How to Write Mid Year Review: 7 Steps, Examples & Tips

Ben Goodey
Published on 
May 6, 2024
Ben is an HR enthusiast & researcher with an obsession with creating human-centred content.
Mid-year reviews get a bad rap for being tedious, rigid, and time-consuming. Here, we explain why managers should supplement mid-year reviews with real-time feedback, and how they can conduct a review that actually improves performance.

Mid year performance reviews are fast approaching.

We get it. Formal reviews feel tedious, difficult, and time-consuming. And still you worry you’re not helping your employees get the information and direction they need to improve performance.

With more than half of surveyed employees saying formal performance management processes, like reviews, have no impact on employee and company performance, you wouldn’t be wrong. 😬

So how do you drive real value in the mid-year review process? 

We’ll tell you all about that in this article.

Key takeaways:

  1. A major reason mid year reviews fail is because employees don’t receive continuous feedback throughout the year that can give proper direction and encouragement.
  2. Tools like Mesh can streamline and enhance your mid-year review process, giving managers support to complete unbiased, development focused feedback.
  3. Great feedback is specific, actionable, and timely. Only then can employees change their behavior at moments of need.

Why Most Mid Year Reviews Are Ineffective—And What You Can Do About It

Traditional performance management, and consequently mid year performance reviews, have been ineffective for a while:

  • Seven years ago the ‘Re-engineering Performance Management Report’ from Gallup showed only 29% of employees strongly agreed performance reviews were fair.
  • Just one year later, a McKinsey survey shared more than half of respondents believed performance management has not had a positive effect on employee or organizational performance
  • Fast forward to 2024, a Betterworks Global HR Research Report shared that 4 in 10 employees feel performance management is failing.

And yet, many businesses continue with the same old processes, either because change feels too overwhelming or because they don't know how to fix what's broken.

But to know how to fix it and to make that fix feel effortless, we need to know what about it is broken. 

To illustrate just how much friction there is in mid-year reviews, let’s look at the experience for the two personas; the manager and their direct report.

For managers, mid-year reviews often feel like a burdensome chore that wastes time and productivity. The more direct reports they have, the more time they feel is wasted. 

Why do they feel they’re a waste of time? Because there’s little to no follow through on the data and insights shared. The survey results are typically read once and then forgotten, gathering dust in a file somewhere. 

The data itself is flawed too—often biased by recent events and focussed too much on past performance over future potential. 

Direct reports, on the other hand, often find mid-year reviews painful and anxiety-inducing. 

They're unsure what points they should make to position themselves for a raise or promotion, and they don't know what resources or feedback they should ask for to improve their performance. 

This lack of clarity and structure leaves employees feeling uncertain, unprepared, and unmotivated. On top of that, they often feel the reviews they receive are unfair or inaccurate. 

Why is this the case? 

Factors Contributing to Ineffective Mid Year Reviews

These feelings, and the ineffectiveness of mid-year reviews, stem from several factors:

  1. Lack of feedback: When feedback is only given twice a year, it's often too little, too late. Employees need regular check-ins and guidance to stay on track and make necessary adjustments.
  2. Unclear expectations: Without well-defined goals and KPIs, both managers and employees struggle to assess performance accurately. This leads to subjective evaluations and a disconnect between expectations and reality.
  3. Insufficient training: Managers often lack the necessary skills and training to conduct effective performance reviews. They may avoid difficult conversations or fail to provide constructive feedback.
  4. Limited employee involvement: When employees aren't actively engaged in the review process, they feel less ownership over their development and are less likely to take action on feedback.

So, what helps?

Fixing a Broken Process

Numerous studies have proven that real-time and continuous feedback is the key to boosting performance. 

One study in the International Journal For Multidisciplinary Research, states that:

“Performance management reviews, combined with real-time feedback, drive business growth and improve employee satisfaction.”

While a McKinsey study revealed that:

“65% of respondents in companies who introduced tech to support performance management claimed this change has had a positive effect on both employee and company performance.”

That same report also showed that 68% of respondents agree ongoing coaching and feedback conversations have a positive impact on individual performance.

So, fixing your mid year performance review process comes down to using a dedicated performance enablement tool that: 

  • Facilitates continuous feedback
  • Reduces bias in periodic reviews
  • Empowers managers to be more effective leaders
  • Supports employee development. 

In the next section, we’ll go into how to conduct a mid-year review, and how our performance enablement tool, Mesh, can make this process so much easier.

How to Conduct Mid Year Reviews That *Actually* Improve Employee Performance

If you want your mid-year performance review process to work, you need to turn it into one your people want to take part in because they see them as fair, accurate, and helpful. 

These 7 steps will get you there:

  1. Make performance expectations crystal clear
  2. Schedule mid year review meetings for each employee
  3. Ask the employee to complete a self reflection
  4. Take time to prepare properly
  5. Write the review down so you can share it with your employee
  6. Discuss the review together 
  7. Help your employee set development goals

Step 1: Make performance expectations crystal clear

This is the foundation for any review process whether annual, mid-year, or quarterly. 

You cannot effectively or fairly measure performance without every employee knowing what is expected of them. To do that, you need to set well-defined, measurable expectations and goals that align with the team's and company's objectives. 

These expectations should be documented and communicated clearly and frequently throughout the year, not just during the review process.

Some organizations use a career framework to outline the competencies of every role, at every level. This framework can then be used to judge performance and show employees how to progress laterally or vertically in the business. 

There are career framework templates you can borrow and customize such as this one built by Lauren Gomes, the current VP of People at Build a Rocket Boy.

Career framework template for mid-year reviews - Mesh

You can also use performance enablement software like Mesh for managers and employees to co-create goals and action plans together. 

Mesh combines goal tracking with initiatives, so you can get greater visibility on how employees and teams approach their progress. This also helps keep everyone on the same page about progress and anticipated risks. 

Mesh goal setting for mid year review - Mesh

To prevent goals from being set and forgotten, Mesh sends you “nudges” to have ongoing conversations on progress, celebrate wins, and solve bottlenecks related to their goals.

A screenshot of Mesh Recommends - Mesh

Step 2: Schedule mid year review meetings for each employee

Once performance expectations have been clearly established, managers should schedule dedicated time for each employee's mid-year review. 

This demonstrates the importance of the process and ensures that both parties have adequate time to prepare and engage in a meaningful discussion.

When scheduling these meetings, managers should consider factors such as: 

  • the employee's workload
  • upcoming deadlines
  • and personal commitments. 

For example, some people don’t want to have meetings first thing in the morning—especially ones that can induce anxiety—while others like to get those same conversations out of the way early.

Aim to schedule the review meetings at least a week in advance to give employees time to prepare.

You can use Mesh to schedule these one-on-ones directly in the platform and sync them to your calendars. When it’s time to have the call, you’ll both get reminders and nudges to prepare. It’s like putting the right behaviors on auto-pilot. 

How to set a one-on-one on Mesh - Mesh

How much time should you set aside? We recommend 45 minutes. This gives enough time to go over the review in depth, field questions, address concerns, and start to plan for the future. 

It also gives you both 15 minutes afterward to decompress before jumping into the next meeting or task. 

Apart from scheduling mid-year reviews, we also recommend setting up regular one-on-ones on a more regular basis (e.g. once a week). 

This gives employees the chance to bring up any roadblocks and ask for feedback and resources before it’s too late. 

Managers can also take these regular one-on-ones to check in with the employee’s well-being and morale, while giving praise or advice to ensure employees reach their goals. 

📖 Read too: Top 5 Real Time Feedback Softwares For +15% High Performers

Step 3: Ask the employee to complete a self reflection in advance

Self reflection has been proven to boost performance

Before the mid-year review meeting, managers should ask each employee to complete a self-reflection exercise. This gives them an active role in their performance evaluation and helps them prepare for the upcoming discussion.

But they’ll need direction to get it right. Managers and HR can provide a structured template or questionnaire that covers key aspects of the employee's work, such as:

  • Major accomplishments and contributions
  • Progress towards goals and objectives
  • Challenges faced and how they were addressed
  • Areas for improvement and development
  • Feedback for their manager or team

Employees should be given ample time to complete this self-reflection, ideally a week before the scheduled review meeting. Encourage them to be honest, introspective, and specific in their responses.

If you use a tool like Mesh, your HR team can set up what questions are asked in 360 performance reviews with a template and then rely on the platform to nudge the employee to complete it on time.

360 performance review template - Mesh

Step 4: Take time to prepare properly

It can be tempting to simply show up to the mid-year review with your thoughts. But that does a disservice to your direct reports.

They deserve concentrated consideration to ensure the conversation is meaningful. Key steps in the preparation process include:

  1. Carefully read through the employee's self-assessment, noting key points, achievements, challenges, and areas for discussion.
  2. Gather and review relevant metrics, such as goal progress, KPIs, and project outcomes, to objectively assess the employee's performance.
  3. Reach out to colleagues, stakeholders, or clients who have worked closely with the employee to gain diverse perspectives on their performance and contributions.
  4. Consider your own experiences working with the employee, noting specific examples of their strengths, areas for improvement, and overall impact.
  5. Based on the information gathered, determine the most critical topics to address during the review meeting, such as notable achievements, development opportunities, and future goals.
  6. Organize relevant documentation, such as performance data, feedback, and examples, to reference during the meeting and support your feedback.

You can rely on Mesh to provide ample data across the review period, including praise and feedback your direct report has received from colleagues and subordinates (if they have any), goals they’ve set and if they’ve been achieved, competencies gained, and more.

Employee data provided by Mesh - Mesh

This reduces bias, paints a holistic picture of performance, and ensures fairness. 

Teams that run reviews/feedback cycles on Mesh see a ~42% drop in grievance reports on the final feedback reports.

Step 5: Write the review down so you can share it with your employee

Although most reviews are done in person or on a video call, writing down the review beforehand can help you organize your thoughts and stay on track. It also documents everything for future reference.  

Sharing it with your direct report ahead of time allows the employee time to process the feedback, formulate questions, and prepare for a productive discussion.

With Mesh, you can easily submit the review and share it directly with your direct report. You also won’t have to worry too much about the structure or covering specific items because the Mesh template will prompt you. 

How to write mid year reviews on Mesh - Mesh

There’s even an AI co-pilot named Maven to help you write the review in a way that is easy to understand and easy to action. 

AI coaching co-pilot on Mesh - Mesh

Step 6: Discuss the review together 

Now it’s time for the mid-year review to take place. You’ve already set up the 1-1 call ahead of time, prepared an agenda, and written up the formal performance review.

So what’s needed now is your undivided attention, empathy, encouragement, and openness. 

During the review meeting, managers should:

  1. Set a positive tone: Begin the conversation by expressing appreciation for the employee's contributions and commitment to their role.
  2. Review key points: Walk through the main sections of the written review, highlighting notable achievements, areas for improvement, and development recommendations.
  3. Encourage employee input: Invite the employee to share their thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the feedback provided. Listen actively and empathetically to their perspective.
  4. Clarify and address concerns: Be open to answering questions, providing additional context, and addressing any concerns the employee may have about the review or their performance.
  5. Discuss future goals and expectations: Collaboratively identify areas for growth and set specific, measurable goals for the upcoming period. Ensure that these goals align with team and organizational objectives.
  6. Identify support and resources: Discuss what support, training, or resources the employee may need to achieve their goals and improve their performance. Commit to providing this assistance as a manager.

Establish ongoing communication: Agree on a plan for regular check-ins and feedback sessions to monitor progress, address challenges, and celebrate successes.

Step 7: Help your employee set development goals

You’ve already discussed next steps and potential plans for development, either in your mid year review or in a follow-up 1-1. 

So your employee will have an idea of what capabilities they need to work on over the next 6+ months. 

It could be capabilities that they were lacking in their current role or ones they want to stretch into with the aim of a promotion. 

Development doesn’t happen without action. Managers should work with employees to set specific, actionable goals in line with their development needs. 

With Mesh, you’re able to set goals and OKRS directly in the platform and link them to core competencies. 

Goals vs. competency - Mesh

Then, you as the manager, can track progress on those goals, bring them up in 1-1 conversations, and refer back to them in the next performance review.

The employee will also be nudged to report on the goal regularly, reminding them that steps need to be taken to progress and increasing the likelihood the goal is achieved. 

📖 Related read: 6 Best SMART Goal Softwares for 2024 (Achieve More, Faster) 

5 Mid Year Reviews Examples for Managers - How to Give Effective Feedback Continuously

A performance review on its own will never be enough to effectively improve performance.

Your people need regular signals that tell them what they’re doing well, what they could improve, and if there are any resources they should be aware of. 

And that’s only possible if you’re delivering feedback—good feedback—continuously.

But what does that look like? Here are some examples of continuous feedback in action:

Example 1: Recognizing Strong Performance 

"Sarah, your work on the recent marketing campaign was exceptional. Your creative ideas and attention to detail helped drive a 20% increase in website traffic and generate a record number of leads. Your collaboration with the sales team was also commendable, ensuring a seamless handoff and follow-up process. Keep up the great work!"

💡Tip: Mesh's praise feature allows managers to easily recognize and celebrate employee wins in real-time.

By capturing these moments of success throughout the year, managers build a rich repository of positive feedback to reference during mid-year reviews.

Example 2: Addressing Areas for Improvement

"Mark, while you've made solid progress on your project management skills, there are still some areas where you can improve. I've noticed that you sometimes struggle to delegate tasks effectively, which can lead to missed deadlines and overwhelmed team members. Let's work together to identify strategies for better workload distribution and communication with your team."

💡Tip: Mesh's nudge technology encourages managers to provide constructive feedback regularly, rather than waiting for formal review periods. 

By addressing improvement areas in a timely manner, managers can help employees course-correct and develop their skills more efficiently.

Example 3: Setting Measurable Goals

"Lisa, as we look ahead to the next quarter, I'd like us to focus on increasing your sales conversion rate. Let's set a goal of boosting your conversion rate from 10% to 15% by the end of September. We can break this down into smaller milestones, such as improving your product demos and follow-up techniques. I'll be here to support you with coaching and resources along the way."

💡Tip: Mesh allows managers and employees to collaboratively set, track, and adjust goals throughout the year. 

By clearly defining measurable objectives and action steps, managers provide employees with a roadmap for success and a basis for ongoing development conversations.

Example 4: Encouraging Professional Development

"Chris, I've been impressed by your eagerness to learn and take on new challenges. I think you have great potential to grow in your role and take on more leadership responsibilities. Let's identify some specific skills or areas you'd like to develop and create a plan for pursuing relevant training, mentoring, or stretch assignments. I'm committed to supporting your professional growth."

💡Tip: Mesh's capability tracking features help managers get an overview of employees' strengths and growth opportunities. 

This clear, data-driven view of an employee's development over time, means managers can provide more targeted, meaningful feedback and guidance.

Example 5: Fostering Open Communication

"Rachel, I appreciate the honesty and transparency you bring to our team discussions. Your willingness to share ideas, ask questions, and provide constructive feedback helps create a positive, collaborative work environment. Let's discuss how we can continue to foster open communication and ensure that everyone's perspectives are heard and valued."

💡Tip: Mesh's feedback feature empowers employees to share upward feedback to managers and praise or advice to peers. 

By promoting open, multi-directional communication, Mesh helps create a feedback-rich culture that supports continuous learning and improvement.

What Makes Those Examples Good?

Each of those five examples is:

  • Specific: They reference concrete situations and behaviors rather than vague generalities.
  • Timely: They provide feedback soon after the relevant events occur, not months later.
  • And forward-looking: They include guidance on how to apply the feedback going forward.
How to make your goals smarter - Mesh

While that sounds simple to remember, it can be difficult to put into practice, especially when you want to slot feedback quickly and regularly into the flow of work.

Mesh makes it easy thanks to its nudge technology and AI co-pilot Maven. 

The science-backed nudges remind you to give feedback while Maven coaches you on how to make it specific and actionable every time. 

See how Mesh can transform the mid year performance review process in your organization, make feedback continuous, and enable better performance in your people.

Book a demo today.

7 Mid Year Review Tips for Employees - How to Ask for Feedback and Reach Goals

Managers aren’t the only ones who need help making the performance review process more effective. Employees too have a part to play. 

Below are 7 rapid-fire tips to help employees navigate their mid-year review:

  1. Don’t wait for performance reviews to get feedback, ask for it whenever you feel you need direction or have completed a major project 
  2. Seek feedback from more than just your manager. Anyone you work with (colleagues in and outside of your team) can provide unique perspectives
  3. Be open to constructive criticism, it can be hard to hear but can lead to the biggest growth 
  4. Ask clarifying questions to better understand the feedback and how you can apply it
  5. Come prepared to performance reviews with specific questions and discussion points (after reviewing the written mid year review your manager will have provided)
  6. Collaborate with your manager to set actionable goals
  7. Proactively seek out learning opportunities, mentors, and stretch assignments that align with your goals
Frequently Asked Questions
About the Author
Ben Goodey
HR Content Strategist
Ben is an HR enthusiast & researcher with an obsession with creating human-centred content.
About the Author
Ben Goodey
HR Content Strategist
Ben is an HR enthusiast & researcher with an obsession with creating human-centred content.

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