Kicking off, administering a review cycle

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Administrative options to consider first

  • How often do you want performance reviews done? 
  • What questions do you want to ask? 
  • And what departments and employees should participate?

Once you've decided what fits your company, you'll be able to configure Small Improvements accordingly. It's pretty easy, so don't worry. 

  • What is a cycle? We organize performance reviews into what we call "cycles". A cycle is like a container to store a set of performance reviews: for each cycle, you'll create one questionnaire, which will apply to every review in that cycle. 
  • How do I schedule cycles? You could have one cycle each year that contains all the performance reviews from that year for your entire staff. OR you could have one cycle per quarter. OR, if you wanted senior staff to fill out a different questionnaire than other employees, you could have one cycle per year for senior staff and a second, parallel cycle each year for all other employees.
  • What questions should I use? Our recommendation is that you come up with questions that are relevant and applicable to  everyone in the company, which would let you have only one cycle for any given time period -- but Small Improvements is very flexible, so anything is possible.

Video Tutorial


Getting started

To create a new review cycle or modify an existing one, go to the Reviews Cycle Management screen. In the upper right corner, you'll kick off drafting your cycle via the yellow " + Create Cycle " button.

This will take you to a screen that will guide you through a few steps to set up a review cycle:

Once you finish, you'll see an overview of your settings before you publish the cycle. 

Who's under review?

First, select the employees who should complete performance reviews in this cycle. If you don't want your entire organization in the one cycle, you can easily select teams, sort by department, or create a managers-only review cycle. If you’d like to set up a review cycle for the future or don’t know exactly who should be reviewed yet, just click "Select reviewees later" to skip this step.


Name your cycle

Next, give the cycle a name and introduction. Employees will see this introduction when they go to write their self-assessments, as will managers when they review their reports, so if you’d like them to follow certain guidelines, let them know here. Set the time period under review so participants know what part of the year they should focus on when writing their assessments.

Choosing the Review Process

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to performance management, so Small Improvements lets you configure the review process to fit your needs.

  • HR controls: If HR or indirect managers need to review manager assessments before they're shared, click the "Allow" checkbox next to "HR / indirect manager approval". This way a manager will be able to mark an assessment as done in SI, automatically triggering an email to the report's indirect manager (the manager's manager) and to HR to let them know.
  • Additional options: You can also choose to allow indirect managers to edit or contribute directly to manager assessments if you'd like. 

It's also possible to set up a cycle so that a manager or reviewee can only see the other's assessment after both employees have shared. If you want each person to write his or her assessment before reading what the other wrote, choose from the options which work best for your team.

Compose the questionnaire

Next, you'll compose the questionnaire employees and managers will fill out when writing assessments.

2D Graph

First off, choose whether or not to include the 2D Assessment Graph (more information here). Employees and managers each place a dot on the graph to represent employee performance. Once shared and contrasted, this acts as a visual snapshot of how an employee and their manager perceive the employee's performance.

By default, the chart values are "Results" versus "Behavior", poor to great. But you have complete customization ability over the descriptions contained within the axes. Just click on the graph, then click into the text to edit. 

Assessment Topics

Next, set up the questionnaire. Here is an overview of the questions types you can customise for your review form:

You may add section Headings to divide up your questionnaire by theme or topic. This may be useful for having sections on General feedback, Objectives-related questions, or a focus on Values:

There are two default placeholder questions in the Free Text Questions, asking what the employee did well and what he or she could improve on. You can, of course, edit these and add up to five free-text questions (if you require more, we can increase that limit to 10 on our end. Simply reach out to Support in this case). For the other, more quantitative style question types (see below), there is no limit.

Multiple Choice Questions

Single-answer multiple-choice questions allow respondents to select one answer from a list of response options that you define. This format works best for binary questions (ex: yes/no, true/false), nominal scales (ex: exceeds expectations, meets expectations, needs improvement), or for when you want respondents to choose the option that corresponds most to their opinion. It is also entirely possible to have an extra question on either side just for one group, or even add a confidential question for managers to answer that will not be shown to the reviewee (but will be visible to indirect managers and HR).

Linear Scale

Linear scale questions allow respondents to indicate their preferred position on a sliding scale. As an HR admin, you can define the endpoints of the scale to be numerical ratings or nominal ratings. Reviewer responses can make it easy to compare answers and identify gaps between an employee’s self-assessment and a manager’s evaluation.


Checkboxes allow respondents to select as many answers as they like from a list of predefined responses. This question type is useful for when you want to gather input on topics with multiple applicable answers — for instance, to identify which areas an employee can improve on, competencies they think they excel or lag at, or which learning and development activities would be helpful for an employee. 


Dropdown questions are similar to single-answer multiple-choice questions, in that they allow respondents to choose one answer choice from a list of response options. The difference is that response options are presented in a dropdown menu, which makes this question type ideal for when you need to display a long list of answer choices. 


Ask you can see, to make the questions sound more personal, you can choose from an array of Replacement placeholders (like "First Name"), which would then be replaced by the reviewee's first name, correct pronoun, etc. You can start typing to see a list of user placeholders, or click "Insert" and select Replacements.

Overall Rating

And finally, it is also possible to include an overall rating in the performance review if you'd like, which you can configure at the end of the questionnaire.

Please note that should you decide to include per-topic ratings, scaled questions and an overall rating, they will be independent of each other. There is no automatic averaging, so you'll have to trust the judgement of your team to correlate the overall rating to the per-topic ratings. 


Set the cycle's timeline

As the last step, you’ll define the cycle’s timeline. First set a start date – when should the cycle begin?

  • Immediately: If you want the cycle to start immediately, keep this set to the current date and you’ll be able to send out email notifications about the cycle right away.
  • In the future: If you’re setting up a cycle for the future, select a future date in this field and the rest of the timeline will adjust accordingly with our recommended time intervals between due dates.


Next, choose the self-assessments and manager assessments deadlines. On these dates, assessments will be finalized and no longer editable. Any assessments that have not been shared will not be visible to others, and you will need to edit the cycle settings to extend these deadlines if employees or managers do not share before their respective deadlines. 

Grace Period Dates 

If you choose to add a Grace Period, the deadline dates are no longer binding and employees will be allowed to run late until the end of the Grace Period. You'll be able to send email reminders from the "Company Overview" screen to help nudge people along. 

Sign by Date (end of cycle)

Finally, select the sign-by date. This date will close out the cycle and be the final date for employees and managers to sign assessments. 

Create the cycle!

Now create the cycle. If your cycle is starting immediately, you’ll have the option to invite participants to begin writing right away. Of course, you may skip this step if you like and send invitations later from the Company Overview.

Depending on how your cycle is set up, we’ll inform you of any next steps to take after cycle creation.

And that’s it! Remember, you can always go to the cycle's Company Overview to send reminder emails and manage performance reviews.

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