June is probably one of the most stressful months for a lot of employees – it indicates the time for mid-year performance reviews where their managers sit down with them to discuss performance, progress, accomplishments, goals and other work-related aspects.

The mid-year performance review is quite similar to one conducted annually, except that it’s less formal than the latter and is more like a ‘check-in’ kind of a meeting with employees to check their status on meeting goals, offer assistance, get feedback, and help correct any employee issues.

It often brings up a lot of negative emotions in the employees, such as dread, anxiety, and confusion because, many times, they don’t know what to expect. They end up becoming quite apprehensive about the evaluation meeting because, truth be told, mid-year performance reviews are often quite disorganized and are conducted in a very rushed manner. In such cases, they end up doing more harm than good.

However, as a manager, the end result of the meeting is simply in your hands. You can make sure that the evaluation meeting is effective and useful not just for the employees but for you as well.

And to make the meeting effective, you must plan it out properly.

Take a look at this comprehensive guide on how to conduct mid-year performance reviews that also includes tips on how to make the entire process successful.

Reasons for Conducting Mid-Year Performance Reviews

Before we get to the ‘how’ of mid-year performance reviews, it is best if we first address the ‘why’ aspect of it. As it turns out, not many employers and supervisors believe in the need for conducting mid-year evaluations.

A study by Gallup found out that only 14% of employees feel that performance reviews motivate them to do better, improve their productivity levels and work harder. So, a lot of companies and organizations decide it’s better not to have mid-year evaluation meetings since they aren’t likely to do any good.

However, research also shows that performance reviews in most organizations are so poorly planned, and the approach to feedback is so bad that they end up demotivating the employees instead of the other way round.

To put that into perspective, it’s not the performance review that’s problematic, but it’s the way they are planned and conducted that needs a bit of change.

Here are a few important reasons why mid-year reviews are important and ways in which they help build more cohesive teams and better employee-manager relationships.

  • To make sure everything is on track in terms of goal-accomplishments work progress
  • To provide feedback on the employees’ current progress and what they can do to get better
  • To communicate any kind of changes in goals, objectives, teams, roles that are likely to impact the second half of the given year
  • To discuss employee satisfaction and potential problems that they might be facing
  • To build trust and loyalty between managers and employees and ensure effective and smooth communication
  • To discuss new ideas and ways to make the organizational system better
  • To cater to mid-year adjustments and eliminating all kinds of possible roadblocks that might be hindering employee performance
  • To be able to take corrective action before the final annual performance review
  • To keep goals and objectives well aligned with business and organizational changes
  • To review and analyze specific goals that employees need to accomplish by the end of the given year

How to Conduct Mid-Year Performance Reviews

This is one of the most important and crucial aspects of performance reviews where managers need to give their all and implement great levels of care, caution and attention.

It involves a series of steps that we will cover in-depth to help ensure that your next evaluation meeting is super effective, successful, and productive.

Step 1 – Schedule the Performance Review Meeting

Mid-year evaluations might be less formal in nature as compared to annual ones, but that doesn’t mean we can just wing it and be casual about it.

You must schedule the performance review well in advance so that you can make notes, do your homework, and prepare for it properly. Generally, mid-year reviews are scheduled after the annual year-end review, but you can make a few adjustments here and there as long as you plan ahead in time and communicate the very same to your employees as well.

You must inform everyone in the organization about the meeting a month or at least two weeks in advance so that, like you, the employees can use this time period to prepare for the performance review meeting. Managers need to understand that it’s an even more stressful process for the employees since they are the ones at the receiving end.

Not just that, but scheduling in advance will allow you to make sure that the meeting doesn’t interfere with the employees’ tasks or important deadlines on the prescribed date and month.

Step 2 – Prepare for the Meeting

Once you’ve set the date and day for the performance review meeting, it is now time for you to prepare for it.

In this step, you need to collect relevant and foundational information about all your employees, which will help you analyze their performance and provide useful feedback.

This includes many things such as reviewing performance expectations, job responsibilities, making important notes, assessing reports and files, preparing questions to be asked that you plan to ask your employees in the meeting, and documenting their performance throughout regularly.

It is important for managers to also take note of employees who might be performing far beyond expectations because they need to be appreciated and praised for all their hard work and efforts.

Step 3 – Structure the Meeting

Performance review meetings are generally conducted one-on-one, so it’s ideal that you lay out the meeting’s structure in advance so that you know exactly how to go about it. You can even discuss it with the employees so that they know what to expect as well.

It’s essential to note and understand here that the very mention or thought of a performance review can cause a lot of stress, anxiety and panic among your employees. To avoid such situations, the right thing to do is to communicate tell your team about the meeting, the agenda of the meeting, and that it’s going to be one-on-one featuring a two-way discussion so that they can prepare for it in the meantime.

Step 4 – Conduct the Mid-Year Performance Reviews As Per Schedule

Imagine the day of the meetings has arrived, and it’s time for you to begin conducting the mid-year performance review and evaluation according to the schedule that you created earlier.

In this stage, you must exercise patience, understanding, trust, politeness and encouragement. These are core factors that will not only help make it easy and comfortable for your employees but also for you.

Here’s how a typical evaluation meeting goes:

  • Begin the meeting by asking the employee if they understand the purpose of the mid-year performance review.
  • Discuss their performance so far and assess how they’ve been doing.
  • Ask the employee for a verbal self-assessment of their achievements, progress, observations, etc. This is done to ensure that you both are on the same page, and if there’s any discrepancy, you can address it there and then.
  • Recognize improvements in their overall performance to this date and make sure that you highlight aspects of favorable performance, goal-achievement and positive outcomes.
  • Ensure a productive two-way communication where your employers also contribute to the conversation.
  • Discuss challenges and potential problems that they might be facing and address them by offering viable solutions.
  • Ask for their opinions on what they think could be done in a better way.
  • Talk about their strengths, weakness and areas of improvement.
  • Address employee satisfaction in the meeting and make sure to find out if they are happy, motivated and satisfied. If not, discuss why they feel that way and what can be done to change things around for them.
  • Designs a development plan and share it with the employee so that they can use to deal with their career goals, both short term and long term.
  • As a human resource professional, you must also gain proper insight into whether the goals and objectives of your employees are well-aligned with the company culture.
  • Summarize the conclusions of the performance review on the basis of progress, goal-achievement, favorable results, challenges and issues, solutions and answers, commitments and future goals.

Useful Tips for Conducting Productive Mid-Year Performance Reviews

Conducting a performance review is one thing, but making sure that it’s successful, productive and effective is a whole other matter.

Tip 1 – Don’t Spring Any Surprises on Your Employee

One of the worst things you can do as a manager during mid-year performance reviews is taking them by surprise. If you didn’t mention something to your employees before the meeting and if you tell them during the review, it’s your fault.

If there’s anything that you think your employees should know before the meeting, make sure that you inform them in advance about it and not during it. Springing surprises on your employees is one of the fastest ways that will destroy their trust. So, managers need to be extremely careful and particular about this.

Tip 2 – Stick to the Schedule

Rescheduling performance reviews, or worse, canceling them, is a very negative act on your part as a manager because it makes a bad impression on your employees. It is likely to make them think that you have more important things to do and leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

So, you must stick to the set schedule no matter what. Also, make sure there are no distractions or interruptions during the evaluation meeting because, again, it sends out a very negative message to your employees.

Tip 3 – Provide Specific Feedback

One of the most important requirements of effective mid-year performance reviews is providing specific valuable feedback so that your employees are able to understand what exactly you are talking about.

You must avoid being vague and ambiguous and try to stick to feedback that’s narrowed down to the little things.

Tip 4 – Listen Carefully and Actively

As a manager, you must also listen to your employees and give them a chance to voice out their concerns and issues. A successful performance review ensures a two-way discussion in which both the manager and employees talk and listen actively.

You want to let your employees know that you do care about them, and if they happen to be facing any issues or hindrances in their work, you are here to help them and solve all potential problems.

Tip 4 – Be Honest and Transparent

A key tip for managers to follow during performance reviews is to be extremely honest and transparent. From goals to objectives to challenges to future expectations, every aspect of the meeting must be dealt with honesty and a balance.

You have to strike a balance when providing feedback to employees.

Tip 5 – Don’t Resort to the ‘Sandwich’ Feedback Technique

Many times, managers end up sandwiching a negative statement or feedback between two positive ones, a technique known as ‘sandwich’ feedback. This approach often fails because, firstly, it’s not exactly honest, and secondly, the employee is likely to find it as a bit too controlling on your part.

So, to prevent that from happening, you might want to separate the negative and positive feedback to ensure clarity and honesty.

Tip 6 – Choose Your Words and Phrases Carefully

Your words can leave a lasting impact, and they carry a lot of power. If you use positive phrases and statements, your employees are likely to feel happy, motivated and encouraged towards the end of the performance review. If, however, you resort to negative and undesirable words, they can leave an adverse impact and make your employees more anxious and stressed out than before.

So, try to choose your words and phrases carefully by using specific language, focusing on problem-solving, appreciating good performance, and staying positive as well as constructive throughout the meeting.

Tip 7 – Ensure Clear Cut Communication

Clarity is extremely important for successful mid-year performance reviews because it ends the meeting on a good note, where the employees know exactly what is expected of them. It also ensures that employees go back with a thorough and clear understanding of their goals and objectives for the remainder of the year.

Important Questions to Address During a Performance Review

As a manager, you want to ensure that you don’t waste any time during performance review meetings by asking the right questions and not losing precious time on the wrong ones.

There are a few important basic questions that you need to address during the meeting. This includes the following:

  • How have employees performed ever since the last evaluation meeting?
  • What specific accomplishments or achievements are employees proud of so far?
  • What goals and objectives have been attained so far?
  • What challenges or obstacles have employees experienced that have possibly impacted their overall growth and performance?
  • What new goals and objectives should be included or prioritized for the second half of the year?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how would the employees rate their overall performance?
  • How can managers help support employees in a better way?
  • Is there anything that employees wish to talk about or any concerns they might want to raise but are hesitant about?
  • Is there a different or new role that employees find more fitting for themselves? If yes, how can the organization or the company help them get there?
  • What additional help or resources do the employees will the employees require, if any, to attain future goals and objectives?
  • How can managers make things more effective or better for the employees overall?

These are just a handful of basic questions that you as a manager must address during the performance review meeting. The ultimate goal is to talk about important matters so that both you and the employees are on the same page.

Key Takeaway

There’s no denying the fact that many managers find mid-year performance reviews to be a waste of time, effort and money because they think they won’t yield effective results. Similarly, most employees aren’t exactly thrilled either about having to sit through an evaluation meeting. However, when done right and conducted properly, performance reviews go a long way in keeping track of an employee’s overall performance and helping them perform even better in the second half of the given year.

The mid-year review is different from the annual ones, so make sure that you plan them both in a distinguished manner.

As a manager, it is your job to ensure the effectiveness and success of a performance review because, at the end of the day, you are the one planning it, so it’s in your hands how you wish to go about it.

Lastly, it is imperative that you understand the importance of performance reviews and how beneficial they can be for you as well as the employees.