Cancel the Mid-Year Review


Review-timeCongratulations! You’ve officially survived the first half of this wacky year. Take a moment to reflect on everything you’ve learned along the way as you overcame countless unexpected challenges. While we all hope the remainder of this year will be better than the first half, if 2020 has taught us anything it’s to expect the unexpected.

As much as we’d all like to return to some degree of normalcy soon, there are some important activities we should consider replacing. On the top of that list is the mid-year review.

A well-executed mid-year review has been an important part of the performance management process. It’s an opportunity to track engagement, recognize improvement, establish expectations, address performance problems, and ensure alignment towards the future. It’s also an opportunity to engage employees around the organization’s vision.

While each of those are still important activities, the meeting should not follow the same design as the the usual mid-year review.

Instead, consider replacing the term “review“ with “check-in.” It’s a subtle, but important change that will reframe the entire conversation. Realistically, you can’t have a normal performance review right now anyway. There are very few roles/industries that weren’t turned upside down through stay-at-home orders, so all performance goals must be adjusted or evaluated in that context. If anything, instead of evaluating the performance to goal, there should be an evaluation of what performance is realistic for the remainder of the year. Throw the goals away and start over.

Performance evaluations aside, the time would be better spent checking in on your employee’s well-being and engagement. You cannot expect your employees to perform at their peak when they’re struggling with the emotional toll the year has taken on them. Discuss how the transition to remote-work went for them. If applicable, discuss the impact returning to the office will have on them. Check in on their stress level and remind them of any resources available to them such as an EAP benefit.

The best use of the time is just to listen. Hear your employees’ concerns, ask them what’s going well, and what the organization can do to support them more effectively. An engaged, supported employee is far more likely to succeed during uncertain times than one who is being reviewed against outdated performance expectations.