Monday, October 20, 2008

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job

I just finished reading The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni (who is most well known for the best selling The Five Dysfunctions of a Team) and found it particularly interesting, given the times we are in. What do you think he has identified as the three signs of a miserable job?

He says the three signs are: Anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurement (a word that you won’t find in any dictionary). He says about anonymity that “People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in a position of authority.” About irrelevance he says, “Everyone needs to know that their job matters to someone. Anyone. Without seeing a connection between the work and the satisfaction of another person or group of people, an employee simply will not find lasting fulfillment.” And finally, about immeasurement, he adds, “Without a tangible means for assessing success or failure, motivation eventually deteriorates as people see themselves as unable to control their own fate.”

Not everyone will agree if these are the right or best signs of a miserable job, but they are thought provoking and serve as a reminder that each one of is ultimately responsible for a sense satisfaction (and lack of) in our jobs and careers. Certainly, there are many things about our work that are annoying and beyond our control, but even on the worst of days, we can find ways to be happy and fulfilled. The challenge is keeping things in perspective and not letting the “miserable” aspects of a job dominate our attention or allowing ourselves to get too caught up about things over which we have little or no control.

I try to guide my clients to find for themselves the proper balance between control and acceptance, and then use that awareness and understanding to move forward in their work and lives. Some days this is easy, and others it is hard and daunting. However, by paying attention to how we see and interpret the ebb and flow of our work lives, we can choose how best to respond and react to those circumstances. This, I believe, is the way out of a “miserable” job or career.
Best wishes.

Mark Guterman