"The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A fable for mangers and their employees" By Patrick Lencioni

There are several schools of management thought and thousands of books on the subject. Management theory can get pretty deep and technical. That's probably why most of it doesn't really work. How about your employees? I realize managers try not to know their employees on a personal level because one day they may have to fire them, but what does this do?

 People spend over 30% of their time on work related tasks. This is time spent away from family, friends and other activities. Gallup shows that 91% of employees are either disengaged or actively disengaged which means that they hate their work. Why do something you hate? All work has aspects that you will not like doing. Regardless, hating something that encompasses 30% of your time is really heart breaking and costly. Can this be fixed? The short answer is yes.

 "Three Signs of a Miserable Job" spells out three principles that are notoriously simple. The level of simplicity is probably why most organizations do not do it. I will chat about each one.

 1. Anonymity – People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. Belonging is a core requirement for humans one rung up from safety on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Belonging is so strong that you can parallel this to gang life. Gang members relate to each other and will do anything for another member because their desire to belong is human nature. Managers fear getting close to their employees because they may have to fire them one day. This is really unfortunate and can be fixed. The success of Facebook and social media companies today solidifies this notion that people need to belong. As an effective manager, it is your job to be genuinely interested in your people. There is an old saying in sales that applies here: People don’t care what you know until they know that you care and people buy from people they like. Why would it be any different from an employee / manager standpoint? It isn’t.

 2. Irrelevance – Everybody has a purpose and wants to perform. The goal is to help people become more of what they already are and help them perform for the company. In order to do this, people need to understand how their work is relevant and who depends on them. This is a bit easier to identify if you are customer facing but if you are in the back office then it is harder to see unless your manager points it out to you. Here is an example in our organization. Our software developers have to build great products or we cannot sell and create revenue. If they make bad products then our support staff’s lives become a living hell because customers are unhappy. Development makes a huge impact on customers, service and the company. EVERY position in the company has an effect just as powerful as this one. If we don’t acquire new customers as sales people then it does not matter how good the product is because the company will go out of business. Everyone needs to know that their job matters. It is the manager’s job to bring this out and show it to their direct reports.

 3. Immeasurement – College and professional sports generate billions of dollars per year in revenue. People love sports and love to compete. Would they love it if there was no scoreboard? Would they watch if there was no winner and no loser? Absolutely not! The same holds true for every job in every company. Each person has to have their own scoreboard and they need to be concrete and tied to relevance. This is the secret to great cultures. This is how to build employee engagement. Organizations with engaged employees grow 2.6 times faster than organizations with disengaged employees. You compound that year over year and you have the makings of an outstanding organization with huge competitive advantage.


I hope you found this short summary useful. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

 Until next time,
Joe at Success Progress