Which of Your Employees Have a Miserable Job?

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni

One of my favorite books, is Three Signs of a Miserable Job, by Patrick Lencioni.

Have you read this book yet? Every CEO should make it required reading for their management team.

Here’s an excellent YouTube Video with Lencioni talking about the book:

Here’s my homework assignment for you: Take an excel spreadsheet, list every employee in your company, and categorize them into one of the three main categories for a miserable job that Lencioni refers to in his book.

  • Anonymity: People need to be understood and appreciated by someone in a position of authority
  • Irrelevance: Everyone needs to know their job matters to someone
  • Immeasurement: Employees need to be able to gauge their progress and level of contribution for themselves

That’s the easy part, the next part is then put action plans together to overcome these miserable elements of jobs in your company. Are you to this challenge?

You might say to me:

‘I don’t have a need to go through this with my employees. Our productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness is good enough. We don’t have to go through this time-consuming, painful process, to figure out what’s wrong with our jobs. If any of our employees don’t like their jobs, their welcome not to let the door hit them on the way out.


Should Employees Be Engaged and Satisfied?

I’m curious how many CEOs really believe that statement. Oh, no one raised their hands. Here’s the irony: The vast majority of CEOs don’t perceive a problem. Then why are the vast majority of your employees turned off, dissatisfied, disengaged, and are ready to look for a new job? Almost every study over the last few years indicates employee satisfaction has dropped to historical lows compared to the Great Depression.

What’s the risk of having employees feel like their job is miserable? What’s the risk of having disengaged, unhappy, dissatisfied, unmotivated employees?

The risk is a tolerance for “it’s not my job”, errors, customer dissatisfaction, turnover, poor performance and execution, below industry average levels of productivity, and a dysfunctional culture that permeates every element of your business. Wow – I depressed myself just making that list.


Create An Engaged Workforce of Happy Employees

When should you start to care about how your employees feel about their jobs? Should it be when you want to grow your business by $250,000 next year, or $22 million over the next 3 years?

If your approach to business is “it’s good enough”, then take no action.

If your approach to business is along the thoughts of Jim Collins in Good to Great, I challenge you that this could be one of the greatest areas for operational performance in your business over the next few years.

What are your thoughts? What’s your experience in implementing actions to overcome the 3 primary elements of a miserable job?

Barry Deutsch

PS – Take our FREE Culture Survey to get a quick grasp on how your employees might perceive your company and whether there is a risk of them being miserable. Click here to download the Culture Survey. This was one of the key chapters in our award-winning and best-selling book, titled “You're NOT the Person I Hired.”

If you would like to discover how to hire and retain top talent, we've made You're NOT the Person I Hired, available for FREE in an electronic version. To download your free copy of the book You're NOT the Person I Hired, click this link, or click the button below:

Download our FREE e-book - You're NOT the Person I Hired


Recruiters Don’t Steal People, Managers Lose People

So often recruiters are accused of  “stealing your best employee.”  While it is true that we do present opportunities to your employees, the fact is, we don't steal them. To the amazement of most recruiters, the vast majority of the time the employee already has a resume prepared and ready to go.

All we do is ask them if they would be open to discussing a potential career opportunity. Virtually 95% of the time the employee replies, “Yes.” Why would anyone not want to know what is going on in the market, have a discussion around their career or just get a feel for current compensation ranges? Even if they are completely happy in their current position, this is good stuff to know.

The important, and I believe the most relevant question is,” Why, out of the 95% that are open to discussing career opportunities, do roughly 10% indicate that they are happy with their job, and although it sounds like a good opportunity, they aren’t interested in pursuing it further?”

What do these 10% have that the other 90% don’t? That is something a recruiter has nothing to do with. They generally have four things, 1) they are learning in their current position, 2) they feel they are having some impact on the company, 3) they are growing, and 4) they respect their boss. When these four things are part of a person's job, the best recruiter can’t get them to move.

An example of this recently happened. I was jointly interviewing candidates with one of my clients.  At dinner one night, my client started asking me about the job market, “Is it picking up?” and  “Are any particular industries hiring?”  He mentioned that he thought the market was getting better because in the last couple of months he had been contacted a couple of times by recruiters for potential opportunities.  Like most, he listened to what they had to say, but in both instances he thanked the recruiter for the call and flatly turn them down.

Why, I asked?

Like most, his answer had nothing to do with compensation. He commented, “I enjoy what I’m doing. I have a great boss and most of all I’m challenged.” Then he added, “When I stop being challenged it is time to move on.” In fact, prior to being promoted to his current position he was looking. If his current position had not come open he would have left the company.

As he explained it, “My last boss treated me like a step child (I used step child. His word did start with an S). The position had lost its challenges, the job was the job, and that was all there was to it.” His boss was rarely around to support him and he was doing the same thing this year as he had done the last three years. Boredom and lack of respect for his boss had set in. The good news was that he worked for an excellent company. BTW, he has been with this company for 12  years and in his current position for 4 years.

This is a classic example of how one employee went from engaging recruiters to telling them, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

We realize that not every company has the ability to promote someone or move them to another position in order to retain them. However, that doesn't mean there aren't a number of things a company can do to help their best talent feel challenged, feel that they are learning, and be respected by their boss. This can happen in just about any sized company.

The best recruiter couldn't “steal” this person.  It all had to do with the job and the person's boss.  The vast majority of people leave because they lose respect for their boss.  The best selling book, First Break All The Rules, validates this. This book should be required reading for all managers, regardless of how many years they've been a manager. As recruiters for the last 30 years, my partner Barry Deutsch and I, can also validate this is clearly the number one reason candidates tell us they are open to talking about a new position.

To help companies and hiring managers identify some of the things that managers can do to retain their best talent we have put together for you to download our 8 Level Retention Matrix. This matrix will help you identify whether or not your managers are doing what it takes to retain your best talent.

If your managers do some, or most of these, you won't lose your talent to a recruiter. Your competition will.

You can also download for free our most popular chapter on sourcing top talent from our best-selling book, You're NOT The Person I Hired. CLICK HERE to download your free chapter.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Productivity. . . How far do we push?

A long time ago, before many executives reading this blog were born, I was in my first position after graduating from Engineering School. I was working in the aerospace industry on a military program. About three years into the project, things started heating up. We were “asked” (required really) to work six days a week to meet the contract obligations.

The company was very fair about this, paying time-and-a-half for the overtime hours even though we were salaried employees. And, in my opinion, they did not get anywhere near what they were paying for. After about three months of continuous overtime, I noticed that I and my colleagues were all putting off a bunch of stuff for “Saturday when it is quiet.” I don’t have hard data, but I’m pretty sure it’s accurate to say that it is likely that in the beginning, 48 hours of work was done in the 48 hours. But then it dropped to perhaps 40 hours of work done in 48 hours. I’m convinced that by the end of the twelve months of overtime, about 35 hours of work was being done in the 48 hours (even though we were being paid for 52 hours when you consider the time-and-a-half). This happened in a professional, white-collar workforce, not a unionized production line. While some of us enjoyed the extra pay, most of us would have rather had our weekends, so we did not intentionally slow down. We were simply burned out – not enough down time.

Today, in many companies, we are not asking or paying for overtime. However, we have asked those employees still with us to pick up the slack for those we’ve had to furlough, layoff, or force into early retirement. This has resulted in a steep increase in national productivity statistics. Many people seem to think that’s really great. I don’t.

While our employees may only be asked to work the standard 40 hours, they are either putting in extra time on their own to keep up with the load, or they are at the very least working quickly with little thought to quality or priorities. They just want to get the job done. The result, predictably, will be the same as it was in the ancient times when I was in aerospace. Burnout is bound to happen and productivity will take a dive – unless we, as forward thinking leaders, move to improve things.

There are many ways to make things a bit better. My favorite is to insist that people stop doing things – help them figure out what tasks they can safely let go without jeopardizing quality of products and services delivered to customers. Another might be to take this opportunity to move to a 4 day 40 hour work week. This is very attractive to many employees since it gives them a three day weekend. I know all the excuses for not doing this, but in general, they are simply excuses for not going through a change. We can make greater use of telecommuting so that folks can take small breaks between tasks. Another way is to begin hiring in part time folks to lessen the load (make sure you understand your state's labor laws with respect to part time and independent consultants before moving forward with this). When things pick up, and the recovery is assured for you and your business, then you can increase the hours up to full employment.

It is best to address this challenge now rather than wait for your team to start burning out (if that hasn’t already begun). So what are your ideas? How can you make sure you avoid the difficult problem of rebuilding productivity after burnout?

You can download a free chapter on sourcing top talent from the best selling book, You're NOT The Person I Hired, by CLICKING HERE.

About the author

Dave Kinnear is a sought after Business Advisor and Mentor.  He works with highly successful executives through one-to-one mentoring and coaching meetings. Individuals who are presently running successful businesses and executives in transition work with Dave to ensure meeting corporate and/or career goals. Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates Advisory Boards comprising Business Owners, Company Presidents and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.