Mid-year is a great time to review your progress toward your goals for the year and assess what you need to do to finish strong.
Maybe your organization has a formal mid-year review process where your manager gives you feedback. Perhaps you do this on your own.
Either way, don’t make the mistake most people make: letting it all stop there.
What most people don’t do is take mid-year as an opportunity to reach out to their sponsors, mentors and other key stakeholders to touch base, connect and have a strategic conversation about how things are going.
Think of this as a “reverse” mid-year review
Just as mentoring is usually a more senior person advising a junior and reverse mentoring is the opposite, a mid-year review is usually given to you by your manager while a reverse mid-year review is where you proactively bring your review to others.
Specifically, to the people who have a say in how your career progresses, your promotion prospects, the projects you get staffed on, your compensation and access to resources. And that’s likely to be a broader group than just your manager.
This doesn’t mean sharing all the gory details of the feedback you’ve gotten in your formal mid-year review, but rather the strategic version you choose to share in a business-like manner.
Your “reverse” mid-year review is a golden opportunity
By initiating these strategic conversations with the stakeholders who matter most in your professional life, you’re achieving three important goals.
1. Building trusted relationships
When you keep people updated on your progress and aspirations, they’re more likely to feel part of your team and that they have a stake in your progress.
And if your update includes what you’ve accomplished based on their guidance and support, they’ll be more inclined to double down on that support and have more confidence in backing you. In essence, you strengthen the relationship. It’s like hearing a story, and every time you meet with them, it’s another chapter or episode. And they’ll want to hear more of the story unfold.
2. Getting senior-level advice
It’s especially valuable to get guidance while there’s still time for mid-course correction. For example, things may have changed since the start of the year whether that’s in the market, the economy, the organization, or your projects.
What was a priority in January may no longer be one by the end of the year, and your sponsors and mentors may be in the best position to clue you in.
3. Advocating for yourself in a natural way
After all, you’re simply sharing where things stand at mid-year, including what you’ve accomplished, and what you expect to focus on in the second half.
The latter could include setting yourself up for the next promotion, closing a big client deal, or anything else that senior stakeholders might be able to help with or give advice on if they only knew about it early enough.
So what do you include in your “reverse” mid-year review?
Here are five elements that will serve you well in your conversation, even if it’s the first time you’re speaking with a senior stakeholder.
And if you have an existing relationship, you can mix and match the order in which you cover these based on the conversations you’ve already had.
A simple way to start is with a succinct update on what you’ve achieved so far this year and how it links back to your organization’s objectives.
Focus on how you’re adding value, not just how hard you’re working. Talk about your achievements with your audience in mind – what does this senior stakeholder care about and how has your work contributed to that?
Then you’ll want to remind them of your aspirations, whether that’s growing your responsibilities, positioning yourself for a big promotion or expanding the company’s presence globally.
This sets the context for the next topic, which is getting their input.
Having given your senior stakeholder the review of how far you’ve come and where you want to head, you can naturally ask for any advice they have for hitting your targets and making the most of the second half of the year.
As part of this, it’s fair game to talk about the challenges and opportunities you see ahead and get their input on how best to navigate them.
If it hasn’t come up already, make sure you express gratitude for their support. Be specific if you can.
Like thanking your sponsor for giving you the opportunity to present at the Executive Committee meeting or recommending you for a stretch assignment. And if it’s something you’d like to do more of, you can add that too.
5. Add value
Thanking your senior stakeholders is a perfect lead-in to talking about what their priorities are and how you can support them in achieving their goals.
As part of this, you’ll also learn what’s on their minds so even if there’s no obvious way you can help at the moment, you’ll be able to keep their priorities in mind and look for ways to add value going forward.
But what if there’s no formal mid-year review process in your organization?
Whether or not there’s a formal mid-year review process, you can still do your own reverse mid-year review.
Your reverse mid-year review doesn’t have to be formal. And often, the less formal the better. Think of it as an opportunity to self-assess where things stand and have a series of “catch up” conversations. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
What matters is that you do it.
Frame it as a business conversation and your stakeholders will be happy to talk to you
For example, set the stage by saying,
“I’ve been looking at our unit’s goals for the year and want to make sure I’m contributing to them in the highest impact way I can. I’d like to come share with you our progress in the first half and where we should direct our energies heading into the second half.”
When you have the conversation, remember to cover the following:
- Update them on your achievements so far
- Remind them of your broader aspirations
- Get their advice on any challenges and opportunities
- Express appreciation for their support
- Find out what their priorities are and learn how you can add value
Who do you want to have your reverse mid-year review with and what’s the first step you can take to make it happen?
Leave a comment and let me know.