Every person who comes into your organization will have an adjustment period and a learning curve. Some will be longer and steeper than others. But no matter what the trajectory is, your new hire’s success will depend on your immediate ability to build confidence and create momentum.

Confidence and momentum are natural byproducts of winning, and winning comes more easily to those with confidence and momentum. You need only look as far as your favorite sports team to see this concept in action. Winning streaks and losing streaks are all too common and are great examples of how confidence and momentum directly affect performance.

Onboarding is the time to cultivate an environment of progress and inspire future successes by helping new employees achieve some wins early on.

Some things to consider during the confidence/momentum-building phase:


With everything you want to accomplish, it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating endless To Do lists for yourself and your new hire. While this might look like an efficient way to organize tasks, it could actually work against you. The longer the list is, the more intimidating (and sometimes paralyzing) it becomes.

Think of effective onboarding like a marathon, not a sprint, and pace yourself appropriately. Instead of trying to race through an endless, overwhelming list, focus on two to four of the most critical wins to be secured each week. Once you’ve accomplished these early wins (and celebrated!), move on to the next few.


An essential part of focus, clarity helps ensure that you are properly identifying what constitutes a critical win.

It may be tempting to complete all of the easiest things on the list and allow the joy of checking things off fool you into thinking you’re making significant progress. But if you want to create real confidence and momentum, you have to go deeper.

Pick something you know will be a bit of a challenge, and set a goal to accomplish it early on. The learning curve will be higher here, but so will the ROI.

When evaluating which specific things to focus on, ask yourself:

  • Will this build momentum?
  • Is it a critical part of the job?
  • Is it important to leadership?
  • Is it helpful to other team members?
  • Will it lead to more and bigger wins?


If a win requires you to behave in a way that will be seen as negative, it isn’t really a win. In fact, your early win may be something as “simple” as establishing new and positive behaviors.

It’s a given that your new hire’s ability to achieve long-term success is dependent on having consistent, daily behaviors that are in line with company culture, strategy and goals.

Behaviors become habits and habits drive results.

Successfully adapting even one new behavior will help build confidence and create momentum.


Be clear about your new employee’s long-term goals and short-term focus. Let them know what they are expected to do, why it’s important, and how it fits into the company vision. Tie activities and behaviors together around these goals and expectations, and set up a system for monitoring progress.

Be consistent from the get-go. If you let things slide in the beginning, that will be the primary expectation moving forward. Conversely, if you create a culture of transparency, accountability and ownership, your new hires will feel free to take their initiative and run with it.

Remember: Nothing leads to success like success itself.

Taking the time to define what that success looks like and celebrate when it happens will give your team the confidence and momentum to take on ever increasing challenges. Not only will you become a more effective trainer and mentor, you’ll have peace of mind knowing everyone’s on the same page. You’ll also have yourself a happy and successful new hire. Talk about ROI.


This is the fifth post in a series of blogs about how to effectively onboard new employees. For more information on this topic, read How to Effectively Onboard New Employees, 6 Ways to Accelerate Learning, Tips for Transition, and Define Success. Subscribe to this blog to receive new HR-related posts each week.

Photo by AxxLC

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