The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers(and Their Employees)

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers(and Their Employees)

By Patrick Lencioni
Jossey-Bass 2007, 260 pp., $24.95 (hardcover)

Author of the 2005 best seller Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Lencioni tackles one of the most persistent management problems of all time: job dissatisfaction. His method is similar to his approach in his other books: through a story of a manager — a former CEO — who decides to take over a pizza shop. He runs into the expected employee disgruntlement and lack of motivation and begins to explore its causes.

What he finds is what the title alludes to: the three signs of a miserable job, or, more accurately, the three areas that can make a job — any job, even prestigious ones like pro athlete or movie star — miserable. They are Anonymity, Irrelevance and what Lencioni calls Immeasurement, which is an inability to assess one's value or contributions to an enterprise. Anonymity refers to the feeling of being a cog in a machine, and Irrelevance is the feeling that what one does in one's job makes no difference in the lives of others.

Lencioni tends to blame direct managers for alienating their employees by means of these three pathologies.

Are you one of the managers he's talking about? Read this book to find out…