Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Book Recap

three-signs-of-a-miserable-jobPatrick Lencioni writes “fables” to illustrate business principles. For someone who loves nothing more than losing themselves in a good novel, the plot of The Three Signs of a Miserable Job may seem a little stilted. But we’re not reading a novel here, we’re looking for guidance in our careers, so let’s look past that. In truth the use of the fable mechanism creates a context that helps us relate Lencioni’s teachings to our own experiences.

The gist of the book is this: there are three key elements of satisfaction in any job, and as a manager you have the power and the responsibility to change them all for the better.


People are more than just their jobs. When a manager recognizes that and connects with employees on a personal level, it’s the first step in building a team rather than a staff.


Everyone wants to have an impact, but in many jobs it’s hard to see exactly what that impact is. A manager is responsible for showing each employee why their work is important and how they make a difference in people’s lives.


Most people want to do a good job, but in order to do so there needs to be some sort of measurement of what exactly a “e;good job”e; is. By defining objective criteria over which the employee actually has control, the manager provides a framework for success.

The book is written from the lens of how a leader can improve staff morale, but I think there are some important lessons for regular old employees too. For me, the book helped to articulate what I was never able to about what I found dissatisfying in my work. There were a few “exactly!!” moments, and a few “well, duh” moments, and I came away with a sense of what I might be able to improve in my current position and some specifics to look for when considering future positions.

My one complaint: nobody needs to learn how to make a job miserable – the book is really about what makes a job truly rewarding. Why can’t we just say that?



Tom O'Dea

Tom is the CEO of Blissbook and is honored to lead our mission for more inspired employees. He receives tweets at @tom_odea and wishes he could spend a few years eating his way around the world.


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