It is hard to believe that we are nearing the end of 2023. At this time of year, employees tend to run out of steam and turn their focus to winding down and preparing for the festive season. There is no question that there should be time for employees to take a breath, but December is also the perfect time to reflect and review performance goals.

Many organisations run their performance cycle from 1 July – 30 June; so December is the time where employees are asked to complete their mid-year review reflection in preparation for the performance discussion. Some workers live for this moment as they have a carefully curated spreadsheet of weekly achievements to transfer across – while others are sent into a panic as they have been too ‘busy’ to even remember the goals that they have kicked.

Employees are responsible for their own performance; however leaders play a critical role in supporting and guiding their team members to success. The mid-year review is a valuable opportunity for managers and employees to discuss goals, aspirations, progress, hurdles and development needs. Unfortunately, many employees neglect or dread the process and they miss out on a chance to jointly celebrate success and tweak the plan to ensure that the second half of the performance year remains on track.  

What is the mid-year review?

The mid-year review is a performance review that is conducted by leaders with their employees. It typically occurs close to the end of the second quarter and provides an opportunity for managers to assess their employees’ progress and goals.

When done well, a mid-year review is a consultative, mutually respectful and relaxed one-on-one conversation that provides balanced, useful and actionable feedback to employees so they understand where they are at and where they need to be. It can also include a formal evaluation as well as self-assessments from employees.

The purpose of the mid-year review is ‘take stock’ half way through the performance cycle. It is a prime opportunity for the leader to reinforce behaviours and actions they want to see more of and to provide constructive feedback on where the employee needs to place their attention.

5 Key benefits of Mid-Year Reviews

Mid-year reviews can take time and become labour intensive, but the return on investment is there for both employees and organisations that are prepared to put in the effort. The following are 5 of the key benefits:

1. Opportunity to build the employee relationship

Research shows that employees value an authentic relationship with their leader. Of course, mid-year reviews do not take the place of the regular one-on-one’s, however they do provide a great opportunity to have a more formal discussion about the things that matter most. Mid-year reviews give employees the chance to take stock and share with their manager what is working and where they need obstacles removed. Leaders can also share what they feel has been a great success and where there are opportunities.

2. A chance to reset and reframe

Organisations are operating in a more agile world than ever before and things can and do change. A mid-year review is the prime time to readjust goals and even stretch them where things are tracking better than expected. A mid-year review is a chance to recalibrate and remember the core priorities and where the effort is best being spent. An honest and open conversation at this point keeps the employee on track and gives the leader confidence that they have played their support role well.

3. Time to build trust and respect

There is nothing like performance review time to make or break the trust and respect between the leader and the employee. A mid-year review is the perfect time for both parties to be vulnerable and honest. It is important to remember that they are also not one way. Employees should be encouraged to share any red flags that have been obstacles in goal achievement so that leaders are well positioned to step in and help to clear the road to success. Employers can access our ’10 Leadership tips to conduct effective Mid-Year Reviews’ for some key tips.

4. Identify issues and reduce turnover

One of the benefits of the mid-year review process is key issues can be identified and worked through before they become a deal breaker. Many employees feel that the mid-year review process is the perfect opportunity to share their grievances which ultimately becomes valuable feedback for the leader. Most importantly, if the leader can demonstrate that they have heard and are prepared to act on the employee’s issues; they will have taken a positive and timely step to retain talent in the business.

5. Improve engagement

There is no question that when employees feel valued, heard and empowered; there is a direct and positive link to engagement and culture. Mid-year reviews should not be seen as a one way directive, but rather a consultative and mutually beneficial discussion that positions the employee for success and the ultimately improves the organisation’s bottom line.

So, what can leaders do to help to make the mid-year review productive and positive?

Leaders are encouraged to consider that the work that they put into preparing for the review and for approaching it with a partnership mindset will reap great rewards. Here are some tips to a positive and productive mid-year review process:

  • Be clear about time frames. No one likes to be told that their mid-year review will be “sometime this afternoon”. Employees need adequate warning to give themselves time to reflect and prepare.
  • Both parties need to review the goals previous evaluation. Suggest to employees to reflect on their goals and consider their achievements to date as well as key data, obstacles and opportunities for improvement. Encourage honest reflections but ensure that the journey as well as the destination are celebrated.
  • Adjust the goals as needed. The mid-year review is a good time to revisit the goals and see if they are still relevant, realistic, and aligned with the company’s priorities. Agile businesses regularly change goals to reflect current and future business needs. Employers can learn more about agile performance management here.
  • Provide actionable feedback. Give employees specific, balance and constructive feedback on their performance. Don’t be critical and instead look for ways to enhance their potential and performance. Use data and other performance metrics to share specific areas of success.
  • Encourage a consultative discussion. The mid-year review should not be a one-way discussion, but rather a healthy, consultative and respectful conversation. Ensure employees are given a safe space to ask questions, provide feedback and talk about anything that is currently ‘pushing’ them from their position. Now is the time to listen and then to act.

Employers can access some further tips here.

All employees benefit from a robust and well-intended review

The goal of the mid-year review is to foster open and honest communication and to recommend changes before the more detailed and final end-of-year review. There is no doubt that some employees love them and others run for the hills, but the common denominator is that all employees benefit from a robust and well-intended discussion that details success, identifies hurdles and adjusts the goal posts to ensure that the employee is working in harmony with the organisation’s objectives.

Further information

Members can access our comprehensive Optimising and Managing Performance section for a range of tools and resources to support leaders through this process.Employers may also access 'Leadership FAQs on the Mid-Year Review'. 

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Georgina Pacor

Georgina is Senior HR Content Editor – Publications at Ai Group. She is an accomplished Human Resource professional with over 25 years of generalist and leadership experience in a broad range of industries including financial services, tourism, travel, government and agriculture. She has successfully advised and partnered with senior leaders to implement people and performance initiatives that align to business strategy. Georgina is committed to utilising her experience to create resources that educate and engage and is passionate about supporting members to optimise an inclusive workforce culture that drives performance.