If you’re like most entrepreneurs, the thought of formal midyear reviews hasn’t quite crossed your mind. You’re just so busy getting it all done. There’s no big HR department running the show. You know feedback is important, but your company is still small and you feel like you talk to your team all the time.
Many entrepreneurs just settle for a quick touching base or nothing at all.
Don’t overlook the benefits of a quality midyear check-in with members of your team. No great coach would forgo the opportunity for a motivating half-time huddle. Imagine if the coach provided this insight:
“Well they played a great first half. There's no need to say much.”
Or this: “Guys, just keep doing what you’re doing. We’re really too busy with all this excitement.”
Such scenarios are highly unlikely. The coach speaks at halftime and the players listen. You should follow suit.
Even if you have only a few employees, don’t waste this midyear opportunity to review employees' performance and challenge and inspire them as well as celebrate some.
Ask provocative questions. Listen more than you talk. Here are a few questions that will encourage genuine dialogue:
What new relationships have you fostered?
How are you different now from how you were six months ago?
Where are you stuck?
What patterns do you see?
What habits would you like to change?
What additional resources do you need?
What would it look like if ... ?
How can I best support you?
Be prepared to have the tables turned and then have to answer these questions yourself. In fact, you may even want to offer to start, to model the transparency.
Offer candor without surprises. Employees deserve to know where they stand and why. Provide specific examples of what’s working and how the person can improve. Anything you put in writing should flow from previous conversations. If you have new feedback to introduce, say it verbally and revisit the progress made before the end of the year.
Recognize success. You’ve been moving fast. Take time to really consider employees' contributions and to offer a sincere thank-you for their part in this important journey. Even if you think they already know this, stop and say it out loud. It’s like having chicken soup. There’s no way a good “wow” can hurt.
Go deeper. I’m surprised by how many business owners are so busy building their business that they miss the opportunity to truly capture the hearts and minds of the employees helping them with this growth. You take risks in your business. Take a chance in going a bit deeper in getting to know your employees.
Ask about their hopes and dreams. Share yours.
Find out what really motivates them. Tell them what drives you.
Learn what else is an important concern in their lives. Their family? A sick parent? Volunteer activities? Their health?
Of course you can’t do all this in one sitting. And if you’ve never asked such questions before, you have to start this process gently. Perhaps it’s best to tackle this part of the conversation during a walk or while driving to your next meeting. But do invest the time.
How have strong midyear check-ins helped your company?