Organizational Wellness

Maximize Performance Potential: Essential Mid-Year Review Strategies for HR Leaders

Jun 21, 2024
Last Updated Jun 21, 2024

If you had all the time in the world, you could be a career coach to every employee. You'd meet with them once a week to discuss their goals, progress, strengths, and weaknesses, helping everyone blossom into the most incredible employee they can become!

Unfortunately, employee development isn’t the only thing on your plate. HR has one or two things to handle, to put it mildly. 

But while that HR utopia may be a pipe dream, you don't have to settle for just annual reviews, either. The mid-year review is the perfect opportunity to check in and discuss professional progress in a constructive, non-judgmental setting.

Running a productive mid-year review starts with a standardized framework. Give your managers a plan to follow and set up procedures for mid-year reviews, and you can set your employees up for a great second half of the year. Follow this structure to help everyone succeed.

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What are Mid-Year Reviews? Why Conduct Them?

Mid-year employee reviews are a valuable process where managers and employees connect to discuss performance, progress, and professional growth. These reviews offer a chance to celebrate achievements, tackle challenges, exchange feedback, and refine goals for the rest of the year. 

These conversations can be enhance performance, boost engagement, and ensure everyone’s efforts align with the organization's objectives — even if you already host annual reviews.

Hosting mid-year reviews, in addition those annual touch points, offers several key benefits that can significantly enhance both employee performance and organizational success.

  1. Timely Feedback: Mid-year reviews provide timely feedback, allowing employees to make necessary adjustments and improvements well before the annual review. This helps in maintaining a continuous cycle of performance enhancement.
  2. Goal Alignment: These reviews ensure that employees' goals and activities remain aligned with the company's objectives. They offer an opportunity to reassess and realign goals based on any changes in the organization's priorities or market conditions.
  3. Increased Engagement: Regular check-ins through mid-year reviews can boost employee engagement. They show that the organization is invested in their continuous growth and development, which can in turn improve motivation and job satisfaction.
  4. Proactive Issue Resolution: Mid-year reviews allow managers to identify and address potential issues before they escalate. This proactive approach helps in maintaining a positive and productive work environment.
  5. Professional Development: These reviews provide a platform to discuss professional development opportunities. Managers and employees can identify training needs, career aspirations, and growth opportunities, fostering a culture of continuous learning.
  6. Enhanced Performance Management: By offering a structured opportunity for feedback and development discussions, mid-year reviews contribute to a more dynamic and responsive performance management system. This helps keep everyone on track towards their year-end goals.
  7. Employee Retention: Regular feedback and development opportunities can significantly enhance employee satisfaction and retention. Employees who feel valued and supported are more likely to stay with the company.

How to Set the Stage for Successful Reviews

Did you know only one-third of employees value and participate in performance reviews, according to the Arbinger Institute's 2024 Workplace Trends Report? 

To end up on the right side of that gap, you need an employee- and action-oriented review structure. Three best practices can guide your review structure:

  • Gather information: Mid-year reviews shouldn't just be management's side of the story — or even theirs and the employees'. That approach leads to a he-said-she-said interview, often making both parties feel defensive. Assemble a file with documentation of each employee's performance. If available, include ratings from customer reviews, supervisor notes, and individual performance data.
  • Focus on the coming half-year: Don't let the word "review" fool you. Mid-year performance reviews are about the next six months, not the last. As you talk about what happened in the first half of the year, consider where you want each employee to be in December. Are they on the right track, or must they adjust their trajectory? 
  • Listen more than you talk: Reviews are about the employee, so let them share their experience. What they say can help management and supervisors set employees up for success.

You may not be the one conducting the interview, but this is an important expectation to set with managers. It's also essential to establish what types of discussions are most productive, and the best way to do that is by sharing questions for both parties to answer.

Key Mid-Year Review Question Categories (with Examples)

Mid-year reviews are strongest when they’re two-way conversations. The employee and manager have the chance to reflect on the employee's performance, offer feedback, and discuss goals for the future. Here are some mid-year review examples to get you started.

Employee Self-Assessment

Self-reflection is the most valuable aspect of a mid-year performance review. You know how others view an employee's work and whether they've met objective goals, but you need to know what that work looks like from the inside. Maybe the employee sailed through first- and second-quarter goals because they figured out a new way of doing things. Or, perhaps they barely squeaked by and were hoping to sweep it under the rug. Both of those situations look same on a KPI report, but are vastly different employee experiences.

No one likes feeling on the spot, so send out mid-year review questions beforehand. Here are some examples to choose from:

  • "What are your biggest accomplishments in the first half of the year?"
  • "What projects or assignments best used your skills, and how did you contribute?"
  • "What challenges did you encounter, and how did you respond? Did you have enough support?"
  • "Where do you feel you could improve, and what support do you need?"
  • "What are you excited about in the coming six months? What are your worries?"

Manager Assessment

A manager typically has two jobs in the performance review setting — to assess the employee's performance and conduct the review.

It's crucial to treat these as two separate tasks. Running the meeting is about communicating expectations as objectively as possible. The manager's job is to help the employee feel heard, respected, and recognized. 37% of respondents told Great Place to Work that more recognition would help them perform better.

If constructive feedback is necessary, the focus should be on potential improvement. As HR, you can help managers keep the discussion constructive by sharing guiding questions, such as: 

  • "How has [Employee] demonstrated alignment with company values?"
  • "Which of [Employee]'s skills are most impactful to the team?"
  • "What makes [Employee] stand out?"
  • "What types of tasks would you instantly assign to [Employee]? Is there anything you'd avoid giving them?"

Aim to provide these questions by the end of the previous quarter. Managers will need some time to craft thoughtful, individualized answers.

Feedback Exchange

Once both parties have shared their thoughts, it's time to open the floor to some back-and-forth feedback. This is when managers share their suggestions for improvement, and employees do the same.

This can be a nerve-wracking moment for employees. Speaking up can feel like a risk, even in an organization with open communication. It's easier in a one-on-one setting where feedback is expected and encouraged. The manager can set the tone of the meeting by allowing the employee to start the direction of the conversation.

The best way to start a feedback exchange is with an open-ended question. For example, the employee could ask the manager:

"What type of feedback would you find most helpful from me?"

Starting employee feedback with a question helps employees feel in control of the process. The manager's job is to craft their responses based on what will be most productive. Framing the process this way leads to more meaningful feedback, which is easier for employees to apply. 80% percent of employees who received meaningful feedback in the past week reported feeling fully engaged according to a Gallup poll.

Future Focus

Now, we come to a crucial and often-overlooked part of the mid-year performance review: How the review will impact the employee’s work in the second half of the year.

This empowers team members to get the most out of any feedback they receive. The manager can incorporate this into the conversation by asking how the employee sees the following months and years playing out, and the employee gets to ask for what they need. 

Employees who feel actively involved in their own goal-setting are more than three times more likely to feel engaged, according to another Gallup poll. Yet, only 30% of employees think their employers make them part of that process, and only one in five feel in control of their performance metrics.

Don't be that company. Be the company that respects employees' autonomy by putting their goals in their hands. As usual, the conversation starts with open-ended questions, such as:

  • "Are your current goals still realistic? Do they need adjusting?"
  • "What do you see getting in the way of reaching your goals for this year?"
  • "What professional development opportunities would you like to explore?"

Use these questions as segues into the next half of the year. The employee should leave feeling empowered and supported to do their best work.

Types of Mid-Year Performance Reviews

These best practices can be arranged in any format that makes sense for your company. There are several traditional types of performance reviews, including the following:

  • 360-degree performance reviews: Managers solicit feedback from multiple people, including the employee's direct supervisors, peers, and clients, as well as a self-assessment. 
  • Peer appraisal: Employees assess the performance of others whose work they know well and whose position is on the same level.
  • Competency assessments: Managers systematically compare the employee's performance against documented job requirements.
  • Graded rating appraisals: Managers rate employee performances on a five- to 10-point scale, rating each key aspect of the job separately.

The review method should always match company culture and be presentable in a way that feels productive. Most importantly, the results should lead to an action plan for the future.

How to Turn Mid-Year Review Feedback Into Action

Mid-year reviews can optimize performance for struggling and top-performing employees alike. Everyone has room to grow, after all.  

You can by documenting the mid-year review meeting. Outline the employee's strengths and weaknesses from their perspective and the manager's. Document the feedback exchange and any responses, and note any changes to the employee's goals.

Then, create a document summarizing these notes and draft a development plan for each employee. Those performance plans should include:

  • Specific and trackable objectives based on broader goals
  • A timeline for achieving those goals
  • Action steps for improving on self-assessed weaknesses

Managers can send these documents or meet with employees again to review them and get their thoughts. The process should be collaborative and encourage employees to feel positive about their job and company. Stress is counterproductive to wellbeing, and well employees do their best work.

Use Mid-Year Review Meetings to Highlight Wellbeing

Mid-year reviews can be a fantastic way to strengthen your team. They let you assess performance in non-threatening one-on-one settings. Through respectful back-and-forth, you can establish goals for the next six months and figure out how to help employees achieve them.

Mid-year reviews also give you segues into talking about employee wellbeing. You might learn employees aren't meeting standards because they're stressed, tired, or unfocused. People don't always reach out about issues like these, but a compassionate face-to-face conversation can go a long way. And when you can offer a solution like participation in a wellbeing program, that meeting goes even further — to higher productivity and better employee engagement.

Wellhub is a wellness program that exists to support employee wellbeing. Talk with a Wellbeing Specialist today to learn how we help you help them!

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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