If you have not read The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees) by Patrick Lencioni you will want to order a copy today. I have to say, when I read it (in two sittings I might add), I *loved it*! In fact, I wish I was managing my own team at the moment to try out his theories (well…maybe not ). He discusses the top three signs of a miserable job as Anonymity, Irrelevance, and Immeasurement (no, that’s not a real word).

To avoid anonymity a person must feel that others on the team know and understand you as a person, not just as a worker. This means managers must take a personal interest in their people. Interestingly, when I worked as a camp counselor and mentor of high school and college age students was play with them and work with them and they will do whatever you want them to. It worked. For some reason, in the work environment I have not made that clear of a connection prior to reading this book.

To avoid irrelevance a person must feel needed and know that they are doing something to benefit others. No matter how “insignificant” their job may be there is always significance. A person must recognize that or they will be miserable in their work no matter how much money they make. It is a manager’s responsibility to help each of their people ask who they are impacting and how they are helping others. Often the person they are helping most is the manger themselves and it would behoove a good manager to tell his people that honestly and regularly.

To avoid immeasurement a person must be able to assess his or her progress or success on the job on their own. That is to say, this is not about performance reviews but about how the employee themselves measures their work. A high performing person does not want to be measured on subjective views of a manager they may or may not respect. They want to know within themselves if they are succeeding or not. It is the job of a manger to help them define their own measurables.


This is just the tip of the iceberg! I recommend you grab the book. It’s written as a fable so you will finish it in two sittings tops!