Midyear review season is upon us and it is a time for reflection. A time to look back over the past six months at all that you have accomplished. Or, in my case, wonder what they hell just happened and how am I going to spin this. I mean, it was just January, right? I swear I have been busy and done work-stuff.
For many people, the midyear review and associated self-reflection activities are meant as a check-up on whether you are on track to achieving your objectives, or when it’s blatantly obvious that things are heading in the other direction, giving you the don’t steal.
However, for those people (I am not naming names, but I have a friend…) who may have a tendency to
procrastinate excel at the last-minute, midyear reviews may feel a little contrived.
I have a 17-year son. We don’t see him too often outside of meal times, unpacking of grocery times, or I need you to sign this paper times. As such, I have a habit of popping my head into his room to say hello an ask him if “everything is okay”.
I am pretty confident that the look on his face after I have done this 3-4 times in an evening is the essence of what a midyear review is to a procrastinator. It’s the “are you serious – nothing has changed since you asked me 30 minutes ago”. (Which in work terms would be: “are you serious – you just asked me about this 3 months ago…nothing has changed”)
(For the record, my son looks more like Ron than Hermione. If he knew I was writing about him, I am certain that he would want me to clarify that. The face though…spot on.)
I am not hacking on midyear reviews. Well, okay maybe I am. Let me start that again…I am not hacking on the intent of midyear reviews, I’m pointing out that the way they are done may be lacking.
However, if your midyear check-in consists of referring to all of the agreed upon performance objectives, updating the status of each of the aforementioned performance objectives, making modifications to any of the performance objectives (because we know that happens), or adding in new performance objectives (because we know that also happens), then I believe this is the only tool you will need:
On the plus side, using the Acme Checklist will result in your meetings being much shorter and you can even use a different coloured marker for each employees.
So what do you do if you know you have someone on your team that may be a bit more flexible with timelines or if you happen to be that person for whom the 11th hour is a real and legitimate target.
First of all, skip the checklist – it will be useless, frustrating and the employee will feel compelled to compensate for the lack of tangible deliverables with creative, if not entertaining, explanations of work-stuff. (Or so I have been told).
Next, listen and talk , in whichever order is most appropriate given which chair you are sitting in.
Talk about what has been going on, what have you been doing, who have you been working with and on what. What are you enjoying? What are you avoiding because you don’t like it? What do you wish you could work on? What would you like to learn and why? What stands out from the past few months? What do you need over the next few months to do what you need to?
And then listen. Listen to what others are saying about your work? About who appreciates working with you and why? What are the things you should consider in the upcoming months? What are the things that you need to do or stop doing to avoid irritating/ alienating/ isolating/ your peers or clients? What are some things that you might not have considered for potential projects or development? What are the expectations by year-end (or perhaps sooner)? Are you heading in the right direction? If not, what do you need to be heading in the right direction?
There is no template for this kind of meeting. There are no specific boxes to check-off. The meeting may not be quick and should spill over into further conversations, some of which may be difficult.
It will however provide you with a better sense of how your employee is doing rather than what they have done.
I mean, don’t sweat it, there are still 5 more months to go in 2017…plenty of time to get that thing done.