My Dad Rarely Brushed His Teeth.

It’s more than an awkward headline. It’s the way I see many people conduct mid-year (and even annual) reviews.

Let’s just say that my father may not have been as diligent about oral hygiene as he could have been. He would go months without brushing his teeth until a few days before his dental cleaning appointment. Then, he’d suddenly become an oral advocate and brush his teeth several times a day. He believed that he was able to disguise the fact that he’d been neglecting his teeth for months with a few days of intensive scrubbing, but the dentist always knew. I mean really; how could he not? And unfortunately, as savvy as my father thought he was, he always required dental work after the cleaning. In other words, his approach of recency didn’t work.

I see people approach reviews in the same way where it becomes a review of recency as opposed to a review over the last several months (or even year). This also illustrates recency bias during these types of conversations.

Whether you’re being reviewed or facilitating the review, be sure to take into account total performance. If you’re looking to conduct a mid-year review, then be sure to account for the past 5-7 months depending on the duration of performance you’re discussing. You can acknowledge how issues or challenges six months ago have been addressed and improved but don’t exclude them because they are not as relevant or recent. Address it, discuss it, and acknowledge it. You can even state that you realize some examples or areas are from months ago, but then include them in the conversation. It still has an impact. This will demonstrate a more comprehensive approach to the discussion. In addition, it also demonstrates that you’re tracking progress over time and are invested in total performance.

Go back through your notes over the last six months, review project plans and updates for the entire duration of the review, and include examples and discussion points from the entire review period as opposed to what you can remember most recently.

I will always remember taking my father to the dentist and thinking, “Should I tell the hygienist he really doesn’t need another take-home bag with toothpaste, floss, and toothbrush or just let my father continue to think he’s fooling them?” You aren’t “fooling” anyone with a review of recency, and the stakes are too important if you do.