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Karin’s Leadership Articles

How To Conduct A Meaningful Mid-Year Review

by | Jul 3, 2013 | By Karin Hurt, Career & Learning |

Have you had a mid-year review this year? Are you planning to give one to the members of your team? Mid-year reviews are often “optional.” No one’s really watching. You’re busy, so are they maybe just do a quickie.

On the other hand

You wouldn’t consider an optional Superbowl halftime huddle. Imagine the coach saying “well they played a great first half no need to say much.” Or, “Guys, just keep doing what you’re doing.” “We’re really to busy with all this excitement.”

The coach speaks at half-time and the players listen.

A mid-year review should summarize, celebrate, challenge, and inspire

Why Mid Year Reviews Beat EOY Appraisals

  • There’s still 6 months to impact the year
  • No need to assign a rating
  • No linkage to compensation, focus is on development
  • Since there often “optional,” conducting them well sends an important message

Making Mid-Year Reviews Meaningful

In my company, HR conducted a cool study linking performance appraisals to overall employee satisfaction. As expected, those who had received meaningful performance feedback, were overall much more satisfied with their jobs and supervisors. The interesting wrinkle, those who received a poorly conducted appraisal, were less satisfied than those who did not receive them at all.

Don’t go through the motions. If you won’t invest the time to offer a meaningful mid year review, you’re better off skipping it.

What Feels Meaningful

I’ve been asking my own organization and other review receivers, “what makes reviews mid-year reviews meaningful?”

    1. No Surprises
      Mid years extend ongoing conversation. If you have something to brand new to say, say it before or say it out loud, not in writing
    2. Create Linkage
      Circle back to commitments and progress made in the last review
    3. Be Specific
      Provide examples of what’s working and how to improve
    4. Personalized Career Discussion
      Link back to personal goals, show that you “get” me and understand what’s important from my POV. Go deep with me.
    5. Recognize
      Special projects and challenges I’ve taken on
    6. Challenge
      Me with a stretch project or assignment
    7. Stretch
      Me out of my comfort zone

What would you add?

P.S. I realized that as Steve and Eric began to comment, I left out the most important aspect, which I add here now.

  1. Conversation
    Great reviews are conversations. Ask LOTS of provocative questions. Listen more than you talk.

Let’s keep growing the list who else has suggestions?

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today?


  1. Eric Dingler

    I try to ask more questions and listen more than I do in EOY reviews. I always ask, “If there was one thing we could have offered in training or giving you to equip you to be more productive and/or satisfied in your work, what it would have been and why?” The answers always surprise me. For example, last year one of my staff said she wished above anything she had a key to all the supply closets and storage areas. Asking for a key was always just an added pain. So, we gave her a key. She still thanks us for it. It cost me about $.37 cents.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Eric, sounds like a great way to spend $.37. And I be the funny thing is that most folks wouldn’t want one. She felt heard…because you asked. Love it.

  2. Steve Borek

    Give the one being reviewed a bigger voice.

    The list looks one sided. Meaning, it’s coming from the manager to the team member.

    I’d ask the employee how they did. What will they do to improve? As your manager, how can I improve to significantly improve your performance. Leaders serve.

    I never liked reviews. They were meaningless. One sided with an agenda. To make management look good.

    There’s always a better way.

  3. letsgrowleaders

    Steve, GREAT add. You are right. None of these components are done without conversation. I’m adding that to the post now.

  4. Bonnie Mann, CPA (@bonniemann)

    We consider our mid-year reviews more of a conversation and a course correction on the road to the end of the year review. Our mid-year reviews actually come after our busiest time of year and we use that to find out how that period was for all of the staff while it is still fresh in everyone’s minds.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Bonnie, I love that your mid-year reviews are so well timed. Tha

      • letsgrowleaders

        Bonnie, I love that timing… that’s when learning will be greatest. Cool.

  5. Steve Broe

    Karin, I like your point that a great review should be a conversation. A conversation suggests that there is a dialogue, something for all parties to consider. Most employers are going to be interested in the measured performance of work, and the employee will typically be caught up in the process of the experience. The review is a superb opportunity for both perspectives to meet and be influenced by the other. At review time, the employee deepens his or her understanding of the manager-leader’s perspective and has the opportunity to influence the view of the boss.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Steve, So great to see you here. AND so great to have so much converstation that we have two Steve Bs 😉 Ahh perspective. Spend as much time on that as possible.

  6. Jim Ryan

    Great list. I will be sharing with my team. I like to include learning goals for the next six months. I include what I can do to help them achive that goal.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Jim, Thanks for sharing. Learning goals… yes! I forgot to include that. So vital.

  7. Ali Anani (@alianani15)

    Karin- a timely post. I am publishing next week a presentation on how some managers draw a straight line from one point. I give many examples in which performance evaluation is one of them. Having one evaluation meaning having one point- how do we then draw a conclusion from one evaluation? Therefore, the mid-year evaluation is of utmost importance as its makes two points available. Yes, I concur with this post and i find it valuable.

  8. letsgrowleaders

    Ali, GREAT. Thanks so much. Please stop back with your link when you are ready.

  9. Tracy Shroyer, PhD, MBA

    Very good timing, as our self-evaluations are due today and conversations will occur in June! Thanks for a great list!

    • Karin Hurt

      Tracy, Excellent! Glad I could help.


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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict, and hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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