How to prepare managers for mid-year performance reviews
By: Molly Carlton
When the mid-year performance review process rolls around you get two different reactions. If the review process has been clearly communicated, employees know what they need to deliver and have the tools to do so — the process is met with excitement. If there hasn’t been communication or a framework given for the performance evaluation process, it’s likely met with groans, anxiety and maybe even some annoyance.
In fact, most employees believe performance reviews are not effective at improving performance. Either way, it lands on managers to conduct the mid-year review process, but companies don’t always prepare their managers with adequate information and train them on an effective way to conduct the review.
The manager’s role in performance reviews
Managers play a critical role in organizations. They connect organizational goals and agendas to their team’s work and priorities and have a high influence on the overall employee experience. As a result, managers have been found to be one of the strongest drivers of employee well-being and engagement. However, the most common causes of burnout at work are work overload, pressure, lack of feedback and support from managers. If prepared correctly, managers can use the mid-year review as an important moment in their team’s employee experience, leading to greater employee retention.
First, let’s talk about how to measure performance. At Limeade, we define performance as the “what” plus the “how”. The “what” is the work you do, your responsibilities and goals and the “how” is how you do your work, living the values. Performance is the results you achieve.
What + How = Performance
Here’s a quick guide to preparing your managers for the mid-year review process so they feel confident, retain their top performers and set them up for end of year success.
5x more likely to feel like their organization cares
3x less likely to feel burned out
2x more likely to feel they have well-being in their life and are engaged in their work
Professional development happens before and outside of formal reviews. Below are four ways you can help managers prepare their employees before the review.
4 ways managers can help prepare employees before their performance reviews
Set clear, SMART goals that align to their team/company. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. This framework provides the criteria to help improve the chances of succeeding in accomplishing a goal.
Make sure they have time for weekly or bi-weekly 1:1 with their employees. This allows employees to communicate early and often instead of waiting until their performance review to speak up about roadblocks or misaligned work.
Help them focus on their well-being and encourage their employees to do the same. People perform their best when they feel their best. A manager who is running on an empty tank won’t be able to do what they need to support their employees. Implement a well-being solution that allows you to target managers with specific well-being activities and important company updates.
Have managers recommend their employees to set up a “brag” folder. Whenever they receive positive feedback, they can file it in the folder and access it quickly when it comes time for the performance review.
Then, when the mid-year review comes around, check out the three steps to take to prepare managers for the conversation.
3 steps to prepare managers in how to conduct effective performance reviews
Ensure managers understand the benefits of mid-year reviews
Performance reviews allow employees to connect their achievements to company OKRs and team goals
Provides the time to discuss the contributions and value they bring to the team
Gives employees the chance to discuss career development and personal growth
Dedicated time for an important check-in regarding performance, summarizing performance feedback from the last six months
Reconnects managers and employees on priorities to set clear expectations for the second half of the year
Equip managers with a clear outline of the timeline and process
Host an informational session and walk managers through the process
If there is no formal/automated process at your organization, provide questions for the employee and manager to fill out prior to the meeting and give them enough time to complete it
Set a timeline for when the evaluations should be completed, and the review should happen
Ensure managers book a mid-year review meeting and communicate to their employees that it is more formal than their weekly check-in
Help managers prepare for the conversation
Make sure they both send the document a few days beforehand so both manager and employee have enough time to digest it prior to the meeting
Encourage managers to use the evaluation as a guide but let them know the review itself is valuable face time (virtual or in person) where they can celebrate wins, discuss misalignment and engage in problem-solving and future planning.
What else can you do to develop great managers on an ongoing basis? Set up a manager ERG or regular round table to encourage learning and connections between managers at your organization. Providing this in their work environment gives them extra learning opportunities from other managers.
If the mid-year review is conducted in a positive way, employees will benefit from the chance to connect, celebrate progress, identify opportunities and collaboratively plan for the rest of the year. Not only will it fuel year-end results, but it will also improve the manager/employee relationship, boost engagement and enable more seamless and meaningful conversations in the future — making it a powerful employee retention tool fueling long term success.
Despite the pandemic, Gallup reports a sharp drop in the percentage of employees who strongly agree that their employer cares about their overall wellbeing. Check out this guide on how to reduce employee attrition with a well-being program.