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Builders, Cutters and Maintainers: An Introduction

March 15, 2011

For some time I have wanted to write a somewhat politically incorrect blog series about the three types of people you find in most any organization, Builders, Cutters and Maintainers.  The underlying message is that organization leadership must require a “No Cutter Policy” to compete.  That is, Human Resources and Executive Leadership must be willing to take a stand and remove any and every poor performer from the organization.  In addition, poor and mediocre hires must be excluded from the applicant list.While this blog may, at first, come across as provocative, I believe that if you carefully consider the points, you will find a certain “do the right thing” wisdom.

After more than 25 years of studying of human behavior, I have found that the simplest form of classifying people in organizations is to use the following 3 terms:

Builders: “A” players who have a passion for their job and have a knack for making the right decisions and getting things done. Builders are achievement-oriented and tend to hold themselves and others to higher standards.  Builders are the “go to” people in your company.

Cutters: Poor performers who do damage to your organization.  One or more traits can account for why someone is a Cutter.  It may be a bad attitude, abrasive interpersonal skills, poor critical thinking, laziness, poor job fit.  Whatever the reason, these individuals damage morale, hurt client relationships and/or make costly mistakes.

Maintainers: “B” players who serve the role of maintaining consistency.  They are the steady Eddies and steady Edna’s of the work world.  Maintainers generally are not apt to move from company to company and are pleased to do an adequate job, receive a paycheck and hit the road on time.

As a leader in your organization, your responsibility is to:

  • Remove Cutters
  • Hire Builders
  • Motivate Maintainers to be Builders

In the blogs that follow we will discuss the following related topics:

  • “Don’t Be Afraid to Cut Cutters”
  • “Cutters – The Death Knell”
  • “Building Builders”
  • “The Valuable Role Maintainers Play”
  • “If You Keep Cutters, This is Likely Why”

The Ultimate Hiring Manager’s Guide

Kevin Klinvex Kevin Klinvex was a founding partner of Select International, acquired by PSI. He is a thought leader in organization-wide hiring and retention programs. His work focused on combining powerful testing and assessment tools with the best in web-based delivery and data tracking. Kevin co-authored the best-selling book, Hiring Great People.