Monday, December 14

The THREE SIGNS of a Miserable Job

I love good books on leadership... especially practical leadership books. The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni was a really good practical leadership book... and it should be required reading for all members of any business. I think if both employers and employees take to heart the message of this book, we would have much better corporations, churches, schools... you name it.

First, Lencioni is an absolute master at writing parables based on the principles that he's aiming to put forth. People love stories, and if you can center what you're trying to teach around a story, you'll always have alot of ears.

Lencioni's story is about a man who's been very successful as CEO of a thriving company... he retires, relocates with his wife to a skiing town... but discovers there a small, local Italian restaurant that he feels is operating way below what it should. So, he challenges himself to step in and see if he can help turn things around. Whether he does or not, I'll let you find out for yourself... but his goal is to instill into the culture of this restaurant some things that has helped him in his business endeavors, wherever he's been. Brian (our CEO) believes that if you can eliminate 3 things within the culture of a organization, then business will boom:

1. ANONYMITY - no one wants to be anonymous at their place of employment. Brian argues, and tries to show within his companies, that the more employees are known at the job, the better employees they'll be. Conversely, if an employee constantly is coming to a place where he works for someone who doesn't know him (and doesn't act like he/she cares much for him), that employee won't put forth his best effort on a regular basis. Everyone longs to be known... even at work. An employer must initiate this, and get to know his employees: find out what matters to them and what they're passionate about, about their families, their schooling, etc. An employee will work his/her best when they know their employer cares for them beyond the job.

2. IRRELEVANCE - everyone longs for significance, even at their job. Employees need to know that what they do matters... and they need to know to whom it matters: their customers, fellow employees, managers, etc. And who's responsibility is it to see that this happens? This is their employer's responsibility. If, as an employer, I think my employees should be able to motivate themselves to produce great work, simply because I give them a paycheck... I am sadly mistaken. It is my responsibility to make sure that every employee understands his/her significance to the organization... no matter what their role.

3. IMMEASUREMENT - all employees need measurement for what they're doing... a way to know that what they are doing day in and day out is on track with what their manager's expectations are. What goals are set for them? What production standards are being held for them? Too many companies expect "continual volume", with no rhyme or reason for their employees... but when there is no clear means of assessing progress on a job, it only breeds frustration. Again... this is the employer's responsibility. A manager cannot leave it to his employees to figure out how to measure their progress. The measurement should be concrete, and it should be agreed upon. That way, everyone is on the same page... and there are no surprises if the goals are not attained: both manager and employee can figure out ways to get where they need to be.

Lencioni argues that the result of eliminating these three negative factors will lead to job fulfillment for the employee, as well as increased productivity, greater retention (of employees)/lower costs, and a sustainable cultural differentiation (creating a culture that is unique from your competitors).

Again, great book... a must-read for all employers and employees alike, no matter what the organization!

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