5 Questions to Get the Most Out of Your Midyear Review

How to get more than basic platitudes and suggestions out of the upcoming chat with the boss. 

During midyear reviews, you’ll likely prepare a brief self-assessment of your goals—what you’ve accomplished so far, and what you expect to achieve by year’s end. A midyear review also offers you an opportunity to ask your manager questions that will help you delve into what you need to achieve this year, particularly if you’re hoping for a year-end promotion or a raise.

“The questions you ask could be career defining and could make the midyear review meaningful,” says Dan Kaplan, senior client partner for Korn Ferry's CHRO practice. Here are five questions to ask your manager:

How can I give you more visibility into my performance?

With many employees continuing to work remotely at least part of the time, managers often aren’t able to see what their direct reports are doing on a day-to-day basis, says Nathan Blain, Korn Ferry’s global lead for optimizing people costs. If you’re working remotely or on a hybrid schedule, you should ask how you can best provide opportunities for your manager to observe your work. For instance, perhaps your manager would like to be invited to attend a meeting with colleagues or a client.

What am I doing that you would like to see more of or less of?

Instead of asking your manager what your strengths and weaknesses are, Korn Ferry Advance coach Rasha Accad suggests asking, “What should I do more of?” (to learn where you’re having a positive impact) and “What am I focusing on too much?” (to learn where you can improve). “The answers will help you decide where to put your energy over the next six months,” she says.

Are my goals still aligned with the company’s business goals?

Most employees set goals in late December or early January. But by June, some of those goals may no longer be relevant, Blain says. “Employees need to find out if they should course correct,” he says.

Sometimes a goal set a year or two ago becomes unattainable—not because of our talents or abilities, but because of limitations that are out of our control. Sometimes it’s simply that the organization no longer values that particular goal. Rather than wasting energy fighting an uphill battle, Accad recommends asking your manager, “What are some things I don’t have control over that I need to accept?” The answer might lead you to update your goal, she says.

What am I not doing well enough?

If you’re hoping for a year-end promotion, ask your manager what you should focus on over the next six months to move to the next level, Kaplan says. Most managers don’t give enough in-the-moment feedback during the course of the year, so he recommends asking, “What feedback do you wish you’d given me earlier this year?”

“Assume your manager won’t be fully comfortable giving you that feedback, so be direct in your questioning,” he says. “Tell your manager, ‘I’m invested in being a top performer, and I really want to learn from you so please tell me what three areas I should focus on to move to the next level.’”

What do I need to do to get promoted next year?

Many employees fall into the trap of believing that if they reach all their targets, they will automatically get a promotion or a raise. But the bar is often much higher—you’ll need to exceed your goals, not just meet them, Accad says. Get a clear sense from your manager of whether meeting your objectives will be enough for you to move to the next level, or if you need to do more.