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The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Management Fable About Helping Employees Find Fulfillment in Their Work

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  4,355 ratings  ·  396 reviews
A bestselling author and business guru tells how to improve your job satisfaction and performance.In his sixth fable, bestselling author Patrick Lencioni takes on a topic that almost everyone can relate to: the causes of a miserable job. Millions of workers, even those who have carefully chosen careers based on true passions and interests, dread going to work, suffering ...more
Hardcover, 259 pages
Published August 1st 2007 by Jossey-Bass (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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Start your review of The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Management Fable About Helping Employees Find Fulfillment in Their Work
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
How I wish I could mail this to almost every boss I've had. The largest part is taken up by a fable which illustrates the ideas of the book, while the second part goes into more detail on how to implement the ideas and what they really mean. The three signs are:

1. Anonymity
2. Irrelevance
3. Immeasurement

1. Anonymity

All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in a position of authority. People who see themselves as invisible, generic, or anonymous
Jul 02, 2012 rated it liked it
We are using this book in a leadership team meeting this fall to promote discussion among company leaders about their role in employee satisfaction, and eventually, the bottom line.

This is a quick read -- set up as the "fable" of Brian Bailey - a skilled, natural manager who rises to the top and understands people at all levels. As a young leader, Brian takes a small exercise equipment company from mediocre performance to the top of the industry. However, when he's forced to sell the company,
Nov 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Not a particularly compelling narrator, but I enjoyed this. Mostly I just wanted an entire novel on the people in the restaurant, but I understand that the book had different goals in mind :D

Definitely some good stuff in here, and practical advice, though occasionally unrealistic approaches.
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Anonymity, Irrelevance, Immeasurement
Iman Shabani
A very nice read indeed, I will be giving this more reading time later on. I can recommend you to do so as well.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
It reminds me of a very long graduate school case study. (In a good way, if that is possible!)
Luke Koskinen
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love lencioni. And this book is no different. Some good tools and questions to ask yourself about your work and management at any level.
Marian Willeke
Jan 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Any manager
Shelves: non-fiction, business
Having just taken a position that oversees a team, I knew intrinsic motivation would be key for each of them to experience a successful outcome. As such, I took to heart the recommendation to read this book (among others). While reading is enjoyable for me, I was surprised with my swallowing this book whole within 24 hours, post-it notes being scribbled as I went through, accidentally identifying the first two signs before I knew that that they were the official signposts to turning around ...more
Jordan Silva
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another good Lencioni read.

Sometimes I listen to these books, and at the very end hear the original publication dates and try to think back to where I was when the book was written, and wonder how things might be different had I read it then instead of now (a decade later). Books like this one might have changed a lot of things, but at the same time, it is possible I just wouldn't have gotten the message back then.

The TL;DR of the book is your employees want to know you care, want to know what
Mar 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
Believe it or not my boss is making me read it.
Phil Meyer
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Enjoyed this short read about employee fulfillment or the lack thereof. Lencioni's model is very similar to the Self-determination theory model (Autonomy - Control of your time, Competence - refers to mastery of unambiguously useful things, and relatedness - the feeling of connection to others.) but replaces autonomy by essentially splitting relatedness into two parts 1) being known and 2) relevance.

People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings need
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wasn't expecting to like this book as much as I did. It's a book on business management principles, but written as a story with fictional characters. Once I got over the fact that it's just a story and not literature, I liked it more. It was easier to read than straight-up theory. Best part is that the message of the book is fundamentally to treat your employees like human beings: know them, remind them how they matter, and help them to figure out how to measure their growth.
Crimson Sparrow
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every manager needs to read this book.

Every person needs to read this book.

Some of the principles featured here I had figured out on my own; they made the difference between sanity and insanity in my academic career and in several work environments. But I needed more, and true to Lencioni's reputation, this brought it together for me.

I read this and quit my miserable job of 12 years. Now I'm applying these principles to my freelance work and I have some important tools to help weed through
Kevin McDonagh
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
A miserable job is not the same as a bad one. Through a consideration of my effect on those around me, this book may have forever changed my approach and understanding of management.
Dec 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
In his sixth fable, bestselling author Patrick Lencioni takes on a topic that almost everyone can relate to: the causes of a miserable job. Millions of workers, even those who have carefully chosen careers based on true passions and interests, dread going to work, suffering each day as they trudge to jobs that make them cynical, weary, and frustrated. It is a simple fact of business life that any job, from investment banker to dishwasher, can become miserable. Through the story of a CEO turned ...more
2.5 / 5

The premise of the book is that it follows the life of a recently retired CEO as he develops a theory on what makes a job miserable. This doesn't mean low pay, but instead means a job that is extremely unsatisfying. According to the author, the three main signs of a miserable job are:

1) Anonymity
This is when those around you, and especially your manager, do not know you as a person.
2) Irrelevance
This is when it is unclear who your job affects, be it a customer, another employee, or your
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I didn't read this book to find out if I have a miserable job. I read it to find out if the people I supervise have one. This book is clearly written for managers, etc. even though it claims to be useful for other employees. The moral for non-supervisors: try to not work at a miserable job!

This was my first Lencioni book and I was pretty surprised. You could fit the practical content onto about 15 pages or so. The rest of the book is a story, which serves as an extended parable demonstrating the
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
The fable behind this book was actually very enjoyable and made it stand out for me from other leadership and management books. I always said you can't teach people to care about their jobs, but this book has me questioning that phrase. I think it is very interesting and really liked reading the examples and practical breakdowns at the end of the book after the fable. I think this book would benefit managers more than employees, because employees might just get frustrated at their inability to ...more
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership
As a big Lencioni fan, I'm not sure how I missed this one from almost 10 years ago. Another fable with some great points about employee engagement. Simple, but not easy, reminders to help employees see the meaning in their work, give them measurable things to work on, and get to know and care about them as people.
I'm a big fan of Patrick Lencioni's business parables.
Tõnu Vahtra
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains." Steve Jobs

The three root causes of job misery are at first glance obvious and seemingly easy to resolve. And yet they remain largely unaddressed in most organizations.


People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings
Allen Jr.
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: followership
Although this is now the 4th book by Patrick Lencioni that I've read, I wouldn't necessarily label myself as a fan. His typical presentation format of beginning with a fable (in this case, 213 pages worth) that illustrates his principles and then following that with a relatively brief portion (40 pages) explicitly describing his model still makes me question whether that's the most effective use of time and space.

That being said, I found the fable in this book the best of any of his that I've so
Elliard Shimaala
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was reading the Pdf version of this book on my office computer whenever my table was clear or when I had few commitments and meetings to attend. As a result it took me longer than usual to finish it - something I'm glad I did. I don't think my boss will be to upset with me seeing that I was improving my management or should I say people skills. After all, our organization is a learning organization #wink

There are a number of reasons why corporate people will lampoon this fable. The following
R. Andrew Lamonica
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
My work is offering me and my fellow managers training from Mr. Lencioni's firm. So, I figured I would see what all the fuss was about. And, you know, I liked the book and the ideas within.

First, the book. The title is a bit click-baity and I think it actually targets the wrong audience (employees rather than managers). But, the title does let you know that the this story is a fable. Like all good fables, it is simple and has a easily-discernible message and it heavy-handed in delivering that
Todd Buegler
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, first, the new title of the book, "The Truth About Employee Engagement" is a better title.

Secondly, I thought it was a good book. I've been a fan of Patrick Lencioni's books and his style of teaching for awhile now. And while I loved "The Ideal Team Player," and some of his other titles, I thought this book was good, but not great.

The story/fable didn't quite grab ahold of me like other ones have, and I would have liked a little more depth in exploring the three causes of unhappiness with
David Lott
A self-help book for managers and employees. The book uses three identifiable ways to make managers better bosses by helping employees enjoy their job more.

This 250+ page book is written in two parts. The first part is a fictional narrative that follows the life and career of a manager who believes that having people enjoy their job makes a company better. The second part is a text book style analysis of the three steps outlined in the book. I found it kind of odd that the fable part of this
Jason Carter
Like all of Lencioni's books with which I am familiar, this book is separated into two parts: 1) A business fable which illustrates the main point(s) they author wants to make; and 2) The "model" of management illustrated by the fable.

In this instance, Lencioni argues that employee engagement has a direct correlation to the bottom line, and that employee engagement is normally negatively impacted by three factors: 1) Immeasurement; 2) Irrelevance; and 3) Anonymity.

I like Lencioni not so much
There are some good takeaways and overall the story was good, but it was just too over the top for my personal taste. When I read non-fiction and books I like the anecdotes and stories that help reinforce the message the author is trying to relay, but generally prefer that they are a condensed version. This book read more like a novel than a book about being a better manager. Towards the end of each chapter there was always a moment where the story was being built up or bridged towards the next ...more
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just cannot fault the books by Patrick Lencioni.

The style of a fable, the key messages around leadership and the challenge he puts out there for us all to get better is brilliant.

This book focuses on the "job misery" model of irrelevance, immeasurement (yes he uses a non-word, let's just get over it) and anonymity.

Essentially, he provides 3 themes to address to achieve powerful engagement:
- People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings need to be understood
Brandon Anderson
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book had me thinking for months. I first heard Patrick Lencioni at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, an energetic and engaging speaker. Just about everyone can relate to a miserable job. Three Signs tells the story of Brian, a CEO that leaves his high-paying job and becomes the manager at a small Colorado pizzeria filled with grumpy and disinterested employees. The employees are miserable, and Brian makes it his mission to figure out why. He investigates the three miseries of ...more
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Patrick Lencioni is a New York Times best-selling author, speaker, consultant and founder and president of The Table Group, a firm dedicated to helping organizations become healthy. Lencioni’s ideas around leadership, teamwork and employee engagement have impacted organizations around the globe. His books have sold nearly three million copies worldwide.

When Lencioni is not writing, he consults to
“. . . his biggest problem was his need for a problem.” 9 likes
“Because people who aren't good at their jobs don't want to be measured, because then they have to be accountable for something. Great employees love that kind of accountability. They crave it. Poor ones run away from it.” 1 likes
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