How a “Quick Win” Helps a New Starter Settle In

October 28, 2016
Motivate New Starters

You want your new starters to settle into their roles as quickly as possible, and there are lots of ways to do this. In an earlier blog post, we outlined five easy ways to help your new starters settle in. These are:

– Take a “Road Test” Before You Hire

– Provide a Task List

– Buddy Them Up

– Create a “Quick Win”

– Show Appreciation

Today, I want to look in a bit more detail at how a “quick win” can help your new starters settle in faster.

What is a “Quick Win”?

Creating a “quick win” is all about setting a simple, achievable task for each new hire. The task should be realistically achievable for them on their first day or couple of days, and should not require much on-the-job experience.

The “quick win” you create should provide your new starter with a challenging but achievable positive outcome that is directly related to their new job role.

Naturally, you shouldn’t tell your new hire that the project you’ve given them is a “quick win” project – this will pretty much ruin its effectiveness!

How a “Quick Win” Works Psychologically

The idea behind a “quick win” is to help reinforce a positive mental attitude that will help your new starter to go ahead and achieve even more challenging “wins” throughout their career.

Does it work? Well, in my experience, it certainly helps motivate the new starter, and gives them the mental fire they need to tackle future projects. It seems that this technique has some scientific support behind it, too. published an article in 2011 called “The Power of Small Wins”. It is a very interesting read, and can teach you a lot about motivating your employees. For example, take a look at the following two points:

– Progress occurs on 76% of people’s “best-mood days”, whereas setbacks occur on only 13% of people’s “best-mood days”

– Setbacks occur on 67% of people’s “worst-mood days”, whereas progress occurs on only 25% of people’s “worst-mood days”

It is tough to pull a decisive conclusion of cause and effect from these two statements – are people making progress because they are “winning”? Or are they “winning” because they are making progress? Either way, it shows a very strong correlation between “winning” and great moods.

Another correlation observed in the article, is that on days when people make progress, they are more intrinsically motivated. Again, the reverse is true in that on the days when people have setbacks, they are intrinsically less motivated.

Although it is difficult to establish whether progress causes happiness or happiness causes progress, perhaps the following story can lend weight to the argument that “winning” is what inspires hard work and motivation.

The Double Helix – How “Winning” Encouraged Scientists to Finish Important DNA Research

In James Watson’s 1969 memoir, “The Double Helix”, he explains that during the discovery of DNA, he and his partner Francis Crick had quite an emotional time full of progress and setbacks. In fact, after building their first iteration of the DNA model, they noticed a number of serious flaws which took a lot of the joy out of their research. Eventually, after thinking they had cracked it, they excitedly showed their work to their colleagues, only to have further flaws pointed out, throwing even more doubt and misery onto their dropping motivation levels.

Once they actually did work out the answer, Watson writes “my morale skyrocketed”. In fact, both Watson and Crick were so motivated by solving the puzzle, they went almost as far as living in the lab while they happily finished the bigger picture of their work.

This is an example of how having a small win – not the final end goal – helped a team to go on and accomplish huge things.

Do you think that giving your new starters a task you know they can accomplish early on is a good way to kick-start your employer-employee relationship?

Stay ahead with HR

Get free HR insights, expert tips and exclusive interviews, and start making more impact at work

Please enter a valid email address

See People HR in action

View our short video demo

Get started absolutely free

No credit card required

Talk with an expert to learn how People HR could help your organisation