5 Reasons why hard work doesn’t always pay off

Nov 9, 2019

We all work hard to improve ourselves, our teams and our Organisations so why don’t we always get the rewards that we deserve for our efforts?


Over half a million businesses have to sadly shut their doors every year. We hear stories of how they didn’t adapt or change to make things work for them. I’m sure this is the case with some of the these – delivering something no-one wants even in the very best of ways is doomed to failure. I would like to bet however that the vast majority of these unsuccessful ventures were trying extremely hard to improve, and had been for considerable time, before they eventually collapsed.

So how do organisations that put so much time into improvement fail in their efforts? Or if they do get initial results, why are they not consistently effective?

Below is a summary of the top 5 reasons from a recent session I had with a diverse group of successful business leaders.


  1. Lack of a widely understood target
    • People and groups aiming at what they believe is important
  1. There is no consistent method for resolving problems
    • Effects of problems are addressed without resolving issues to eliminate recurrence
  1. Problems are solved by the Leaders
    • The importance of encouraging ownership and collaboration amongst members is not appreciated
  1. Standards and methods are not adhered to
    • Decisions, plans and results are not documented and acted on
  1. Successful thinking and activity is not promoted
    • Often a personal effort – The Organisation as a whole is not learning


We concluded that sustained Improvement is not perceptive and is certainly not just about the end result.

Improvement is measurable and so installing metrics and targets in the correct places is the first step.

Second, the method in which we drive towards our targets is just as important as hitting them.

We all work extremely hard to improve our organisations, teams and ourselves – it would be a shame if we didn’t see a return for our efforts.