As summer approaches, many of us will be having mid-year discussions. As I laid out in this post, your mid-year review is arguably the most important conversation of the year, because it sets the stage for your annual review. By the time your annual review rolls around, it’s too late to introduce the ask – instead, improve your chances of success by setting the stage now.
With a decade of research across hundreds of women in their workplace negotiations, here are our tips on making the most out of your midyear review:
- Determine your objective.
What do you want? That promotion? A big raise? More resources? A sabbatical? Permission to pursue your newest idea? A transfer to another office? Start with that in mind. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these success stories.
- Prepare ahead of time.
Before your mid-point review, take time to reflect on your performance over the past six months. What have you accomplished (quantify when possible)? What challenges have you faced that you may want to problem-solve together?
- Use a relational ask.
Research shows that women are significantly more successful AND virtually reduce the risk of backlash when we use a relational ask structure: Past Performance + Future Vision + Your Ask. You can read more about that approach here.
- Collaboratively create your rubric, with a plan.
Once you have made your ask, the goal of the mid-year review is typically to walk away with a very clear list of things you need to do to get a “yes” at the end of the year. Remember, this is for big asks that a manager typically would not (and often cannot) say yes to immediately. For example, your manager may need approval for your promotion, have to build your raise into his/her/their annual budget request, or get buy-in to allocate two new employees to your team.
While you’re co-creating this list, you may want to ask a few rounds of clarifying questions like: “what would that look like?” “Do you think improving X account by 15% would demonstrate that?” “Is there anyone else I need to convince?”.
If it’s not clear HOW you will achieve that goal, now is a good time to talk about that too. “You said I need to demonstrate that I can run a P+L. How can I show that?”
- Follow up, in two parts.
After your meeting, ensure you are on the same page (and that there is a paper trail) by emailing your manager the things you discussed (see this post for an email template). Then, every time you tick off one of those goals, send another email sharing the win.
What does this look like in practice?
You know you want that big promotion. For your mid-year review, you say, “As you know, in the first half of this year I’ve successfully liquidated 30% of last year’s inventory (past performance). I think we can clear out another 50% by the end of the year, 15% more than last year (future goal). In taking a step back to think about my career, I’m proud of what I’ve been able to contribute and would be excited to continue doing so at the Senior Manager level. Can you tell me what I would need to demonstrate to prove I’m ready for that opportunity at the next review cycle?”
Then together you build the list: hit that aggressive target, go through the company’s manager training program and manage an intern this fall. Maybe you’re not sure how to hire an intern, so your boss gives you the right person to talk with in HR.
Next, you send your summary note. Then, when you complete the manager training program you send another note, “Thanks again for sitting down with me this June to discuss how I can contribute even more to X company. I’m excited to share I just finished the manager training program, which was fantastic, and will make me a better manager this fall. I really appreciate your recommendation.”
Ideally, by the time the annual review rolls around, you’ve checked all the boxes, such that what’s going to happen in your annual review (your promotion!) becomes a foregone conclusion, one you’ve been moving your manager towards for 6 months or more, rather than the beginning of a conversation.
Your midyear review is an opportunity to collaborate with your manager on your growth and development, and lay the groundwork for a successful annual review. By approaching it as a precursor to that annual review, you can set yourself up for success in the second half of the year.