You've likely heard of "Reviews" or "Performance Reviews," and have an idea of how the process went using your old platform. Furthermore, you're familiar with the goal of reviews: to give and receive feedback and assess how an employee is performing within an organization. 15Five is ready to change the reviews game into a growth-based conversation geared towards each individual becoming their best self. How do we do that exactly? Our Best-Self Review® feature is built around positive psychology and the principles of effective communication.

In this article, you will learn how to...

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.

Reviews in 15Five - How are they different?

The Best-Self Review® feature not only creates space for employees to reflect and give feedback, but also allows them to celebrate their wins growth. When reviews are held regularly, more accurate information will be surfaced. No more recency bias- which is the tendency to remember the things that happened most recently rather than the most important issues. There is even a visible section within every review called “Resources for your reviews” to help reduce recency bias and ensure a more objective and fair assessment of performance. To have regular conversations with your team(s) about growth put the Best-Self Review® feature to good use.

Science 🔬: Check out the Best-Self Review® and the 360 Review Science pages for the research behind our 'Reviews' feature.

Reviews can foster psychological safety if they are held with fair intention and led by growth-based conversations. As these conversations/reviews are held, employees will become more willing to show up fully, leading to honest and innovative reflections.

Video 🎥: Psychological Safety in the Workplace Webinar

Best-Self Review®, our name for "reviews", should be used in addition to 1-on-1s and 15Five check-ins to further nurture the manager and employee relationship. This type of review allow the employee to have a voice and reflect on their progress, while also getting feedback from their manager via a virtual or in-person growth discussion.

We have many stories of employees using their reviews to talk about the work they love and discuss how they can utilize their strengths at work. In these cases, managers can evaluate the work their employee currently has and assess making some adjustments. Who knows? Maybe another teammate has a responsibility that doesn't play into their strengths; you can switch responsibilities up. Learning from your employees allows you to help them live in their Zones of Genius!

Blog post 🗒: Are You Living In Your Zone of Genius?


The 360° Best-Self Review®is great for when you want to elicit conversations between managers and employees, plus the employee’s peers (called peer reviewers) and/or direct reports (called upward reviewers). When including peer and/or upward reviews in a review cycle, employees get a more complete view of their strengths + where they can improve, as the information is coming from various sources. 15Five recommends that review participants nominate peers from within their own team and, if they work cross-departmentally, to also nominate peers from other departments. Varying perspectives are key here. 360° reviews have the potential to increase camaraderie and allow people to become invested in each other’s growth.


The Peer Only Review is helpful for customers wanting to create a peer-only review, regardless of existing hierarchy, that can enable project-based feedback in a more timely and light-weight way. The purpose of Peer Only Reviews is to create a culture of continuous performance improvement by gathering timely and relevant feedback from peers about a project or specific situation. Peer Only Reviews also help managers understand how their direct reports are doing in their project work to facilitate growth conversations. In Peer Only Reviews, anyone can be a peer for anyone else. This is particularly useful for matrix style organizations. 

15Five’s recommendations for positive use of Peer Only Reviews:

  • Employee participation in the nomination process. Research shows employee participation in the nomination process increases perceived fairness, which increases the likelihood for a successful peer review. Unsolicited feedback triggers a threat response. 15Five recommends employees choose the peers to review them to encourage solicited feedback requested by the individual.
  • Set clear expectations: 15Five recommends all people (direct report, peer, and manager) have visibility into who can see the feedback and what it will be used for. Clear expectations helps to foster psychological safety.
  • Focus on development: Research shows 360° peer feedback is effective for development purposes. Combine 360° peer feedback with the Best-Self Review® as part of a larger performance management process for more robust development feedback.
  • Timely feedback: Research shows feedback immediately after a project or performance event has the most impact on performance. Launch Ad Hoc Peer Reviews directly after a completed project.
  • Make feedback about the work: Research shows that feedback about work is more effective than feedback that centers on the person’s identity, especially when it comes to constructive feedback. For feedback to be effective, it’s important to tie it to specific goals and tasks that people perform every day. For sample questions, see 15Five’s Recommended Ad Hoc Peer Review Question template.
  • Anonymous feedback: Research shows anonymous feedback is more honest and promotes psychological safety.

Employees want more quality feedback so they can continue to learn and grow. Similarly, people want to feel appreciated and seen for who they are and how they contribute to the company’s goals and mission. Reviews help connect all of these pieces by creating a space where people are seen, heard, and inspired to grow.

Over time, Reviews in conjunction with 15Fives, Objectives, 1-on-1s, and High Fives, can give valuable insight into an employee’s journey at your company, how they have grown+developed, and how their work has evolved. Insight into each person's journey will be valuable in hiring, capacity planning, and even setting company-wide and department goals.

Use cases for reviews in 15Five:

  • Excluding people from participating, including excluding being nominated as a peer
  • Yearly reviews/Probation reviews
  • New manager to view current direct reports' review history
  • Promotion plan

1️⃣ Excluding people from participating in Reviews

In a 360° Best-Self Review® where peer reviews are included, participants are asked to nominate peers. Participants can nominate anyone as a peer, regardless of whether the peer they're nominating is a participant themselves. Similarly, if upward reviews are included in cycle, any manager who is a participant will have upward reviews written of them. If their direct report(s) are not participants in the cycle, those direct reports will still be asked to write an upward review of their manager. If a review admin is ready to create a review cycle and wants to make sure certain employees do not get nominated as peers or asked to complete an upward review, exclusions can be put in place.



To be the subject of a self, manager, peer, or upward review, you must be a participant. Stated differently, only participants can have reviews written OF them.

Review admins: To exclude people from peer and upward reviews, add the person’s name in the 'Exclude groups or individuals from your reviews' field on the review cycle settings page. Excluding people in these settings will prevent them from all participation in a cycle. There is currently not a way to pick and choose what reviews people are excluded from. 

2️⃣ Yearly reviews/Probation reviews

15Five recommends quarterly or bi-annual reviews. Best-Self Review® was designed to counteract annual reviews. That being said, we understand your company might not be ready to hold more than one review a year and you may need to run a yearly review cycle in the interim. We don’t currently have an automated way to set up a recurring yearly review, but review admins can set up a one-time review to help fill the need for an annual review. Once a review cycle has been created, it can be cloned year after year.



When setting up a review cycle, the cycle dates are deadlines for each step in the review process, including when each review is due. The dates are not indicative of the time frame that the review covers. If you would like to indicate the time frame the review covers, try adding the quarter or time frame as part of the cycle name- Growth and Development Q1 2020.

15Five recommends having company-wide or groups/departments have their review cycles happen at the same time. Everyone is then on the same page and it is less work for you!

3️⃣ New manager to view current direct reports' review history

During your last review cycle, managers had different direct reports than they do this time around. You might discover while the cycle is ongoing, that these new managers cannot see their direct reports' past reviews. You're correct. By default, new managers don't have visibility into review cycles that occurred before they were made the manager. However, it's possible to give new direct managers automatic visibility into the past reviews of their direct report(s) in your company's Best-Self Review® settings.

Why don't we automatically share past reviews with new direct managers? In short, psychological safety. When these direct reports/participants submitted their previous review(s), the visibility did not indicate to them that the review could be shared with other people in the future. In fact, visibility stated that only specific people would see the reviews, so changing that visibility after the reviews were submitted isn't ideal. That being said, we understand that there are times where visibility may be important for the incoming manager. Review admins can add a review viewer for any participant using the 'Edit individual settings' option from the cycle overview page. Another option is to give new managers automatic visibility into past reviews for their new direct reports via your Best-Self Review® settings. For more steps on how to do this, see this article.

4️⃣ Promotion plan

If you would like to add additional questions around "promotions" for your cycle, feel free to add them to any template. The most common place to add promotion based questions is in the private manager assessment.

Included in manager reviews is the 'Private manager assessment'. By default, this section of the manager review is only visible to the manager who completed the review, review admins, and cycle collaborators. However, this setting can be updated to allow visibility into the questions and answers of the Private Manager Assessment for review cycle participants and their respective hierarchy— please refer to our  "Manage visibility options for private manager assessments" Help Center article for more information.

The 'Private manager assessment' includes future-focused questions inspired by research from Deloitte and highlighted in the April 2015 HBR article, Reinventing Performance Management, by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. Questions 1 - 3 are taken directly from Deloitte, question 4 has been adjusted and Question 5 is 15Five's addition.

Keep in mind that any questions added to the private manager assessment are only visible to the direct manager, the review admins, and cycle collaborators (after the manager review is submitted). Review admins can report on answers to these questions in the 'Company results' tab, 'By question'.

Questions about visibility settings? 
Help Center article🗒: Visibility settings for reviews 

Ready to set up a review cycle?
Help Center article🗒: Step One - Manage company review settings
Still have questions about how to fully utilize the Best-Self Review® feature? Reach out to our award-winning Support Team. We're happy to help!

Was this article helpful?