How To Conduct A Meaningful Mid-Year Review

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
  8. 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.

  9. 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?

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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.


  1. 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.

    • 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. 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. 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.

  4. 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.

    • 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Pingback: 10 Easy Ways to Improve the Mid Year Performance Review |

  8. Pingback: Let's Grow Leaders | Real Leaders, Better Business | Great Mid Year Review Questions

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