Patrick Lencioni captivates his audience with his striking ability to carefully weave poignant life and leadership lessons into memorable fables with compelling anecdotes. This book is no exception. Lencioni defines a miserable job as being “…one that makes a person cynical, frustrated and demoralized when they go home at night. It drains them of their energy, their enthusiasm and their self-esteem. Miserable jobs can be found in any industry at any level. Misery spans all income levels, ages and geography.”
Mr. Lencioni articulates the three signs of a miserable job:
Anonymity – employees feeling that their managers have little interest in them as a human being and knows very little about their lives, aspirations and interests.
Irrelevance – employees not knowing how their jobs make a difference in the lives of others including job impacts on their customers, co-workers or even their managers.
“Immeasurement” – employees inability to assess their level of contributions and successes on a given day or in a given week, and who must rely on the subjective opinions of others , usually their managers, to gauge their progress.
He also offers three practical solutions to those in leadership positions:
1. Take a genuine interest in your people,
2. Remind them of the impact that their work has on others; and
3. Help them establish creative ways to measure and assess their performance.
The primary source and the potential cure for job misery resides with two key stakeholders — the direct manager AND the employee. Gallup as well as other evidentiary-based resources tell us that an employee’s relationship with his/her direct manager is the most important determinant to employee satisfaction (superseding pay, benefits, perks, work-life balance, etc.) While that’s true and it’s certainly the manger’s role to grow and nurture the manager/employee relationship, the reality is that employees must also take charge of their own destiny by effectively managing upward if/as necessary. If we observe Achievers and how they skillfully break through the most formidable of barriers prior to declaring a job “miserable”, they will proactively take steps to develop a genuine vs. superficial relationship their manager, evaluate then seek our opportunities to appropriately market how their work positively impacts the lives of others, plus develop creative ways to both measure and respectfully advertise their performance achievements. But make no mistake — if an Achiever pursues all of the right steps and still finds him or herself in the throes of a miserable job, the Achiever will seek out opportunities elsewhere. The reverse side of the coin — if the Manager genuinely invests his or her time in building a trust-based manager/employee relationship, but the employee doesn’t respond in a positive manner, it’s truly time for the employee to seek opportunities elsewhere.
While Mr. Lencioni’s work earned a four-star rating, it fell short of the highest rating. In some cases the fables were overly-simplified in light of the book’s targeted audience.