Insights & Ideas

3 Ways to Improve Mid-Year Performance Reviews

We’re almost at the time when managers begin scheduling mid-year performance reviews with their employees.  The purpose of these meetings is to have a face-to-face conversation about how the employee is progressing in delivering performance goals and what support they need from their manager.  It’s a plan that makes sense unless the following happens: a)    The manager is too busy to schedule the meeting, so it doesn’t happen. b)   The conversation goes something like this:  “How’s everything going?  Keep up the good work.  Next.” c)   Neither the manager nor the employee has prepared for the conversation.

Performance management has a profound impact on employee engagement.  The process helps employees understand what’s expected of them and drives personal accountability and pride.Graphic of conversation: "Let's Talk About You." "Awesome."

At one point in my career, the corporation I worked for reorganized, eliminating most middle management roles.  This meant I had more than 20 direct reports.  It could take a week to complete individual performance management meetings.   I admit I did a fair amount of grumbling about it. Yet what I learned was that my team members looked forward to those meetings.  It was their time in the spotlight — a time to talk about themselves. Think about it:  how often do you have time to talk about your accomplishments with your manager?  When can you talk about your career aspirations or share a story of work well done?  If it’s not happening on a regular basis already, mid-year review meetings create an opportunity. Here are three things you can do to improve mid-year performance reviews:

  1.   Build in lead time.  For a meaningful conversation, both you and your employee need time to review the employee’s annual goals, completed work and any performance gaps. Be sure to allow time for both of you to do that.
  2.   Focus on strengths.  It’s easy to focus on the imperfect.   Effective managers talk about what each individual brings to the team. Accentuate the positive in each employee. Research from Gallup shows that when employees know and use their strengths, they are more engaged and deliver better performance.
  3.   Ask how you can lend support. Coach team members who are struggling.  Be specific on areas that need improvement. Even high performers need to know that you support them, so don’t skip this step with them.

Here’s a final tip.  Don’t let the performance management cycle be the only time you speak individually with your team members.  Check in often, so that you know more about them than just their job description.  When employees know and trust their managers, engagement and performance soar. How have you engaged with your employees in the past? Share your story with me!  Contact Maureen at