Create a Best-Self Review® cycle

This article walks through the steps of creating a Best-Self Review® cycle. You can leave the setup process at any step— your draft is saved after you give it a name, and you can access it at any time on the Best-Self Review® dashboard.

In this article, you will learn...

Access and availability

⛔️ Required access to Best-Self Review® and feature settings.
👥 This article is relevant to Review admins.
📦 This feature is available in the Perform and Total Platform pricing packages.

Are you more of a visual learner? Check out this video ⬇️

Pre-launch considerations and recommendations

In preparation for rolling out Best-Self Review® at your organization, consider the following:

Who should be included/excluded in your upcoming review cycle?

When creating a review cycle, you can choose to include or exclude any employee, group, or account status (active, invited, and created). You can also limit participation by hire date.


In addition, if there are groups or individuals you don't want to be participants or write reviews in review cycles, you can globally exclude them.

Which review types do you plan to use?
You can choose to include any combination of Self, Manager, Peer, and/or Upward reviews in a review cycle. Review-Types.png
Which review tools do you plan to utilize?

15Five offers various tools that you can use to create a more robust and equitable review cycle, including:

  • Performance Ratings+: With 15Five's Performance Ratings+ tool in Best-Self Review®, you can automate numerical scores for participants in the review cycle. This is done using a custom formula that combines aggregate scores from self and/or manager review answers. Performance Ratings+ can also be pulled into the HR Outcomes Dashboard to measure employee performance.
  • Competencies: Competencies are demonstrable and measurable clusters of knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes that an employee needs to perform their work functions successfully. There is an optional 'Competencies' questions section that you can include in review cycles that allows review authors to rate how the person they're reviewing demonstrates specific company-wide or group competencies.
  • Company valuesCompany values are the guiding principles and beliefs that shape the culture, decision-making, and behavior of an organization. They are the foundation on which a company's mission and vision are built, and they represent what the organization stands for and what it aspires to be. There is an optional 'Company values' questions section that you can include in review cycles that allows review authors to rate how the person they're reviewing lives out company values.
  • ObjectivesReview admins can add objectives to Best-Self Review® question templates to allow participants to assess, track, and directly connect objective data to overall performance while filling out reviews.
  • CalibrationsCalibrations enable People Ops and HR leaders to visualize the distribution of review ratings across different managers and easily adjust those ratings in real time— ensuring that reviews are being done in a fair and unbiased way across teams.
What levels of visibility work best for your organization?
  • Who should have access to employee review results? 
  • Do any of your employees require additional managers and/or review viewers?  
  • When utilizing peer and/or upward reviews, determine the level of visibility the participants should have.

Read more in our "Visibility settings for Best-Self Review®" article.

What review cycle cadence and timeline do you want to use?
During review cycle creation, you will be asked to provide state/end and review due dates (we call them milestones). Check out our best practices for Best-Self Review® timelines.

You'll also be asked to select whether you want the review cycle to repeat on a quarterly or bi-annual basis.

Create a review cycle



Before you begin the process of creating a review cycle, make sure that you've completed the tasks laid out in the 'Before the cycle begins: set the stage' section of our "Best-Self Review® for review admins" Help Center article.

  1. Click on Best-Self Review® in 15Five's main, left-hand navigation.
  2. You will land on the 'Review cycles' page. Click Create a new review cycle in the top, right-hand corner of the page.
    If you'd prefer to clone an existing review cycle and make changes to it, click ... to the right of that review cycle and select 'Clone review cycle' from the dropdown menu.
  3. Select a review cycle name. On the "Review name" page, enter the name you'd like to use for the new cycle. Be specific when choosing a name so that you can easily find it later (e.g. "Q1 2022 Company-wide Review").
  4. Select review types. On the "Review type" page, select the types of reviews you'd like to include in your review cycle.
    Create-Cycle-Select-Review-Type.pngYou can include any of the following review types in a review cycle: Self review, Manager review, Peer review, and Upward review.

    If you choose to hold a manager-only review cycle,

    You have the option to hide the review cycle from participants. Selecting this option means that the people who are being reviewed by their managers will not see the review cycle in 15Five, will not be able to access any data related to the review cycle, and will not receive notifications.

    If you check the box next to "Hide this review cycle from participants," peer reviews will be manager initiated, meaning that managers will be responsible for nominating peers to write peer reviews about their direct reports.

    If you choose to include peer reviews in your review cycle
    You will be asked to choose between participant initiated (default) and peer initiated peer reviews.
    If you want to hold a peer-only review cycle
    Check out our "Hold a peer-only review cycle" Help Center article for more information.
  5. Appoint cycle collaborators. On the "Cycle collaborator" page, select people to serve as cycle collaborators to help run the review cycle.
  6. Select review milestones. Next, enter your review cycle milestones (i.e. due dates) on the "Review milestones" page. Our recommendation is that you run your review cycle for a period of no longer than 4 weeks. If milestones change during the course of your review cycle, it's okay— review milestones can be changed during an active review cycle.


    Though you are required to set a review cycle end date, the cycle will stay open for review submissions until a review admin or cycle collaborator manually locks the cycle.

  7. [Optional] Enable calibration sessions and select a due-by date. Assuming that manager reviews are included in your review cycle, the review cycle milestones page is also where you can add calibration sessions to your review cycle. The 'Calibration due by' milestone should fall after the 'Manager reviews due by' date and before the 'Start sharing on' date. Read more about calibrations.
  8. Set Share & Finalize milestones. 'Share and finalize reviews' milestones are the dates between which managers share review cycle results with their direct reports and finalize review cycle results. Essentially, managers cannot share reviews until a certain date, eliminating the issue of sharing reviews too soon and allowing for calibration sessions to be held and locked before results are shared.
  9. Select whether or not you want the review to repeat. Choose whether this is a one-time review or if you want to repeat the review quarterly or semi-annually. If needed, this setting can be updated at a later time.


    When setting up a review to Repeat quarterly or Repeat bi-annually, the review will launch on the same day as you created it 3 or 6 months in the future (for example, today's date + 3 months for quarterly, or today's date + 6 months for semi-annually). Review admins will need to approve the cycle in order for it to begin again. An email will be sent to review admins 7 days prior to the upcoming start date and ask them to confirm the cycle.

  10. Select review cycle participants. Decide who will participate in the review cycle on the "Review participants" page. Only review cycle participants will have reviews written about them. People who are not participants will not have reviews written about them, but may still be asked to write manager, upward, and/or peer reviews about someone who is a participant.
    If you select 'All active, invited, and created users'

    This option allows you to include all individuals in your organization— whether they are active in 15Five yet or not. This option is especially helpful if you are in the process of rolling out 15Five and want to begin with a review cycle. Read more about active, invited, and created statues in our "'Manage people' page: Active, Inactive, and Deactivated" Help Center article.

    If you select 'All active users'
    This option means that all individuals whose accounts are active at the time of review cycle creation will be included in the review cycle.
    If you select 'Everyone, except some people or groups'

    Selecting this option means that all active, created, and invited individuals will be included as participants in the review cycle, except selected individuals or group members.
    Cycle-specific excluded groups or individuals will not be asked to complete a self-review but can be nominated as a peer or asked to write upward or manager reviews (if their manager or direct reports are participants in the review cycle, respectively). If needed, these excluded people can be added as cycle participants at a later time by following the steps in our "Add or remove a review cycle participant" Help Center article. If you don't want a person to be included as a participant in the review cycle, and you don't want them to be responsible for writing any reviews, you should globally exclude them in Best-Self Review® feature settings.

    If you select 'Only specific people or groups'
    You can choose to only include certain people or groups if listing inclusions is easier than listing exclusions. This is helpful when only a small group of people are participants in the cycle, like a cycle for 'Leadership Team' only.
  11. Configure objective review options. Decide whether or not you want to include Objectives in the review cycle, and what types of objectives to include. Read more about including objectives in your review cycle.
  12. Apply question templates. Select which question templates you would like to be used for each type of review. The template options will include all of 15Five's default templates as well as any custom templates review admins in your organization have created. To preview the template, click View.


    15Five's default templates are science-backed and cover all aspects of best-self management. Check out the 15Five default templates in-app to see what questions are asked.

  13. Decide whether or not you want to include Performance Ratings+ in your review cycle and select desired settings. With 15Five's Performance Ratings+ tool in Best-Self Review®, you can automate numerical scores for participants in the review cycle. This is done using a custom formula that combines aggregate scores from self and/or manager review answers. Performance Ratings+ can also be pulled into the HR Outcomes Dashboard to measure employee performance. If you choose to include Performance Ratings+ in your review cycle, you will be asked to select the ratings formula and rubric you created. You'll also be asked to select visibility and whether or not you want additional manager reviews to be included in the ratings calculation. 
  14. Review your review cycle details. Keep scrolling to see a review cycle summary section that contains all chosen review cycle settings, participants, milestones, etc. This is mainly an FYI section. However, you can use the Edit links to the right of any setting to update it before creating the cycle.
  15. Decide whether or not you want to see a kickoff email. At the bottom of the summary page, you will see a field named 'Kickoff email.' Make sure the box next to this option is checked if want a review kickoff email to go out to review cycle participants. If you want to edit the kickoff email, click Edit. Kick-off emails are sent at 8:23 am in the company's timezone on the day the cycle begins.
  16. After you've confirmed that everything is correct, click the orange Create review cycle button. You must click the button in order for the review cycle to be scheduled/started.CreateReviewCycle_copy.png


Do your people need help figuring out how to fill out their reviews? Check out our Best-Self Review® help docs!

Was this article helpful?
11 out of 20 found this helpful