With summer comes vacations, long, sunny days, and plenty of other distractions from work. While mid-year is a great time to take days off to recharge and gain perspective away from work, entrepreneurs and company leaders should also see it as a time to take stock of employee productivity and morale. One of the best ways to do this is by holding mid-year reviews.
The perception of mid-year reviews (or any reviews, for that matter) is split between those who think periodic review meetings motivate workers and those who think that the meetings waste time and lower morale. I belong to the former group. Measurable expectations and scheduled check-ins provide necessary structure and guidance for analytical and creative employees alike, and studies conducted by Gartner (formerly CEB) reveal that consistent, repeated performance feedback can boost employee performance by up to 12%.
Like year-end reviews, mid-year reviews should take longer than weekly or monthly one-to-one's and should focus on the measurable goals the employee and manager have set for the year. But while year-end reviews are a look back at what was accomplished and what wasn't, mid-year reviews serve as a chance to catch problems or change goals as needed, giving the employee a higher chance for success over the rest of the year. Here are a few topics to discuss in your mid-year reviews.
Mid-year reviews should be a mix of structured and unstructured conversation between managers and employees, with the structure coming from a list of clearly defined expectations established at the start of the year. The intent is not to micromanage or berate someone if a goal isn't met, but unmet goals are red flags for managers to explore the problem further during the review. Is that report consistently late because the employee has taken on too much? Has there been a drop in the quality of work because of a personal issue? Is the technology needed to do a job simply not there?
Before conducting an employee's mid-year review, make sure that there are quantifiable metrics to discuss (Ex: Revenue report due on the 25th of each month). At Greenleaf, we create scorecards with measurable outcomes at the end of Q4 and use them to guide reviews for the next year. Go through each metric with the employee to determine if progress is on track. If not, be willing to pause the conversation to explore the issue.
When conducting mid-year reviews, managers should always be looking for opportunities to ask how they can help the employee. If the employee seems hesitant to ask for help with anything, alter the question slightly to ask about what they'd like to see happen in the department or in the company, or about what they like and dislike most about their job. Chances are, the responses will unveil what the employee is struggling with most.
Oftentimes large-scale projects are launched in Q1, when energy and motivation are high and the year is a clean slate to work with. The best-case scenario is that projects are either completed or on track to be completed at mid-year. In reality, though, people may fail to meet deadlines, group tasks may be derailed due to miscommunication, or budget restraints may put progress on hold. The mid-year review is a necessary checkpoint to evaluate the state of a project and make necessary changes to the plan.
Much like an employee's performance scorecard, large-scale plans should include quantifiable goals. (Ex: New logo integrated in marketing materials by end of June.) If goals haven't been met, troubleshoot and adjust accordingly. If a task isn't being done because an employee doesn't manage time well, the manager may need to take extra steps to train the employee to manage time. If the issue is out of the manager or employee's control, like poor consumer reactions to a proposed product, the project itself may need to be rethought.
In addition to metrics and projects that benefit the company, a mid-year review should explore an employee's development goals. If a staff member is bored and restless, his or her manager should help figure out why and identify new tasks, or even new positions, that could be a good next step.
Set aside at least fifteen minutes in each mid-year review to talk to employees about what they want out of the job. Help them identify online courses or leadership training days that could help them grow their skillset, and identify strengths and weaknesses you see that help or hinder the employee's efforts.
Though it may be tempting to forego project-planning and metrics evaluation during long, lazy summer days, it's important to make sure that employees and initiatives are holding strong halfway through the year. By scheduling mid-year check-ins with specific goals to review, you'll be able to determine the direction of your company for the rest of the year.