How to Prepare Employees for Their Midyear Performance Reviews

Tips for managers on how they and their employees can get the most out of midyear performance reviews.

This article has been updated from a post originally published on June 26, 2016 by CEB, now Gartner.

In the age of informal ongoing feedback and peer feedback, it’s tempting to think there is no place for once-popular midyear reviews, but that’s not so if managers and employees know how to get the most from them.

Companies traditionally use midyear reviews much like formal year-end reviews, to measure and explain employees’ progress on their goals to date. The process is designed to ensure employees are fully aware of expectations, make any needed updates to objectives or development plans, and prevent surprises at the year-end performance reviews.

It never hurts to remind managers and employees that midyear is a good time to discuss their goals, performance and development

Over time, many of these reviews have turned into informal check-ins, as companies see a formal midyear process as repetitive and cumbersome. But midyear meetings, no matter how formal or informal, still have enormous potential value.

“Especially in companies where ongoing feedback has become the norm, it never hurts to remind managers and employees that midyear is a good time to discuss their goals, performance and development,” says Blakeley Hartfelder, Gartner research consultant.

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Give feedback that’s actionable

For midyear feedback to be useful, it must be actionable. Therefore, managers should be sure to do the following when providing feedback:

  • Give overall feedback on progress vs. specific goals and required competencies
  • Recognize accomplishments to date and reinforce the path to achieving goals
  • Adjust goals based on changing priorities and circumstances
  • Identify priorities for the rest of the year
  • Identify potential barriers to achieving stated goals
  • Identify development opportunities for the employee

Help employees understand and act on feedback

Preparing managers is only half of the equation, though. The best companies also help prepare employees by for instance, providing simple do’s and don’ts to employees as they prepare for midyear conversations to make the process more productive and actionable.

Encourage employees to:

  • View feedback as an opportunity to learn more about themselves professionally
  • Understand that an immediate emotional response to feedback is normal, and they may need time to process what was said
  • Ask clarifying questions to understand better their manager’s concerns and suggestions for improvement
  • Be proactive in seeking feedback on key projects or areas of concern
  • Reflect on the feedback to determine next steps and how to apply the feedback

Discourage employees from:

  • Taking it personally or become argumentative or defensive when receiving feedback
  • Guessing what vague feedback means
  • Ignoring feedback and continuing to behave counter to the feedback
  • Interrupting feedback before carefully listening to the reasons the feedback was given.
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Gartner for HR Leaders clients can also read Six Ways to Fix Performance Management.