It’s halfway through the year, and most organizations have kicked off their mid-year performance reviews. More calendar blocks, meetings, and furiously trying to recollect everything we did in the last six months…
But whether your organization carries out formal reviews annually or offers ongoing feedback informally, this is a great time for managers to check in with their teams, recharge, regroup, and re-align for the second half of the year.
"It never hurts to remind managers and employees that midyear is a good time to discuss their goals, performance, and development" – Blakeley Hartfelder, Gartner.
This is an excellent opportunity to sit down with your team formally and:
- review accomplishments and progress against goals
- review goals themselves to see if they're still relevant
- check-in on the general mental state of your team and how they are doing in their roles
- seek upward feedback on what is/isn't working and what support or resources they need to deliver on expectations
- discuss development opportunities above and beyond the day-to-day role
And not just that, after 2 years of pandemic and a decade after a massive growth market, 2022 has seen slowdowns, market corrections and a global recession impacting most businesses worldwide.
How big a deal is that? It’s insane!
The start of 2022 looked nothing like where we are now as we wade into Q4. With the great resignation, economic downturn and hiring freezes, individual employee productivity and growth has never been more crucial. And that’s why it’s essential for every organization to proactively conduct check ins and review meetings before things go south.
But HOW managers approach mid-year review meetings can make or break everything. Just going through the motions and 'winging it' is not enough to ensure people are on track and receiving the proper feedback and support they need to succeed. Here’s everything you need to know about mid-year reviews—the what, how & why?.
What is a mid-year review?
Mid-year reviews are performance evaluations that occur halfway through a team's year. They provide an opportunity for managers to give feedback on their team's progress against their goals and objectives and identify areas of improvement.
Why are mid-year performance reviews important?
For a successful mid-year review, you need to know your "why". Conducting effective mid-year performance reviews helps to ensure that your team members are on track to meet their goals and identify any areas where they may need additional support. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for managers to give feedback that can help inspire and motivate their team.
Some more reasons why they are beneficial:
Mid-year performance reviews:
- Ensure your team is happy and improves the company culture
- It keeps everyone on the same page
- Communicate goals, expectations, roles, and responsibilities
- Create an action plan
- Take constructive feedback
- Discuss potential roadblocks
- Course correct any undesired behaviors
- Foster team dynamics and positive relationships
- Discuss career trajectory
If you aren't sold on the reasons we've provided you with, here is a survey conducted by HR.com that included participants representing a broad range of people from small businesses of 50+ employees to enterprises with over 20k+ employees; when asked about their organization's objective for conducting performance reviews, these were their responses:
Source: hr.research institute, the state of performance management 2021
Although some respondents/organizations say that one of the objectives of performance reviews is to force a conversation about poor performance; over 60% of them believe that performance reviews:
- Help organizations improve overall performance
- Help individuals learn and grow
- Boost communications between managers and employees
- Aid in aligning to organizational goals and values
- Facilitate performance appraisals
That's amazing isn't it? In fact, every organization must strive to make performance reviews more fair and holistic.
How should your mid-year review be different from the annual review?
The obvious difference is that a mid-year review is conducted halfway through the year, while an annual performance review is conducted at the end of the year. Mid-year reviews are typically shorter and less formal than year-end reviews. They also tend to focus on current performance rather than looking back at the entire year.
As compared to 360-degree reviews, mid-year reviews are lighter check-ins that help you sit down with your team and discuss ongoing projects and progress. Fundamentally, mid-year reviews assist in making timely adjustments before it's too late.
4 Things to avoid during a mid-year reviews
1. Focusing only on weakness
Often focusing on weaknesses rather than strengths will only be counterproductive. While giving feedback, it's important to highlight their strengths and leverage them into something useful. When conducting reviews, enable people to identify both their strengths and weaknesses.
2. Ignoring critical feedback
As humans, it's in our nature to avoid difficult conversations, especially when it's connected to our personality traits like being too quiet which could mean you're less involved in discussions; or being too aggressive while speaking up. While it's easier said than done, it's essential to create a safe space for people to be open to feedback; here are a few tips that actually work!
3. Using a one-size-fits-all approach
The key to effective mid-year performance reviews is to work around a process that fits best for your team and not the one that's convenient for the top management. Since different groups have different cadences, it's essential to identify a process that suits one team that doesn't necessarily fit another. Work closely with each of your groups to understand their needs.
4. Not following up on the next steps
According to Deloitte, 82% of performance reviews are not worth the time because the whole process brings little to no value to the team. The solution is to make these reviews impactful by following up on the next steps. A great way to integrate this is through ongoing conversations and regular check 1:1s. And if you’re wondering how to do that, we’ve got you covered with our 1:1 templates.
4 Steps to acing the mid-year performance reviews
Ineffective managers: skips midyear reviews altogether or book meetings a few days in advance but provide little to no agenda in advance.
Great managers: are consistent with their check-ins and formal midyear meetings and provide team members with clear meeting objectives in advance.
How to plan like a pro:
- Book the mid-year review meeting at least 2-3 weeks in advance with a formal meeting invitation. It should be clear this is more than just a casual weekly check-in.
- Communicate the purpose so your team understands the objectives of the meeting and can come prepared (including any self-evaluation forms if needed.
Ineffective managers: try to 'wing it' on the spot. Takes 10-15 minutes before the meeting to skim individual goals and make notes.
Great managers: understand the importance of showing how invested they are in coaching and developing their team. Prepare in advance by collecting peer input, reviewing notes from 1:1s of the last six months, planning performance review questions, and planning discussion points to structure the meeting constructively.
How to prep like a pro:
- Review your team’s goal accomplishment till now – have they been slow / on track / beating targets? This could say a lot about how you set goals as well.
- Review action plans from any 1:1s you've held till now (if you haven't already, use our guide to start holding effective 1:1s today!) to make sure neither of you has dropped the ball on anything.
- Examine any 360-degree feedback, social feedback, peer inputs, etc. to identify trends, strengths, and opportunities that should be discussed in the future.
- If you follow a rating scale, determine the extent to which the person is performing in line with expectations – come up with a few action items to help them continue as-is or improve if need be.
- Plan questions you'd like your team to open up about – their development needs, training opportunities, etc.
Ineffective managers: do most of the talking or waste time in extensive small talk. Some managers do most of the talking and provide feedback but don't plan for the next 5-6 months. Year-end ratings then take people by surprise.
Great managers: keep at least a 60/40 split focusing on the team input. Appreciate accomplishments and strengths but also share constructive feedback for the future. People leave the meeting inspired with an action plan on what they need to deliver in the next 5-6 months.
How to hold your midyear powwow like a pro:
- Ensure your devices are in DND mode. As reviews are probably held virtually, make sure you connect via video and give your undivided attention.
- Pull up the agenda on a shared screen so both parties have it top of mind.
- Ask your team to start with how they think the past six months went. If you're faced with silence, nudge them by asking questions like "What did you think of…", "Do you want to tell me more about…."
- If you prepared your pointers in advance, make sure you cover:
- All key points from the self-evaluation
- Strengths or positive observations (use examples or feedback received from others)
- Progress against goals and any 1:1 action plans
- Add or alter any new goals
- Expectations for the future and action items to improve performance
- Mid or long-term development plan
- Make sure you both leave the meeting with a clear action plan/follow-up items needed to be done after the meeting. Bonus points if you schedule your next 1:1!
Ineffective managers: rarely follow up after the midyear review on action items discussed. They follow up after the midyear review once or twice but fail to deliver their end of the bargain or motivate people to do more.
Great managers: understand that maintaining the feedback loop is crucial and bring up action items in the following 1:1s.
How to pursue after the midyear review like a pro:
- Record a summary of the discussion and all action items discussed on your 1:1 tool (like Mesh), offline form, or over an email.
- Do your best to deliver your end of the bargain and act promptly if your team follows up.
- Follow up with your team to help them accomplish their goals and discuss their progress in your next 1:1.
As you hold your midyear reviews, consider how more frequent and regular performance discussions could benefit your team and organization. Yes, a continuous performance management philosophy requires some time and change in perspective at first, but knowing you're building a high-performing community ready to handle the challenges of today and tomorrow will be well worth the effort!
Could you use some help rocking your midyear reviews? Check out Mesh's easy-to-use platform with handy features like a social recognition feed, strengths recorded against hashtags for easy analysis, 1:1 notes, goal cards, task progress tracking, and an all-in-one team hub.