Have you ever found yourself stepping into a situation at work or at home, and taking on the task of solving other people’s problems?
Perhaps at the expense of your time, energy, and even money, you tend to step in to save the day?
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the demands of constantly trying to solve problems?
Have you ever wondered if your help might be preventing others from learning how to solve their problems themselves?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you might recognize yourself as a “fixer”.
The fixer role is a familiar one for many of us, often stemming from circumstances throughout upbringing and life experiences where we stepped in to help.
What is a fixer?
A “fixer” is someone who takes on the responsibility of mending, resolving, or “fixing” situations, often involving others’ issues and problems.
While the fixer role can emerge in any context, it is particularly prominent in the workplace and within family dynamics.
The fixer typically steps in to mitigate conflicts, handle crises, or provide solutions, often shouldering the brunt of emotional or logistical challenges.
If you resonate with the fixer role, most likely you also resonate with bearing the weight of others’ problems.
Meaning, you often pick up the pieces of those who neglect their responsibilities so they don’t experience negative repercussions in their personal and professional lives.
Even though fixers are trying to be helpful to those around them, they can inadvertently rob others of the chance to build necessary skills to take responsibility and improve their own lives.
Origins of the Fixer Role
There’s no single path to becoming a fixer.
The origins of this role vary widely and often trace back to early experiences in childhood.
For some, being a fixer may have started as a coping strategy to create harmony during a tumultuous upbringing.
As children, fixers often assume a protective role in the family stepping in to ease conflict or care for younger siblings.
Alternatively, the role might have emerged out of necessity if parents and other adults were frequently absent or unresponsive, pushing them to step up and take charge at a young age.
Children who are step in to assume an inappropriate amount of responsibility in their family at an early age often hold on to fixer tendencies later in life.
One of my clients recently said
“I remember as young as eight or nine years old making funeral arrangements for a family member because the adults weren’t stepping up. I just took charge when they didn’t so the funeral could happen. Today in my leadership role, it’s second nature for me to fix problems.”
Others may develop the fixer role through parent’s modeling to step in and take care of others.
Perhaps one or both parents were in a helping profession, teaching them the value of care and service.
The Impact of the Fixer Role
Being a fixer isn’t inherently negative. In fact, it can bring several benefits, including a sense of purpose, contribution, and importance.
Fixers are often seen as reliable, capable, and dedicated – traits that are valuable in various contexts, especially in professional environments.
When unchecked, the fixer role can also lead to stress, burnout, and resentment.
Fixers may find themselves caught in a perpetual cycle of solving other people’s problems, leaving little time or energy to tend to their needs.
This often leads to feelings of being overwhelmed and strain in personal relationships. It’s not uncommon for fixers to have physical health problems as a result of high stress levels.
While helping others is a key part of a healthy team, it’s important to step back and reassess if you’re playing the fixer role is preventing others from taking responsibility and solving their problems.
Grab your FREE Workplace Family Factor Assessment® and see how your upbringing has impacted impacted your tendency to be a fixer when conflict arises and what you can do about it.
After you take the assessment, you’ll get practical productive conflict tips specific to your conflict style you can implement immediately.
Looking for more ways to know if you’re a fixer? Here are a few more:
- If you are the fixer with your team, read this
- How to know when helping is hurting
- 5 signs you’re a pleaser
About the author
Bonnie Artman Fox, MS, LMFT works with executive leaders who want to gain self-awareness about the impact of their words and actions and up-level their interpersonal skills.
Drawing from decades as a psychiatric nurse and licensed family therapist, Bonnie brings a unique perspective to equip executive leaders with the roadmap to emotional intelligence that brings teams together.
Bonnie’s leadership Turnaround coaching program has an 82% success rate in guiding leaders to replace abrasive behavior with tact, empathy, and consideration of others. The end result is a happy, healthy, and profitable workplace…sooner vs. later.