Maximizing the Mid-year Review

In many organizations, summer brings the opportunity for a mid-year performance review. At the least, it offers a good time to take a breather and “touch base” with employees.  You can use this time to revisit and revise annual performance goals and to recognize employee contributions so far. But not all mid-year performance reviews reach their full potential.

What makes a good mid-year performance conversation?

Your focus is on the employee’s performance, not on the person. The conversation should concentrate on highlighting what the employee has accomplished so far and on what they will be charged with achieving in the remainder of the year. When you direct the conversation on them personally, on their attitude or on your judgment about their work, they are likely to become defensive. When you focus on the work product and the results produced by the employee, the conversation will likely remain productive.

You encourage and expect the employee to participate. Rather than doing all the talking, ask questions that invite the employee to identify what they’ve accomplished so far and what they have yet to achieve. Ask for their ideas. Challenge them to identify ways to make the rest of the year a success.

Your focus is on the future, rather than on the past. Even though it may be a mid-year “review” it doesn’t have to be all about the past six months. Highlight the employee’s accomplishments and/or challenges, but spend the majority of the time creating a plan for the balance of the year. Make adjustments to the original plan so the employee has a clear path forward.

What should you talk about during the mid-year review? Try this question-driven agenda to guide your conversation and take notes on what you hear from the employee:

  • What goals have been accomplished so far?
  • What goals still need to be accomplished?
  • Which goals are no longer relevant? Should they be revised or deleted?
  • What new projects or issues have cropped up that should be
    represented as new goals?
  • What do you need to be able to accomplish the goals that remain for the rest of the year?
  • What challenges do you expect? How can I help you?
  • What else should we be talking about to help you be successful?


After exploring these questions, you can bring up issues, ideas, and concerns that the employee has not raised. The key is to focus on the future, rather than rehashing the past.

Mid-year reviews give you the opportunity to summarize the employee’s contributions and to refocus and adjust. Don’t miss the opportunity.

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