How to Hold a Better Mid Year Performance Review

How to Hold a Better Mid-Year Performance Review

Tempted to skip the mid-year review this year, particularly with your high-performers? Read this first.

Imagine you’re coaching your son’s football team. They’re up by 7. What do you say at half-time?

“Well, you guys played a great first half. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Or do you just skip the half-time huddle all together and go check your email. After all, you’re busy.

No decent coach misses the opportunity for a great half-time huddle. Why would you?

Why Now?

Mid-Year Performance Reviews are the Half-Time Huddle of Business.

  • There are still six months to impact the year.
  • In most companies, there’s no need to assign a rating or link to compensation. This frees you to be more real and developmentally focused–without the distraction of bell curves and merit payouts.
  • Since a mid-year performance review is often “optional,” conducting them shows the employees you’re invested in them and their performance.

Making Your Review More Meaningful

When Karin was working in her sales executive role, her HR team did an experiment linking performance feedback to employee satisfaction. As expected, those who had received meaningful performance feedback, were overall much more satisfied with their jobs and supervisors. But there was an interesting wrinkle. Those who received a poorly conducted mid-year review were less satisfied than those who did not receive them at all.

It’s important to not just go through the motions. If you won’t invest the time to offer a meaningful mid-year performance review, you’re better off skipping it.

What Feels Meaningful?

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

When we ask employees what makes a mid-year performance review meaningful, here’s what they say.

  1. It’s a conversation. We talk openly about what’s working and where I can improve.
  2. No surprises. We’ve been meeting weekly, so there’s nothing new here. We talk about trends, progress and focus on development.
  3. My manager has specific examples and focuses on behaviors.
  4. We talk about my career and long-term goals.
  5. I feel recognized for the extra effort and challenges I’ve taken on.
  6. It’s an opportunity for me to share my new ideas on how to improve the business.
  7. My manager asks great questions and really listens to what I have to say.
  8. What would you add?

Mid-Year Performance Review Conversation Starters

If you need some help to get started, try a few of these questions to get the conversation rolling.

Questions to Reflect on Performance

  • How are you feeling about the year so far?
  • Describe what you see happening with this project.
  • What are you most of proud of this year?
  • What lessons have you learned?
  • What new relationships have you fostered?
  • How are you different now than you were six months ago?
  • Where are you stuck?

Questions to Challenge and Turnaround

  • Have you ever had an experience like this before?
  • If so, what did you do that helped?
  • Tell me about the patterns you’re seeing.
  • What do you think we should do?
  • Which habits would you like to change?
  • What’s the most important thing you can do to turn this situation around?
  • What additional resources do you need?
  • How can I best support you?

Questions to Encourage

  • What would happen if?
  • What’s possible?

Questions to Solicit Feedback

  • If you were in my shoes, what would you be doing differently?
  • What can I do to better support you and the team?
  • What have I done this year that most ticked you off?
  • How have I been most helpful?

Your Turn

Leave us a comment and share: What are your best practices for highly effective mid-year performance reviews?

Winning Well: A Manger's Guide to Getting Results without Losing Your SoulWant more tools like this?

Read Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results–Without Losing Your Soul.  And Download our FREE Winning Well Book Group Facilitator’s Guide.

Posted in Communication, Human Resources, Results & Execution, Winning Well and tagged , , .

Karin Hurt David Dye

Karin Hurt and David Dye help leaders achieve breakthrough results without losing their soul. They’re the founders of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm. They're the award-winning authors of Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul. Karin is a top leadership consultant and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. David Dye is a former executive, elected official, and president of Let's Grow Leaders. Karin and David are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells - building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Well you lost me at half-time huddle. This is business, not sports. Maybe if managers viewed it as such more would get done. Too bad that in order for you to believe that you are being heard you have to speak to those that think everything is about football. Personally I’m discouraged.

    • Personally, I thought the article was excellent. I don’t think the authors would be as well regarded and successful in their personal leadership journey if they thought business was “a frivolous game” as you are insuating… Using a football metaphor to try to get their point across can be powerful for some readers and will not connect with others, and that’s ok in my book. I’m surprised you are discouraged over a metaphor, sports and leadership have a lot in common and you are missing out on great content if you are walking through life being discouraged by articles with sports analogies/metaphors. Please don’t take offense to this, I think this is a great opportunity to take the time and do some self-reflection though. Have a great day!

  2. HI Michelle, Sorry that the sports analogy doesn’t work for you. We try to mix up our metaphors so that over time they appeal to a broad range of our diverse audience. The how to make it meaningful and the questions still work even for those of us who don’t spend a lot of time at football games (including me 😉

  3. My organization is going away from the mid-year appraisals to just annually. This article is a nice argument against that, and at least encourages me to maybe touch base more formally at the six-month mark even it doesn’t “count” as a semi-annual evaluation.

    • Kev, Exactly why we wrote this 😉 Thank you! Honestly, I like it even better when it doesn’t “count,” because you have more flexibility for meaningful conversation without worries of rankings or ratings. And your team will be grateful for the extra effort.

  4. It is very helpful article for a manager to do half year review. It equip, refreshes one with soft skills like asking certain questions to trigger, conclude meaningful and open discussion.

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