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 left 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 organisation 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 questions. There are two default placeholder questions, asking what the employee did well and what he or she could improve on. You can of course edit these to be whatever you like, adding up to five questions

As you can see below, you can fine tune each question to apply to the reviewee on the left side and to their manager on the right side of the review form. We think this method of lining up employee and manager feedback on each question makes the most sense – answers will appear side-by-side, so they'll be easy to compare.

  • 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). 
  • Additionally, editing a section will also give you the opportunity to include a rating per topic. Just click the rating checkbox to access the customizable rating scale. 


To make the questions sound more natural, you can choose from an array of placeholders (like "First Name"), which would then be replaced by the participant first name, correct pronoun, etc. You can start typing to see a list of user placeholders, or click "Insert" and select User Placeholder.

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 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.

Sharing Due Dates (non-binding)

Next set a due date for writing and sharing self-assessments. Sharing timeline milestones are not binding and employees will be allowed to run late. You'll be able to send email reminders from the "Company Overview" screen to help nudge people along. 

Deadlines (last days to edit)

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. 

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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