|Patrick Lencioni may be a world-renowned speaker, author and consultant on topics of leadership and executive-team development, but that is not what he initially set out to do professionally. He had other aspirations, like becoming a star player in the NBA. "It’s too bad I’m only [5-foot-9]," he says. Fortunately for Lencioni, he’s making a living pursuing another one of his passions: helping companies succeed through strong leadership and teamwork.
Before starting his own consulting firm, the Table Group, Lencioni worked for almost 20 years in corporate America. Those experiences taught him a lot about the workplace: how people learn, develop and, sometimes, fail at their jobs. In his most recent book, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, released in late 2007, Lencioni imparts valuable lessons to help managers make the workplace more fulfilling and rewarding for employees.
Lencioni says the steps in his book are easy to implement and require little monetary investment. The goal is straightforward: rooting out those three primary causes of a miserable job.
The first sign of misery is anonymity, he says. It signals that a manager does not take interest in the personal life of a worker, and that can create a cold and aloof environment. "Take the time to talk to them and ask them about their passions and interests outside of work," he notes. "It will make them feel good and create a stronger bond with you and the company." Managers need to do this with employees at every level of the company.
Irrelevance is another misery-maker at work. There’s trouble for everyone if employees can’t make the connection between their day-to-day tasks and how they help shape the world around them.
"People need to know that what they are doing is more than just a job," Lencioni says. "They want to know that they are part of something bigger."
It is up to a manager to help employees draw this correlation, although that’s a task that is sometimes easier said than done.
"Not everybody is a priest, a nurse or is finding a cure for cancer," he says.
Nonetheless, it is essential for managers to help them find meaning in what they do. In the case of a personal assistant, for instance, a manager can say something like: "Your work makes a difference in my life. You make things easy for me so that I can perform my duties and, together, we are contributing to the success of this company."
The third sign of a miserable job is lack of measurement, which leaves a worker with no idea of whether he is doing a good or a poor job.
"An employee is bound to grow weary if he doesn’t know where he stands," Lencioni says.
Managers need to go beyond offering periodic performance assessments; feedback should be continuous. An employee’s success does not necessarily need to be linked to the financial performance of a company, Lencioni explains.
"Sometimes counting how many customers a worker made smile is more important than whether the stock price of a company went up or down on a given day," he says.