Life’s Too Short to Hate your Job

Today and tomorrow, I am attending an amazing (satellite) conference called The Global Leadership Summit, hosted by the Willow Creek Association. This is my fourth time attending and personally, I believe the conference gets better each year. Today, for example, I was able to hear the tried and true wisdom of General Colin Powell, Bill Hybels, Bob Goff, and Mark Burnett–to name a few. However, my favorite speaker is and shall remain Patrick Lencioni.

If you don’t know about Mr. Lencioni, he is the founder and president of The Table Group, as well as a best-selling author of business/leadership books. Earlier this year, I finished his amazing book The Advantage, which is about what it takes to build and run a healthy organization. And health is just the beginning of a great organization. In this post, I’d specifically like to share what Lencioni spoke about at this year’s conference.

You see…healthy organizations go deeper than the operations of any company and the satisfaction of any customer. Yes, the leader shapes and drives a business culture, but the employees are at the heart of the cause. They help sustain the vision. And sadly, many Americans and other people around the world today are disengaged in their work, don’t know what the vision of their company is, and would describe their job as mundane or perhaps miserable. Too often leaders are not engaging with their employees, and on a larger scale, many companies are not engaging with their followers/customers. It’s a disease in business that needs to be wiped out.

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Job misery is exactly what Lencioni spoke about. He said there are three things that cause job misery: Anonymity, Irrelevance, and a term he made up–“Immeasurement“.

As he stated about anonymity, “No one likes to be anonymous”, especially employees. Perhaps you may feel that way about your job–or maybe, as a manager, you have yet to take interest in your employees. Sure, we all need to pay our bills and make rent, but wouldn’t it be much more pleasant to make your paycheck while enjoying the work? Wouldn’t it be nice to work at a place that cares about your well being just as much as your productivity?

So his takeaway from avoiding anonymity: “Take interest in your employees [or even your followers] and [remember] good people don’t leave jobs where they’re known.”

In regards to irrelevance: A good leader will “help people figure out what their relevance is.” People need to know that they matter–that what they do matters.

The takeaway from this lesson: “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.”

Finally, “immeasurement“: “People need feedback.” As a manager, do you allow your employees to assess themselves? Do you give them tools that empower them and help them become better? Are you helping them see both the quantitative AND qualitative results? As an employee, how do you measure that you’re doing a good job?

Takeaway: “Money is a satisfier.” Money, as I stated before, plays a role in our jobs, but it’s not enough to make us completely fulfilled. How, then, can you measure your success and satisfaction in your vocation? Being known, having reason and purpose in your work, and being able to measure appropriate results, are all driving factors for job satisfaction.

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I recently read an article from Gallup Business Journal about job disengagement. The argument was that disengagement in one’s job is worse than having no job. They did a study on Germans, who still uphold their impeccable and historical work ethic, and found that though 7 out of 10 Germans would still work even if they didn’t have to, most Germans would rather be without a job than work for a horrible manager. Click HERE to read the full article. They would rather turn away from their inherent culture of working hard–no matter what–and be happily jobless than hopeless in employment. I don’t know about you, but that speaks VOLUMES to me.

Another article I read from The Gallup Blog about “10 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience” lists items that are centered around employees first. Click HERE to read. 10 out of 10 (!) suggestions for improving the customer experience are ALL focused on the employees BEFORE looking outward to clientele and the general masses. That says something. Gallup gets it, just like Patrick Lencioni does: If you have happily engaged employees who know what they’re doing and feel good about it, your business is going to thrive, your customers will be happy and likely to recommend you, and you’ll become a better leader. Not a micro-manager, not a dictator, and not some idiot boss.

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So here’s my challenge to both sides of the coin: Leaders, are you helping your employees and/or subordinates engage in their work–in the organization? And employees, are you happy with where you’re at–do you enjoy going in to work every day? Do you know what you’re doing, what’s expected of you? Do you feel valued?

As leaders, it’s our job to not waste time by having unhappy, unproductive employees. And we need to take responsibility for job engagement trickling downward into our organization. Employees learn from us–from our example. Are we engaged in the work? Are we happy? Are we able to measure success and help our people do the same?

As employees, it’s our job to help further the vision and growth of our company. And if we just can’t picture ourselves doing that, or we dread the work, our boss, our peers…why stay? Why live with a miserable job, day in and day out? Is there something that you feel compelled to do, to lead, to begin, to change?

Let me put it this way: What if you woke up tomorrow and found out you only had 30 days left to live? Would you change the life you’re now living–would you continue to go in to work–or would you do something else?

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That very question is something I’ve been asking myself lately–not just about my job, but about everything in general. What would I change if I knew my final days were upon me? I know it can be overwhelming, but like the title of this post states: Life is too short to hate [insert applicable phrase here]. So as we seek to become better leaders, workers, spouses, friends, parents, sisters, brothers, etc., may we be bold enough to have the courage to leap into something greater, if that’s where we are being pushed.

In my next post, I have some exciting news, so stay tuned!

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