across the finish line… and will allow you to get back to the good stuff: building!

More from Jes Averhart and the “Fab Four”

Inside a Fab 4 (creators, builders, sustainers, disruptors) team: What to do when wires get crossed

How to manage your company’s ‘Fab 4:’ Creators, builders, sustainers, disruptors