Identifying and acknowledging short-term wins during periods of change is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, change initiatives often involve complex and long-term goals that can be challenging to measure progress against. By focusing on short-term wins, organizations can provide tangible evidence of progress and maintain momentum, which is essential for keeping employees engaged and motivated throughout the change process (Kotter & Cohen, 2002). Short-term wins also serve as a source of positive reinforcement. When employees see that their efforts produce visible results, it boosts their confidence and reinforces the belief that the change is worthwhile. This positive reinforcement encourages further engagement and commitment to the change effort (Abbas, 2023). Short-term wins should directly contribute to the larger objectives of the change initiative. They should demonstrate progress, create a visible impact, and instill confidence in the organization’s ability to achieve its long-term goals.
Change can be overwhelming, and employees may feel uncertain or resistant to new ways of doing things. Organizations can boost morale and motivate employees by highlighting and celebrating short-term wins. Recognizing their efforts and accomplishments instills a sense of pride, satisfaction, and confidence in their ability to adapt to the changes and achieve the larger goals (Abbas, 2023). Short-term wins also provide tangible evidence of progress. They show that the change is having a positive impact and moving the organization forward. Acknowledging these wins helps build momentum and maintains the energy and enthusiasm needed to sustain the change effort over time (Kotter & Cohen, 2002). It reinforces the idea that the organization is on the right track and encourages continued commitment and engagement. Furthermore, celebrating short-term wins helps to build a culture of success and fosters a sense of accomplishment among employees. Acknowledging and appreciating the achievements of individuals and teams contributes to a positive work environment where employees feel valued and recognized for their contributions (Abbas, 2023). This, in turn, enhances morale, team cohesion, and overall job satisfaction.
Abbas, T. (2023). Short-term wins in change management. CMI. https://changemanagementinsight.com/short-term-wins-in-change-management/
Kotter, J. & Cohen, D.S. (2002). The heart of change: Real-life stories of how people change their organizations. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press.
Change initiatives are very challenging for leaders, stakeholders, and teams. There are many steps to any change process and each needs to be acknowledged and reviewed to make sure that change is successful. Leaders must proactively recognize the need for short-term wins and establish those wins up front (Kotter, 1995). Short-term wins are important to fuel ongoing energy in a change process for the team. It shows the team that you are making progress and that all of the work that they are doing is for a purpose. It helps to create motivation and build support and credibility for the change. Haas et al, 2020, used Kotter’s 8-Step Model for their change of didactics in the residency program and their short-term wins were to show the residents the difference in their success between the old model and the new model. It is important for leaders to choose wins that will be the most impactful for the team. For the residents, it was showing them that they were more successful with the new model. For some teams that would be increased sales, better customer satisfaction, or improved productivity. The win needs to be something that leads the team to continue with the change initiative and build credibility and motivation. If the wins do not point the team toward the change process in a positive light they will not likely be motivated to continue with the process.
Haas, M. R. C., Munzer, B. W., Santen, S. A., Hopson, L. R., Haas, N. L., Overbeek, D., Peterson, W. J., Cranford, J. A., & Huang, R. D. (2020). #DidacticsRevolution: Applying Kotter’s 8-Step Change Management Model to Residency Didactics. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine: Integrating Emergency Care with Population Health, 21(1), 65–70.
Kotter, J. P. (1995). Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from