Performance Reviews

How to Prepare for Your Mid-Year Review

November 10, 2023
March 21, 2024
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
Lattice Team

Whether your company conducts them yearly, bi-annually, or at some other pace, performance reviews are a useful performance management tool.

After you wrap up the annual review process, you may start the new year feeling excited and ready to embrace your new goals. And while the buzz of a positive performance review can keep you motivated, your mid-year review might arrive before you know it.

Here’s how to prepare for your mid-year review to get the most out of this biannual process.

What is a mid-year review?

Mid-year reviews are performance evaluations that happen every six months, typically landing at the end of Q2. While an annual performance review — or year-end review — evaluates employee performance from the entire past year, a mid-year review is an opportunity to check in on goal progress and employee experience at the halfway point.

Because of their position in the review cycle, mid-year reviews can help employees ensure they’re on track to achieve their annual goals — or to set new goals if they’ve already exceeded expectations.

Cynthia Orduña, a California-based career and business coach, explained that mid-year reviews also provide a chance “to talk about everything you’ve been doing, highlight your accomplishments, and make sure you feel heard and valued.”

What happens in a mid-year review?

Mid-year reviews often take shape as a one-on-one conversation between manager and employee. While these reviews focus on goals, performance, and opportunities for growth just like annual appraisals do, companies often choose to make mid-year reviews less formal. That means employees and managers can discuss performance with a focus on development.

Through these performance conversations, managers can share actionable feedback to help employees perform their best. If a company utilizes 360-degree reviews, managers might also share constructive feedback from the employee’s coworkers, cross-functional colleagues, or direct reports in this setting.

5 Tips to Help Prepare for Your Mid-Year Review

Having a productive mid-year performance review requires thoughtful preparation — not just distractedly ticking off a few boxes on an evaluation worksheet and cramming a day or two before that one-on-one with your manager.

“Preparation for the mid-year review begins at the last review date,” said Samuel Tanios, founder and CEO of Human Elements Consulting. It helps to consider your last review, the goals you set, and how far you’ve come toward accomplishing them since that time. 

Here are five tips to help you prepare for your next mid-year evaluation so you can walk into your boss’s office with confidence.

1. Perform a self-evaluation.

Before your next performance review, start by performing a self-evaluation. By gathering specific examples of goals you’ve met, skills you’ve learned, and progress you’ve made since the last appraisal, you’ll be prepared to discuss your performance in your mid-year review. Your self-evaluation will also help you honestly assess potential areas for improvement so you’re not blindsided by constructive criticism your manager might share. 

Tim Toterhi, founder of career coaching business Plotline Leadership, suggested that employees think about how they would be rated if they had to rate themselves before they walk into the review. “If it’s less than great, then an employee should ask, ‘What do I need to do to be on target to hit greatness?’” he said. “It sets you up for success.” 


2. Go beyond the numbers.

As you prepare, you’ll want to review your previous evaluation to document your strengths and weaknesses and dive into the metrics to determine whether you’re on pace to meet your goals or still have some work to do. But remember that the human component is just as important as the quantitative metrics of success.

“If you’ve thought about only the questions they want answered, only the numbers, that is only going to reflect one dimension of self,” said Cole Baker-Bagwell, Master Certified Coach. “Anytime we have an opportunity to create conversations around those deeper and more meaningful dimensions, that’s what’s going to change the business we do together.”

To get beyond the numbers, Baker-Bagwell advised asking yourself the following questions: Who? What? Why?

  • In the past six months, who have you served, connected with, and inspired? 
  • Why do those efforts matter to the company, its culture, and its work? 
  • What did your contributions mean for the collective? 

The answers to these questions can help spark a dialogue with your supervisor that goes beyond quantitative performance metrics.

“Now you’re changing it into more of a conversation rather than just a presentation around numbers,” Baker-Bagwell said. “I know revenue and market share are important, but we can assume that if people are showing up for work [guided by these principles], the revenue is going to come, the partnerships are going to come, and the market share is going to be developed, too.”

3. Bring your questions.

As your manager articulates their mid-year performance review comments, listen to their feedback, but also be ready with questions about the best way to move forward.

“If you’re not sure what something means or they’re telling you that they’d like to see more of something, it’s incumbent upon you to say to your supervisor, ‘Please take me through this, so I understand exactly what your expectations are,’” Tanios said.

Goals, for example, may need to be adjusted because of changes in business strategy or pivots within a department. “A year is a really long time,” said Toterhi. “It’s an important time to check in with the manager and ask, ‘Are we still on the same path?’”


4. Be ready to talk about any weaknesses.

If things haven’t been going well for you, the mid-year review isn’t the time to gloss over your less-than-stellar performance. Maybe one of your goals for the year revolved around time management, but you’ve been procrastinating on big assignments as you get overwhelmed by small tasks. The mid-year review is a good time to talk about that with your manager.

“[If you] know you’re going to get a bad review, the first thing you need to do is take accountability and responsibility,” said Tanios. “Coming up with excuses or [saying you] shouldn’t be responsible for [something] is not what anybody wants here.”

Employees should come prepared with a plan to resolve any failings — whether it’s finding a mentor, taking a class, or seeking help from their supervisor when things go awry next time. Managers may bring a performance improvement plan of their own to guide next steps.

Dana Case, director of operations at online filing services company MyCorporation, said setbacks can happen for a variety of reasons. Projects might fail, or an employee might have a difficult few months, for example.

“If you’re not meeting your goals, maybe we can reevaluate and if, out of three, you can hit one or there’s one to focus on, we can go from there,” Case said. “It makes you feel better as an employee, and as a person, to not only show your leaders that you’re in it and trying, but that you’re also able to succeed.” 

5. Make preparation part of your routine.

While there is plenty of preparation to do in the weeks and days leading up to your mid-year review, it’s also wise to think about your job performance throughout the course of the year. Here are three things you can do year-round to be ready for your next evaluation.

  • Get real-time feedback. As you complete projects or make a presentation, ask managers for their thoughts when you wrap up the task. “A lot of people forget all the good work they’ve done throughout the year,” Toterhi said. “Ask for feedback in real time.” 
  • Always be documenting. Orduña recommended that employees keep a career journal to document successes and kind words from colleagues or clients. “Ideally, employees should always be documenting what they're doing in their role, what they're doing outside of their role, any projects they've taken on, and success metrics and achievements,” she said. 
  • Toot your own horn. Singing your own praises doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it’s important to do it even if you have to overcome some degree of discomfort. Occasionally asking your supervisor for tips to boost your performance or showing your interest in professional development goals can present opportunities to talk about your accomplishments. Sharing positive feedback you received with your manager after a client thanks you for your help on a complicated project is a more direct option. “That is a great way of tooting your own horn and not being a jerk about it,” Tanios said.

Benefits of Mid-Year Reviews

Performance review schedules differ across companies, but there are some key benefits of implementing mid-year reviews. Mid-year reviews allow employees and managers a chance to set goals and check in without having to wait a full year between performance conversations.

This biannual opportunity to observe changing priorities and adjust targets means feedback can be more timely than it is with yearly reviews — something employees have shown they want. Younger generations are especially keen to receive feedback regularly, according to a 2018 survey of 1,400 Gen Z individuals. The survey found that “63 percent of respondents prefer to receive timely constructive feedback throughout the year."

Mid-year reviews also serve as a natural opportunity to check in on career goals — something that should be happening year-round, too. That’s important because more frequent career development conversations are shown to improve employee engagement, which is key to reducing employee turnover. And, with the cost of replacing an employee estimated to be between one-half to two times that employee’s annual salary according to Gallup, reducing turnover can save companies money and keep top talent around longer.

Empower your mid-year review preparation with Lattice.

Mid-year reviews offer a place to land between annual appraisals, but it’s important to come prepared to make the most of these important conversations. Employees should use these reviews as opportunities to follow up with their managers on their annual goals, talk about their accomplishments, and glean advice for next steps. 

For teams to benefit most from mid-year reviews, managers should also prepare before these conversations. Need help preparing for and navigating reviews? Read our workbook Preparing for Performance Reviews as a First-Time Manager.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why are mid-year reviews important?

Mid-year reviews provide the opportunity for managers and employees to discuss performance and progress without waiting a full year between evaluations. Employees should leave mid-year appraisals knowing how they can improve their performance and with clear next steps. These reviews can help foster open dialogue between employees and their supervisors, which supports improved employee engagement and could reduce turnover.

What is the difference between a mid-year and year-end review?

Think of the mid-year review as a checkpoint, rather than a conclusive appraisal. Equipped with six months of data, managers and direct reports use the mid-year review to check in on goal progress and determine what’s working — and what isn’t. The meeting’s takeaways will then inform the next six months. On the other hand, annual reviews tend to be more backward-looking, serving as an appraisal of the last 12 months.

What should employees expect during the mid-year review meeting?

Remember, the mid-year review meeting is a conversation with your manager. Try to relax, accept their advice, and take ownership of your mistakes. This conversation should be an opportunity to share how you’re contributing to the team or business and also get feedback that will help you improve your performance. 

What should you do with your mid-year review results?

Your mid-year review results should inform your next steps, whether that means adjusting your goals, crafting a professional development plan, or something else. It can also be helpful to review your mid-year evaluation results before your next performance appraisal to see how far you’ve come.

How to Perform a Self-Evaluation

Struggling to start your self-assessment? Use the following tips from Lattice as a guide:

  • Identify how you really feel. Consider whether you’re feeling accomplished and confident in your work. Is there anywhere you know you’re not doing well?
  • Review your goals. Have you been meeting, exceeding, or falling short of the goals you made this year? What factors are affecting your progress?
  • Review your manager’s feedback. What did your manager praise at your last review, and has that been a strength again for you? Can you show that you have developed the areas they said needed improvement at your last performance review? Try to highlight ways you have acted on their feedback.
  • Review notes from peers and coworkers. Don’t be shy about including written praise you’ve received from team members. You can use peer feedback to round out the picture of your performance.

After considering those categories, you can begin writing a self-evaluation. Use your answers from the tips above to form a recap of your performance. You can also reference your job description to discuss how you’re fulfilling the core competencies of your role. Craft a self-evaluation that highlights opportunities for improvement as well as successes.

Potential Questions to Ask

  • What three action items should I prioritize in the coming year?
  • Are my goals still aligning with the responsibilities you need me to accomplish this year?
  • What would you like me to start, stop, and/or continue doing?
  • From your perspective, am I still on track to meet my career growth goals within the company?