The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (and Their Employees) / Edition 1


When his employees were all seated, the new manager began.Deciding not to be clever or subtle, Brian got right to the point."Show of hands. How many of you like your jobs?"


People just looked at one another as though Brian had askedthequestion in Russian.

"Okay, let me be clearer," he smiled. "How many people here getexcited about coming to work? How many of you are in a good moodwhen you're driving here every day?"

Brian might as well have asked them if they liked being beatenwith a stick. No one raised their hand. A few of them actuallylaughed out loud.

In this, his sixth and most anticipated fable, New York Timesbest-selling author Patrick Lencioni takes on his most universaland human topic to date: misery at work.In doing so, Lencionipresents a revolutionary yet simple model for making any job morerewarding and fulfilling.

Lencioni tells the unforgettable story of Brian Bailey, anabruptly retired executive searching for meaning in his career andhis life. Through a series of twists and turns that take him fromthe executive suite of a well-respected company to the ski slopesof Lake Tahoe to the drive-thru window of a fast-food restaurant,Brian discovers the three universal causes of anguish andfrustration at work, and the keys to overcoming them. Whether he'strying to convince an investment banker that job satisfactionmatters, or motivating a pizza delivery driver to be friendlier tocustomers, Brian is forced to confront aspects of himself, andothers, that make job misery a painful reality in so manyorganizations.

Whether you're an executive looking to establish a culturalcompetitive advantage, a manager trying to engage and motivate yourpeople, or an employee searching for fulfillment in your work, TheThree Signs of a Miserable Job will provide you with immediaterelief—and hope.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Lencioni, a consultant, speaker and bestselling author (The FiveDysfunctions of a Team), pinpoints the reasons behind and waysaround what many consider a constant of the human condition: jobdissatisfaction. According to Lencioni, job-fueled misery canultimately seep into all aspects of life, leading to drug andalcohol abuse, violence and other problems, making this examinationof job misery dynamics a worthy pursuit. Through the "simple" taleof a retired CEO-turned-pizzeria manager, Lencioni reveals thethree corners of the employee unhappinesspyramid—immeasurability, anonymity and irrelevance—andhow they contribute to dissatisfaction in all jobs and at alllevels (including famously unfulfilled celebrities and athletes).The main culprit is the distancing of people from each other(anonymity), which means less exposure to the impact their work has(immeasurability), and thus a diminished sense of their own utility(irrelevance). While his major points could have been communicatedmore efficiently in a straightforward self-help fashion, hisfictional case study proves an involving vessel for his model andstrategies (applicable to managers and lower-level staff alike),and an appendix-like final chapter provides a helpfullystripped-down version. (Aug.) (Publishers WeeklyAnnex (Online), July 30, 2007)

"Lencioni knows how to spin a good yarn and he weaves in plentyof advice…this book is essential reading." (BritishAirways Business Life, October 2007)

"…well-written fable…a must-read" (AccountingTechnician, October 2007)

"...filled with actionable advice...A must-read for managers andemployees alike seeking to get the most out of their jobs." (Securities & Investment Review, November 2007)

“…written in such a way that you'll find yourselfwanting to know what happens to the characters“ (PersonnelToday, March 2008)

"As with all lencioni's books, this one is filled withactionable advice you can put into effect immediately."(PublicNet, September 24, 2008)

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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2580787995310
  • Manufacturer: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/17/2007
  • Series: J-B Lencioni Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)
  • These items ship to U.S. address only. No APO/FPO.

Meet the Author

Patrick M. Lencioni is founder and president of The Table Group, a management consulting firm specializing in executive team development and organizational health. As a consultant and keynote speaker, he has worked with thousands of senior executives in organizations ranging from Fortune 500s and high-tech start-ups to universities and nonprofits. He is the author of six nationally recognized books, including the New York Times best-seller The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

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Table of Contents

Introduction vii

The Fable

Shock 3

Part One: The Manager 5

Part Two: Retirement 21

Part Three: The Experiment 59

Part Four: Going Live 167

The Model

The Miserable Job 217

The Cost of Misery 219

The Three Signs 221

The Benefits and Obstacles of Managing for Job Fulfillment 224

Exploring and Addressing the Causes of Job Misery 229

Case Studies 239

Taking Action 250

The Ministry of Management 253

Acknowledgments 255

About the Author 259

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 24 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Topic. Great Book.

    This is a great topic and an easy read. While it is a one-trick book, the topic is so deep and varied that it can fill an entire book. A lot of managerial books that cover a single topic are often shallow and sometimes even fails to offer ways to correct the problems associated with the topic. That is not the case with this book. <BR/><BR/>The author provides a clear, operational definition of a miserable job. If you have moved around in your career (or not!) you can easily relate to these bad jobs. <BR/><BR/>I was very glad to see the author lay the bulk of the blame at the manager's feet. This is where it belongs but man. The relationship between the employee and their direct supervisor is one of the most important in that person's life. <BR/><BR/>The three signs are defined as: <BR/><BR/>Anonymity - In a recent training class for managers, I asked them to list their subordinates and then to tell me the name of the spouses and name at least one of their children. I struck out. Not a single person could pull this off. <BR/><BR/>Irrelevance - I am reminded of the two stone cutters. One said his job was hot, dusty and hard. The other enlightened cutter told everyone he was building a cathedral. What a difference between the workers! <BR/><BR/>"Immeasurement" or not being able to tell if your work is contributing to the success of the organization or themselves. For me, an analogy would be given the job of driving a car cross country but not being given a map, fuel gauge or speedometer. <BR/><BR/>Buy this book if you want to reduce your employee turnover and help with retention. This is right on point and I can highly recommend it. Michael L. Gooch, SPHR

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2008

    I liked it!

    Decent book! but I will always be miserable at work! thats why they call it work!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2013

    The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Th

    The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees)by Patrick M. Lencioni examines three causes of job dissatisfaction. Focused on the executive and management teams, Mr. Lencioni illustrates the harmful effects of anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurability on worker performance and ultimately the organization's success. He then prescribes actions that can be taken to overcome these obstacles thereby increasing employee productivity and engagement which subsequently improves organizational performance.

    Employee performance serves as the foundation for the organization's overall performance. When employee efforts are optimized and aligned to common mission goals, the organization realizes its greatest value potential.

    Creating job satisfaction and thereby earning employee engagement and promoting focused, productive work effort is the responsibility of every executive and manager. I like The Three Signs of a Miserable Job because it highlights the fundamental job satisfaction needs shared by all employees and the barriers preventing these needs from being met. As with all of his previous fables, Mr. Lencioni offers actionable steps executives and managers can take in order to eliminate these barriers. Additionally, Mr. Lencioni's recommended actions support what I believe is key to sustained, superior success; shared vision, focus, and commitment.

    As a business novel, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job presents its principles for improving job satisfaction through a believable, vividly illustrated, and easily related to story of two organizations struggling to improve performance. Many of the best practice recommendations found on the StrategyDriven website compliment the actions prescribed in The Three Signs of a Miserable Job; making this book a StrategyDriven recommended read.

    All the Best,
    Nathan Ives
    StrategyDriven Principal

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  • Posted November 25, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    The Man Knows of What He Speaks!!

    An easy read ... enlightening examples ... easy narrative.

    Very informative ... of course I thought so since I related to so much of what the author wrote.

    There's nothing like reading part of your work history in another's account of the issue!!

    Probably should be required reading in any MBA curriculum .... just so those emerging MBA's have a real handle on the real world!!

    I enjoyed it thoroughly. Keep it on your bookshelf!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2008

    Must read

    This is a must read for anyone who has a job, especially Leaders. The book is written in such a way that you do not want to put it down. I read this complete book in two sittings because the book is written in story form where you just want to know what is next. Contrary to what most may think about the title it is a very upbeat book that shows you how you can make an impact in your employees life with 3 simple concepts and how as an employee you can empower yourself to truely enjoy any line of work. I manage an office of around 12 people and plan on having all of my employees read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2008

    My Overview of The Three Signs of a Miserable Job

    The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Mangers (and their employees), by Patrick Lencioni, is a great and an informative book. It gives insight in ways to improve business life and relationships with your boss. If you're looking to improve your work life by finding it more rewarding then this is a must read. This book encompasses many aspects on why a job may seem miserable. Lencioni also offers some remedies that may improve a miserable job. A great book for an employer and employees as well! A must read for the working man.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2007

    Caring & Showing it - Servant Leadership

    As a consultant to executives and Boards, I see a growing interest in accountability and results, and systems that they believe will produce results. However, the piece they all too often miss is that unless the people who they lead, know and believe they care and show them, the results will probably not get achieved. What Patrick outlines in this his latest fable, is simple and yet so difficult to convince leaders of its fundamental importance. It reminds me of the axiom 'I don't care what you know, until I know that you care'. If you want evidence that this works, go look into the companies Jim Collins identified in Good To Great, and you'll find leaders who practice this day in and day out. If you show your people you care, then they'll start to trust you and you'll be able to move toward building a 'Team' as Patrick suggests in his other books. Leaders in whatever capacity need to understand that unless they lead by example, they'll likely never achieve the results they would like in their organization. It may be simple, but unless leaders commit to practicing this daily, and allow themselves to be held to account, it won't be believed by those they are trying to lead. This book is long overdue and could make a serious difference in the quality of products and services that we in North America would like to see. It could just be our competitive edge in the Global market.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2007

    Clarity on a Cloudy Business Issue

    We interact with 60+ CEOs in Northern Indiana and now we have something that helps these companies. Pat in his fable / easy read style effectively communicates solid solutions to a cloudy vital issue with clarity and simplicity. His findings will impact both your business and personal life.

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