Hold a peer-only review cycle

👥 Only review admins can create review cycles.

15Five gives you the option to hold peer-only review cycles, which allow members of your organization to review each other without including self, manager, or upward reviews. Review admins can create one-off, peer-only review cycles to enable relevant, project-based feedback in a timely and lightweight fashion.

In this article, you will learn...



There are two types of peer reviews that you can select from: participant initiated (the default) and peer initiated. You can read more about these review types in our "Peer reviews: participant initiated vs peer initiated" Help Center article.


Create a peer-only review cycle

This section walks through the basics of creating a peer-only review cycle. For more detailed information about creating review cycles, please refer to our "Create a Best-Self Review® cycle Help Center article.

  1. Click on Best-Self Review® in the left-hand navigation of 15Five.
  2. You will land on the 'Review cycles' page. In the top right corner of the page, click the Create a new review cycle button.
  3. Name your review. 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 2023 Company-wide Review").
  4. Select review type. On the "Review type" page, only select "Peer review".PeerOnlyReview.png
  5. Select peer review type. You will then be asked to select whether you want peer nominations to be participant-initiated (the default) or peer-initiated. Selecting Participant-initiated means that participants will nominate peers to complete a peer review about them. Selecting Peer-initiated means that peers initiate a review by selecting participants they wish to write a peer review for. You can read more about each of these review types in our "Peer reviews: participant initiated vs peer initiated" Help Center article.
  6. Appoint cycle collaborators. On the "Cycle collaborator" page, select people to serve as cycle collaborators in your review cycle. Cycle collaborators have the same permissions as review admins (with the exception of creating review cycles, managing question templates, and deleting review cycles), but only for a specific review cycle.

  7. Set cycle milestones. Next, enter in your review cycle milestones (i.e. due dates) on the "Review milestones" page. If these change during the course of your review cycle it's okay— review milestones can be changed during an active review cycle.
  8. Select whether you want the review cycle to repeat. Choose whether this is a one-time review or if you want to repeat the review quarterly or semi-annually.
  9.  Assign review cycle participants. Decide who will participate in the review cycle on the "Review participants" page. Only review cycle participants will have peer reviews written about them. People who are not participants will not have reviews written about them, but may still be nominated (in a participant-initiated review cycle) or volunteer (in a peer-initiated review cycle) to peer reviews.
  10. Select a question template. Select which question template you want to use for peer reviews. 15Five offers two default question templates: Ad Hoc Peer Review and peer questions. Use one of those, or create a custom question template and apply that to the review cycle. You can click the View button to preview a template.
  11. Confirm review cycle settings. Keep scrolling to see a review cycle summary section that contains all chosen review cycle settings, participants, milestones, etc. Pay special attention to the settings outlined in the 'Advanced settings summary' section, as these options dictate visibility, transparency, and more for the review cycle. If you want to make any changes to settings, use the Edit button to its right.
  12. After you've confirmed that everything is correct, click the orange Create review cycle button.

Use cases

  • Make your review process more lightweight. Peer-only reviews can be run as a precursor to Best-Self Review® (self & manager) cycles to make both cycles more lightweight.
  • Empower managers to be more informed. Peer-only reviews are designed to help managers understand how their direct reports are doing on cross-departmental or team projects to facilitate growth conversations.
  • Encourage timely feedback. Research shows feedback immediately after a project or performance event has the most impact on performance. Launch a peer-only review cycle immediately after a completed project.

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 participants choose peers to review them, which encourages solicited feedback.
  • Set clear expectations. 15Five recommends all people involved in a review cycle have visibility into who can see their feedback and what it will be used for. Clear expectations help 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. If running a Peer Only Review cycle, follow that up with the self & manager component to create a 360° Best-Self Review.
  • 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. Review administrators can choose the visibility setting during cycle setup.

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