We all want to win big. We want to create a success story — something that crosses boundaries, gathers speed and lasts a lifetime. But a success story can’t be formed in one go; it needs to be written line by line and chapter by chapter.
You can use quick wins to write your success story in a way that connects your employees to their own progress within your company. In fact, recent research has found that when people see incremental progress in their work (and celebrate those small successes), they’re more productive, engaged and creative.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Before winning the Nobel Prize in 1962, Francis Crick and James Watson were just two scientists trying to build a DNA structure. But along the way, they found their daily attitudes influenced by the amount of progress they’d made. This phenomenon — which researchers later deemed the “progress principle” — asserts that “making progress in meaningful work” potentially increases motivation more than any other factor.
By leveraging the progress principle, you can help your employees feel connected to the larger success of your company, which, in turn, will encourage them to work harder and be more personally invested. But how can you bring a culture of quick winning into your company? Here are five things you should be doing:
1. Lead with transparency.
It’s your responsibility as a leader to make sure the “hows” and “whys” of each quick win are communicated and understood. People may be dubious of change, especially when it involves a newfound love of performance metrics. They may feel their their every move is being tracked and judged.
So, show your team how the changes you’re making circle back to efficiency and profitability. Make sure you fully explain each new metric as you introduce it, and above all, prove that the “quick win” process works before you start expanding it.
2. Test quick-winning within one department.
Test out the process of measuring and celebrating quick wins by starting with one department within your organization. Start with your financial team or your marketing team, for example. This will let you set up your dashboards and get into a rhythm in a controlled environment. Then, you can observe how the small victories within that department contribute to larger wins over time.
3. Identify your agents of change.
You shouldn’t be leading this powerful “quick win” machine by yourself. Rather, appoint a collaborative team of quick winners to work behind you. Identify teammates who get excited about change and are eager to improve company processes. They’ll become your best ambassadors — special agents you can trust to use the first few trial wins to build a “quick winning” culture.
4. Create layered projects.
Establishing a “quick win” culture in your team is possible only if you can set up your projects with multiple levels of wins. Each business goal you lay out needs to be comprised of layers so your employees can easily see their incremental progress.
Make each layer visible by employing analytics dashboards and data-visualization tools. And communicate each quantifiable progression to your whole team so you’re building a healthy sense of competition and collaboration as you go.
5. Use quick wins to tell a story.
Giving your teammates the chance to pause and celebrate after small victories allows them to start building a narrative toward their goals. This recognition can create momentum and meaning, which will create not only the internal story that will propel your team forward, but also the story that you will tell the world.
Use “quick win” milestones to build your company’s story. Host celebrations, and record the evidence. Perhaps you can hire a photo booth as HubSpot did to celebrate its brand journey at its annual INBOUND conference.
Remember: Success stories are made in small increments. Start telling yours by introducing a “quick win” culture to revamp the way your team works and enact positive change in your entire organization.