Three signs of a miserable job

infographic lencioni

This week I’ve been reading leadership fable writer Patrick Lencioni’s book, “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job”. It’s not as depressing as the title makes it out to be, although I have received a few weird looks or comments from people who saw me reading it.

Lencioni outlines three factors that influence employee satisfaction. When people are happy at work, they do better work.

Being Known/Anonymity: When people know their coworkers, they are more fulfilled. People spend a lot of time at work, and they want to be known and appreciated by their manager and coworkers for who they are outside of work as well.

Relevance/Irrelevance: Who does your work matter to? If you are on the front line, your work matters to your customers. If you are a manager, your work matters to your employees. People need to know that their work matters to someone, even if it’s just their boss.

Measurement/Immeasurement: How do you measure your contribution and your progress? We are not talking about indirect measurements for the company, but measurements of individual contribution. People need to be able to gauge how they are doing each day.

Here is an infographic from Lencioni’s site on the three measures of job satisfaction.


Taking back my lunch

With all that there is to be done at work, I have been guilty a number of times of working straight through my lunch break, checking email in the morning during breakfast, or bringing home reports to read in the evening.

At times, I’ve even felt guilty for not doing these things, especially when I look around and seeing my boss and people who I respect working 12-, 16- and occasionally even 24-hour days. Don’t get me wrong, I do get a rush from these marathon sessions. There’s something exciting about being awake in a flourescent-lit room blasting music and working on deadline with a collaborator while the rest of my time zone sleeps. And I do understand that at certain times, a tight deadline can make the difference between impressing the donor or customer or having them pass you by.

Despite the feel-good effects of speed-working, more and more studies are showing that working long hours without periods of rest and renewal leads to a drastic decrease in productivity.

“Speed is the enemy of reflection, understanding and intentionality,” writes Tony Schwartz at the Energy Project, who is my new favorite writer on applying mindfulness techniques at work.

That is why I am joining the “Take Back Your Lunch” movement. For the rest of the month of March, I am going to resist the temptation to eat lunch at my desk or during a meeting and instead use that hour for a relaxed meal and a period of renewal and rest.

Here are some more tips for managers and the managed from Tony on how to increase productivity and get more by doing less.