Successful mid year appraisals for the first time manager
While there are many employers slowly moving towards a continuous coaching model of performance management, many employers still hold formal reviews, usually bi-annually.
Why do mid-year performance reviews?
As a new manager you might be dreading conducting your first mid year performance reviews. So it’s a good idea to remember the purpose behind all employee appraisals: improvement. Employees need regular, structured feedback to continue to improve and perform at their best.
Providing one-to-one feedback to your team members is a crucial leadership activity. Employees rely on their managers’ evaluations as a factor for job satisfaction and career progression. They need to know where they stand, to be aware of their blind spots and be given the opportunity to develop. This is also a chance to demonstrate that you’re invested in their success…. their success, after all, is your success.
However, these biannual review processes tend to create some tension and friction amongst employees, that as a manager, you will want to be aware of and prepared to address.
I remember my first mid-year review when I became a manager. There was this new pressure to evaluate someone else while at the same time still trying to get to know their workstyle, their interests, and career objectives. On top of that was a desire to balance building the relationship while also having to be the one to deliver what could be some stark or direct feedback in certain instances. It seemed like I had just gotten promoted, and it was time for mid-years!
Tips to prepare for mid-year performance reviews
What can you do as a first time manager, to get off to a smooth start and set a precedent going forward?
Tip #1 – Give yourself enough preparation time
Great managers do not do mid-year reviews off the cuff. They give themselves enough time to review the employee’s progress and create constructive feedback. So, depending on the size of your team, you’re going to need a certain amount of time to prepare.
Booking the review meetings with plenty of time in advance also gives the employee time to evaluate their own progress. Identify a few key questions for the employee to create a self assessment of their performance over the last 6 months.
Tip #2 – Assess from different points-of-view
Employees rely on their managers to be direct and clear about how well they’re doing. Sometimes, however, self-perception of past performance doesn’t match up with reality and this is where preparation is crucial.
Taking into account the following 3 perspectives will give you a well-rounded view of the employee’s performance and what gaps or issues are most urgent to address.
Read through previous review documentation
Firstly, take the time to review the employees’ goals and any notes and outcomes you have on their progress towards those goals.
Get feedback from peers
It’s customary to seek feedback from one or two other employees to evaluate their effectiveness from the team’s point of view.
Get input from the employee themselves
Prior to the meeting block out time to review material prior to your meeting with the employee as well as time to document the discussion and draft any formal written review after.
Tip #3 – Prepare powerful questions
At this point, you may be asking, “what do I do when I’m actually in the performance review discussion?”
Here you’ll ask powerful questions and then… listen.
Questions about the past
Start with asking the employee to recap the first part of the year by asking them:
- What worked well
- What didn’t work well, and
- What would they do differently
This opens the door for the employee to share their perspective and helps create a safe space to talk.
Most employees are feeling fairly good about their progress come mid-year, especially if they’ve not been having regular discussions and feedback from their manager.
During your preparation, you might consider how you would address these three questions from your employees; “How great am I doing?” “What do I need to get promoted?” and “What do I need to get an ‘exceptional’ rating?”
Questions about the future
Future oriented questions can help you find out what aspects of their work they like, i.e., what motivates them. A powerful future-orientated question would be:
“What are you most excited about in the coming months?”
Employees expect you to be supportive of their future performance, so lastly, you can ask the employee what they require to exceed their goals and objectives.
As the manager, you can then assess whether the considerations are reasonable based on all the other priorities and you can determine whether the employee’s goals and objectives need to be adjusted.
Preparation is key for mid-year performance reviews
Adequate preparation leads to an authentic conversation where you and the employee come out having been heard and aligning the employee’s goals with those of the organization.
Download a Performance Review Checklist
Make sure you’re fully prepared and confident to deliver your performance reviews with this handy Performance Review Checklist. You will thank yourself afterwards.
And remember, these are important conversations so be sure to address your own self-care; get rest, hydrate, and eat well. Last thing you want is to go into a performance review feeling hangry!