15Five's Best-Self Review® is a modern performance review tool that helps companies achieve high performance while bringing out the best in their people. Using research-backed question templates and the ability to aggregate an individual's wins, challenges, and progress on key objectives, Best-Self Review® eliminates bias and steers the conversion toward growth and forward-looking performance. This article walks through the steps of creating a Best-Self Review® cycle.

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

Follow the steps below to create a review cycle. You can leave the setup process at any step— your draft will be saved after you give it a name, and you can access it from the Best-Self Review® dashboard.



Before you begin 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 Add review cycle in the top, right-hand corner of the page.



    If you prefer to copy the settings of an existing review cycle rather than creating a new one from scratch, you can clone that cycle.

  3. Select a review name. Enter the name you'd like to use for the new cycle. Be specific when choosing a name to make it easy to identify (e.g. "H1 2024 Company-wide Review").
  4. Select review types. Select the types of reviews you'd like to include in your review cycle.
    You 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. Cycle collaborators have the same permissions as review admins but they are contained to a specific cycle. They can help you finish a set up, and track and manage review progress. They will be notified when you add them here, or upon finishing a set up.
  6. Review milestones. Select milestones (i.e.due dates) for specific events. If needed, you can edit them later on. Check out our best practices for Best-Self Review® timelines for guidance.



    Review milestones are "soft," meaning reviews can still be submitted and shared after the milestone passes. Individuals who miss a deadline can still submit reviews up until the review cycle is locked.

  7. [Optional] Enable calibration sessions and select a due-by date. Assuming your review cycle includes manager reviews, you'll see the option to include calibration sessions towards the bottom of the "Review milestones" section. Calibrations allow leaders to see the distribution of review ratings across teams and adjust those ratings in real-time. Learn more.



    The "Calibration due by" milestone should fall after the "Manager reviews due by" date and before the "Start sharing on" date.

  8. Select whether or not you want the review to repeat. At the bottom of the "Review milestones" section, choose whether this is a one-time review or if you want it to repeat.



    Repeated reviews will not launch automatically. An email will be sent to Review admins a week before the cycle's start date asking them to confirm the cycle.

  9. Select review cycle participants. Decide who will participate (i.e. have reviews written about them) in the review cycle. 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 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 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 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 can 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 only the Leadership Team.
    If you select "Filter participants by hire date range"
    This option allows you to include or exclude individuals whose hire dates fall within a specific date range. This can be helpful if you don't want new hires to be included in a review cycle or if you want to run a review cycle for a specific hiring cohort.
  10. Configure objective review options. Decide whether or not you want to include Objectives in the review cycle, and what types of objectives to include. Learn more.
  11. 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 a template, click View.



    Objective timeframe: If you select Jan 1-Jun 30 as the "timeframe of Objectives to be included," all applicable Objectives with start and end dates between January 1st-June 30th will be included in the review cycle. The only people who will see objectives questions are those who own at least one objective or key result that falls within this set timeframe.

  12. Decide whether or not you want to include Performance Ratings+ in your review cycle and select desired settings. When enabled, Performance Ratings+ automates a score for each participant based on results received in manager and/or self reviews. Learn more.
    If you include Performance Ratings+...

    If you choose to include Performance Ratings+ in your review cycle, you will be asked to select:

    • Performance ratings formulaUsed to calculate a person's performance rating.
    • Rubric: Used to determine which performance rating scores correspond to.
    • Rating visibility: Whether or not participants can see their performance ratings in review results.
    • Additional manager inclusion: Whether or not additional manager reviews should be included in the calculation of performance ratings.


  13. Confirm cycle details. The "Review cycle summary" section contains all chosen review cycle settings, participants, milestones, etc. If needed, use the Edit links to the right of any setting to update it before creating the cycle.
  14. 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 text of 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.
  15. After you've confirmed that everything is correct, click the orange Create review cycle button.

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