Holding your midyear reviews like a (great) boss

Things you should and should not be doing

As this surreal year’s half-way mark passes us by, many organizations with formal performance evaluation processes would have launched or be in the midst of completing their mid-year performance reviews and meetings (virtually of course!). However crazy this year may have been, expectations for productivity, innovation and resilience have been higher than ever before. Whether your organization carries out formal reviews annually or offers on-going feedback informally, we highly encourage managers to take it upon themselves to check in with their teams in order to recharge and regroup for the second half of the year. Why?

“ 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 formally sit down with your team 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 employees 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

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 employees are on track and receiving the proper feedback and support they need to succeed.


4 steps to acing the midyear performance reviews

1. Plan:

Ineffective managers:  wait for HR or team members to ask or skips midyear reviews altogether

Most managers: 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 days 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 the employee understands the objectives of the meeting and can come prepared (including any self-evaluation forms if needed)

2. Prep:

Ineffective managers: try to ‘wing-it’ on the spot

Most managers: take 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 6 months, and planning discussion points to structure the meeting constructively. 

How to prep like a pro:

  • Review the employee’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 have 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 for the future
  • If you follow a rating scale, determine the extent to which the employee 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 the employee to open up about – their development needs, training opportunities, etc.

 3.   Powwow

Ineffective managers: do most of the talking or waste time in extensive small talk. Employees leave meetings taken by surprise if constructive feedback is shared at all

Most managers: do most of the talking, provide feedback but don’t plan for the next 5-6 months. Yearend ratings then take employees by surprise

Great managers: keep at least a 60/40 split with the focus on employee input. Appreciate accomplishments and strengths but also share constructive feedback for the future. Employees 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 on a 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 the employee to start with how they think the past 6 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:
    • any 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 by both of you after the meeting. Bonus points if you schedule your next 1:1!

4.   Pursue

Ineffective managers: rarely follow up after the midyear review on action items discussed

Most managers: follow up after the midyear review once or twice but fail to deliver their end of the bargain or motivate employees to do more

Great managers: understand that maintaining the feedback loop is key 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 the employee follows up
  • Follow up with the employee 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 as a whole. Yes, a continuous performance management philosophy requires some time and change in perspective as 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 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 all in one team hub.


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