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

By Srisuphaolarn, Suphawan | Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, April 2008 | Go to article overview

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


Srisuphaolarn, Suphawan, Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship


The Three Signs of a Miserable Job-a Fable for Managers (and Their Employees) Patrick Lencioni JOSSEY-BASS, (2007) 255 pages, Hardcover, $24.95

Reviewed by Suphawan Srisuphaolarn, Kasetsart University (Bangkok, Thailand)

Even though the behavioral view of organization theory has been discussed for many decades, and practices in the Japanese companies confirmed that people in the organizations could be the sources of competitive advantages, few books show a vivid and straightforward story of how to get the company's best assets out of their "Sunday Blues." With backgrounds in business consulting as well as experiences with various types of organizations, Lencioni has pointed out the simple yet often neglected tips on leading a team.

The book is divided into two parts-the fable and the model. In the fable, it is the story telling of Brian Bailey, a man who is fascinated by the job of manager. After selling the company and becoming retired, he became involved in managing a dying pizza restaurant. There he tried to prove his theory of what could make a person feel miserable in his/her job. He proposed that it is the job of a manager to make his/her team members understand that their jobs have consequences on somebody else's work and lives. Setting clear, attainable and measureable goals would help them to assess those consequences and impacts. The point is to determine where the employees should initiate the measurement with the manager or team leader as a coach. In addition, on the contrary to conventional thinking, a manager should get to know the employees in person so that they feel like they are somebody, and not a just a number in the organization. These tasks will help employees feel that the jobs are more fulfilling and they have a reason to get up to go to work in the morning.

Brian got the experiment started and the signs of improvement could be observed-bigger tips, higher sales, and so forth. Though he could not stay until the second phase of the experiment ended, he later received correspondence from his co-owner and previous colleagues that the restaurant could resume its fame. After the pizza restaurant, Brian also turned his theory into practice at "an underperforming medium-sized company" which distributed sporting goods via chain stores in Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Montana. This time, he got his experiment underway in the non-service company. After success in American companies, Brian moved to render consulting services at a high-end hotel chain based in London, guided by the stories that his theory could be a non-country specific one.

In the second part of the book, the model, the author summed up the ideas or lessons learned from the stories as well as the possible cases in various careers. In conclusion, the three signs of a miserable job are anonymity, irrelevance and immeasurability. Anonymity occurs when employees feel like they are nobody in the organization. …

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