Blow up the Mid-Year Review

I think mid-year reviews should be blown up and eliminated. When I worked for a Fortune 500 company, we were required by HR to do mid-year and year-end reviews. However, the problem with the mid-year review is that, by that point, we’ve reached the point in the fiscal year where there’s 6 months to go. Everybody is drinking water out of a fire hose, everybody is busy, and mid-year reviews are sliding down the list.

What ends up happening is the mid-year reviews are often skipped all together or thrown together haphazardly.

The mid-year review model is not effective in changing the behaviors and habits of high performers in an organization. Mid-year reviews are pulse checks that do no justice to the person receiving the feedback. I believe we should have an on-going, informal conversation that happens at least every 90 days and as often as every other week.

If a person is disengaged and disconnected from the culture of the organization, by the time you get to the mid-year review they have already been looking for another gig. They’re married to the job but looking. Like in any good marriage, if you want to keep a person in the marriage with the company, you have to talk to them and understand in real time how they’re doing and what’s happening.

If it’s working—great—how can the relationship improve? But if it’s not working, by the mid-year review, the marriage is dead. It’s too late.

So having frequent conversations and an ongoing understanding goes a long way to creating sustainability, growth and development.

Often, mid-year reviews are used to document an employee’s poor performance. For these employees, they will require much more follow up between the mid-year and the end-of-year review in order to make any real improvements. The few mid-year reviews I had to give were the come-to-Jesus meetings telling people that if something didn’t change, we would be having a different conversation.

One of the mid-year reviews I gave was because my leader told me we needed to find a way to separate the person from the organization. When I started the process, the mid-year review was the first documentation of the person’s performance. I knew the person was not performing to the level they were capable of, and certainly the culture of our business challenged them and probably was not going to work for them long term.

It was painful because it was the truth, but when you’re dealing with a person’s livelihood and you have to have the conversation that is the beginning of the end, you hope they get it, understand and change their tone and behavior. But if they don’t, the company has the documentation they need and the rest is history.

For all the employees who don’t get enough feedback, never wait for the boss to come to you with a mid-year review. Take the form or documentation that’s required to be completed, and update it at the end of every week.

Let your supervisor know: here’s specifically what I accomplished this week, here’s how I moved the organization forward, and here’s how I’ve accomplished whatever the objectives were for the year. Keep your own documentation so that by the time you sit down with your leader, there’s no guess work as to what was accomplished.

Understand there is a disparity between collecting information and really understanding meaningful contribution. When you submit your activities for the past 6 months, ask yourself, “Is this a meaningful contribution that is directed toward the strategic direction of the department or is it just white noise or activity?” There’s a difference between being busy and being effective. Busy work will get you on the guillotine of elimination.

Once per week, write down: What did I do/how did I making a meaningful contribution toward moving the organization forward?

If you have to give a review, ask your employee to help you help them. Make it a point to send an email once every other week and ask them to outline key bullets of what they’ve accomplished so that you’re not scratching your head or trying to figure out what they have done in the past 6 months. When you do that, you help set your employee up for success.