Why Some People Hate Their Jobs

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick LencioniWhen Carl’s Jr started popping up in Texas, I couldn’t have been happier.  I had always wanted to try a burger from the California chain and being able to get a fast food burger at some place other than Burger King, McDonald’s, or Wendy’s was a welcome change.  After having to watch the restaurant remain closed for training every time I visited my old college town was torture.  Finally, after a few weeks of this pain, I finally got to experience my first Carl’s Jr. burger and it was everything I had hoped it would be.  My next experience was vastly different.

It all happened on a Sunday afternoon with my girlfriend as I was heading back home after visiting friends during the weekend.  The first visit it had been packed and it was equally packed on this day as well.  The line to order inside wasn’t long at all with an older gentleman, and a mother with her three boys in front of us. I started noticing a problem though once the mother was ordering.  Everyone can expect to receive rude customers at this type of place, so the employee should have expected this.  However that wasn’t the problem.  The employee handling this woman’s order appeared to have no clue where any buttons were on her register and was taking way to long to put in a simple order.  The woman appeared not to know the employee either which was amazing because she looked like she ate their every day.  Coupled with this problem was another employee who was sighing and moaning every few seconds as he watched this encounter take place, not offering any help in the process.

Our order didn’t take too long and soon we were waiting for our food along with the two other groups who were in front of us in line.  At this point I took a good look at the employees working at a feverish pace behind the counter trying to pump out orders.  I always try and make it a point to look for the manager in these situations, because I always like to see how the manager is interacting with his employees, if they are working alongside them, or simply watching the action.  In this case the manager was working alongside her employees by helping the drive-through line move quickly.  The other and more important observation that I made was that each and every single employee appeared to hate being there.  The manager looked on the verge of tears and her employees had looks ranging from “I don’t care anymore” to looks of heavy stress and defeat.  Like any problem, there is a cause. However, the cause is not what you might think.  Patrick Lencioni, acclaimed author of The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, wrote that often times a manager can make or break the way an employee feels about his or her work situation.  This was enormously true in this situation.

After twenty minutes of waiting, and a lot of complaining from the mother, we finally got our food.  The manager had seen me watching everything and motioned to me if I wanted ketchup or anything in our bag.  After loading up our bag with ketchup, ranch, and anything else imaginable, she handed us our bag and apologized for everything and said that six people hadn’t shown up for their shifts that morning.  I left thinking that her explanation made sense and  that the reasons the employees hated their jobs were due to low pay and stressful working conditions because of the missing employees. Lencioni , however, proposes different reasons as to why the employees appeared to hate their jobs.

Lencioni uses three signs that can show how miserable a job can be for someone:

Work cannot be fulfilling if people are forgotten and unknown

People need to matter to someone, they need to be able to make a difference

Employees need to be able to measure their success


In other words, if someone is ignored, forgotten, and cannot measure their success they will inevitably begin to hate their jobs. It explains why movie stars turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with their lives. The signs make perfect sense and are very easy to understand, but what is mind boggling is how many managers fail to implement strategies that prevent these three things from becoming problems. Instead we are faced with people everyday who would rather watch paint dry than go to

Every time I go I am told that it’s a great day there. What an awesome place it must be to work!

work. Think of it this way,  who likes Chick-fil-a?  Of course you do, I do too. Now, this may not be the case at every Chick-fil-a, but I’ve certainly experienced this at the ones I’ve been to, you’ve probably noticed that you are always treated wonderfully at Chick-fil-a. Every time I go I am told that it’s a great day there. What an awesome place it must be to work!  It’s clear if you go inside one and just watch the way they work for just a few minutes that the manager knows who his employees are (Anonymity), the employees know that they matter to him (Irrelevance), and they are able to measure (Immeasurement) how successful they are on a given day by simple measurements of how pleased their customers were, if there were any complaints, etc.  What’s clear is that if every manager took up Lencioni’s principles, then jobs would be much more fulfilling and enjoyable than they are today.

The “Creative Team” Myth

“What do you think” is killing creativity in the workplace.  There is nothing wrong with people helping each other spur creativity and development of an idea.  There are many corporations, however, who have killed individualism and have began relying heavily on the “team player” to establish a creative environment.  This only creates a voidness of creativity and kills innovation all together.  Hugh MacLeod, author of Ignore Everyone and acclaimed blogger,  says that “team players are not very good at creating value on their own.”  There is a large difference between the “team players” Macleod talks about in his book and individuals who uses teams to help themselves remain creative.  One kills businesses, the other produces creative thinking and innovation.

Teams are only effective when the individuals making up the teams are self-aware.   People who have “what do you think” attitude are useless and, in MacLeod’s opinion, “need a team in order to exist.”  Everyone is creative in their own way, and combining these forces makes a team strong.  However, when individualism is ignored, and companies stop championing creativity, failure is imminent.  MacLeod, who is also the popular force behind gapingvoid.com, says, “everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.” Everyone has the possibility to use their creative force

“Work hard. Keep at it. Live simply and quietly. Remain humble. Stay positive. Create your own luck. Be nice. Be polite.”

to produce success.  Corporations who squash creativity rely on innovation from teams of people who can’t think for themselves.

The results of creativity can be seen everywhere.  Efforts to produce the next big thing plague commercials, billboards, and ads anywhere there are people.  Knockoffs are also rampant with people looking to leech off of others just to make a dollar. People who are chasing success often skip the part on where they create the idea themselves. Ideas do not have to be the next best thing on the planet to yield success, they just have to be owned by the people trying to use them.  While MacLeod’s book does provide many tips on people, from employees to entrepreneurs, to stay creative the best tip would be his conclusion to this hilarious yet effective book, “Work hard. Keep at it. Live simply and quietly. Remain humble. Stay positive. Create your own luck. Be nice. Be polite.”

Any business that follows MacLeod’s advice will not only champion creativity, but create an environment where innovation can thrive.

Why Businesses Fail

Apolo Ohno - Zero RegretsApolo Anton Ohno dedicated many years of his life towards something that many people had never watched before the 2002 Winter Olympics.  He did it without fanfare and did not get paid for the thousands of hours he spent honing his craft of short track speed skating and pursuing his passion.  Many people recognize the name Apolo Anton Ohno from the 2002, 2006, and 2010 Winter Olympics and others from Dancing with the Stars.  I remember him mostly from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics from almost a decade ago.  I had never watched short track speed skating and really didn’t care that much about the sport in general but after watching Apolo become the star of the games I couldn’t wait until his next show, four long years later.

Many people considered him a for sure win for at least one medal in the next games while not even stopping to think how much dedication it took to accomplish such a feat.  They never doubted his ability to come back four years later and continue to dominate his sport the way he had in Salt Lake City.  Apolo exuded confidence while he was on the ice and it showed.  Apolo thought that winning, “means the display of winning qualities and a championship mind-set.”  Apolo’s book, Zero Regrets should be a required manual for anyone looking to be successful.  Looking at this definition at todays business world and its easy to see why so many people aren’t following their passion and why so many businesses fail, they don’t know how to win and they are terrified of failure.

The word passion seems to get thrown around everywhere.  Many of my business professors from back at Baylor warned me about what would happen if I didn’t pursue my passion for the sake of money and what might seem like a good job on paper. But as much as people love to talk about it, passion is far from corporate America.  Just go to any bookstore and look at the Bestsellers in the business section.  Many of them relate to people hating their jobs, bosses, and companies they work for. They may think they have found their passion in life, but they never gave it a shot.  Businesses fail because they begin marketing themselves as a completely different entity then what they set out to be. The end result is a customer base can see  through their phoniness.  Businesses fail because they don’t know what winning really means.

Business isn’t really that different from sports.  The big distinction is that athletes can accomplish great things without even thinking about whether or not their fans are satisfied in their performance and businesses must focus on how they can meet their customers needs.  Businesses today, however, are starting to behave more and more as if they are athletes and that their customers really don’t matter that much.  What if businesses pursued their goals and their customers needs as much as Apolo pursued his dreams?  Would there still be rampant unemployment today?  Businesses fail because they can’t see past their own doors.  They need to remember who they are serving and why.  Apolo was successful because he drove himself to following his passion and dreams.  Businesses can be successful if they do the same thing for their customers.

High-Fiving Your Brand

high fiveThe most popular story for how the modern “high five” originated is from the late 70’s when Dodgers player Glenn Burke raised his hand in celebration to greet Dodgers left-fielder Dusty Baker, and Baker not knowing what to do, slapped it. It may be strange to think about, but there has to be an origin for everything. Great marketing attempts to do the same thing to products as what Glenn Burke and Dusty Baker did to the high five.


The high five was never “invented” but merely discovered. While products do come and go, they are never successful unless they are able to be found. The same can be said for brands as well. Brands are built upon their ability to quickly get found by the masses. There is a rule to a brand’s success: great success comes with influencing great amounts of people. If you can’t get found, success cannot follow.

Branding is the science behind getting found by markets and it is necessary for any success anyone hopes to make in business. It is relevant from individuals to corporations and anything in between.


The high five would have taken off eventually. In fact, there are several stories that claim a different origin for the high five. A market won’t disappear unsatisfied, but will only diminish once it’s need has been met. Someone must meet this need, is it you? Either you or your competition can capitalize on the opportunities that are present.