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The Three Signs of a Miserable Job

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The Three Signs of a Miserable Job

A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees)


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

To keep employees, treat them humanely, show that their work matters, and supply metrics they can use to track their goals.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Business books take many forms, but seldom are they fables. Patrick Lencioni breaks the mold with this charming book about a manager who turns his workers’ miserable jobs into fulfilling ones. He presents the fictional story of Brian Bailey, a big-hearted CEO who gets bought out, finds retirement dull and tries managing a seedy pizza parlor where the employees hate their jobs. Bailey quickly changes everything by the way he treats the shop’s people. Later he works his magic as the new CEO of a failing retail sporting-goods company with a ruinously high turnover rate, where his humane techniques turn things around again. Lencioni’s book is fun to read; its fable is touching yet credible. He reinforces important lessons all managers should know about getting the best from the people who work for them by providing empathy and recognizing the meaning of their work. If you are up for a parable, getAbstract recommends this engaging book. It spotlights a clear axiom: Treat people humanely and they will do as you wish – a valuable lesson for any manager or, indeed, anyone at all.


The Fable

Brian Bailey never had enough money to attend a full four years of college. Instead, he went to work in a San Francisco factory that manufactured automobiles. He married young. He and his wife Leslie had three children. Bailey was a smart, hard worker. The car company’s COO made him the plant manager when he turned 35. She liked him, his work ethic and his desire to get ahead. Later, she recommended Bailey for a CEO position at a nearby exercise equipment manufacturer. He got the job. Board members liked his friendly demeanor and his ability to communicate. In 17 years at the firm, he moved it to the top of its field and made it a great place to work. Employee satisfaction ratings were the highest in the industry. Then one day a larger company bought the firm. As is typical, CEO Bailey was asked to leave. With the kids grown, Brian and Leslie retired on his buy-out money, and moved to Lake Tahoe, Nevada, a wonderful retirement site. Yet Bailey quickly got bored. He loved being a CEO, managing people and events. He wanted a new challenge. He soon got one, but nothing that he had ever expected.

The Pizza Parlor

It all started when Brian and Leslie ...

About the Author

Patrick Lencioni is the author of numerous business books, including the bestselling The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Lencioni is the founder and president of a business-consulting firm that helps organizations function efficiently through superior leadership.

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