What can I learn from this page?
How to design, launch and manage a Performance Review cycle
Who is this guide for?
Performance Admins, HRBPs
In this guide we will explore how to create and launch a performance cycle for your organization. Our Performance Reviews can be customised to suit but we generally recommend including all 3 steps: peer feedback, upward feedback and manager review. This helps to minimise bias and it gives managers a range of perspectives to consider for their review.
The self-reflection cycle, where employees review their own performance, happens separately from the performance review cycle. But don't worry, any info gathered in the self-reflection is visible to Managers when they fill out their review form in the performance cycle. Usually, these cycles run together. For more details on setting up a self-reflection cycle, check out our guide.
We will start off by looking a the Feedback portion of the cycle.
There are a couple of feedback components to consider:
Peer & upward feedback:
Peers and direct reports give feedback on an employee's performance and improvement areas.
Optional for peer-only or combined (peer and upward) feedback cycles, employees can nominate their feedback providers.
Automating upward feedback requests:
Optional for cycles with upward feedback: automated requests send feedback to direct reports during the Provide Feedback stage of the cycle.
Now let's look at the possible feedback configurations.
Type of Feedback
How it works:
Peer & Upward Feedback
Only Peer Feedback
Only Upward Feedback
Peer & Upward Feedback with Automated requests.
Can employees submit nominations past the deadline?
The communicated closure date is not a hard deadline. Employees can submit nominations past this date.
Can employees add additional nominations after they've already submitted?
After an employee submits nominations, the in platform task will disappear but the employee can still submit further nominations using the link in their nominations email.
When should nominations take place?
We recommend scheduling the nominations to take place before the Step 2: Managers Review Requests stage of the cycle.
Can Managers request feedback past the deadline?
The communicated closure date is not a hard deadline. Managers can continue to request feedback, and employees can continue to complete feedback after this date.
Can Admin send a peer or upward feedback request on behalf of a Manager?
Once the Step 2: Managers Review Requests phase, begins in a cycle with peer and/or feedback enabled, both Managers and Admins can edit existing or send new feedback requests.
How can an Admin withdraw a scheduled feedback request or set up a new feedback request?
Feedback requests can be withdrawn in both a scheduled or sent state using the guidance below:
Click on the Performance tab, then go to Admins: Performance Review Cycles
Click on the cycle to open.
Click on the Peer and Upward Feedback tab.
Click on the user to view any scheduled requests.
Click the 'X' to remove a scheduled request.
To add a new reviewer, enter the name of the employee and click Schedule Requests
Can I re-add a reviewer that was previously removed?
Both Admins and the employees Manager have the option to manually re-select the same reviewer to provide feedback even if they were previously removed.
Do feedback reviewers have to be participants of the cycle?
No, feedback reviewers don't need to be added to the participants list in the cycle to give feedback about someone else. However, they must have an active user profile on the platform.
Managers assess their direct reports, reviewing past performance, and providing suggested areas for future growth. Performance Ratings produced from this type of Cycle can be used to inform decision-making in Compensation Reviews using our Compensation Planning Integration.
How it works:
Admins create a set of questions for the manager review.
Admins decide which questions can be shared back with direct reports once sharing is enabled.
Admins set the launch and communicated closure dates for manager reviews. Similar to peer nominations and peer & upward feedback, the communicated closure date is not a hard deadline. Manager reviews can still continue after the communicated closure date.
Optional when manager reviews is selected, you can enable employees the ability to mark a review as acknowledged once they’ve had their final review conversation with their manager.
How it works:
When creating a cycle, Admins can select ‘Review Acknowledgement’ as a performance unit alongside Manager Reviews
Later in the performance review cycle, once finalised performance reviews are shared out to employees, the ability for an employee to acknowledge their review will be made available
Following the 1:1 conversation between manager and employee to discuss the performance review, employees will have the ability to mark their review as acknowledged and add any additional notes as required
A few things to note:
Manager Review must be included as a performance unit in the cycle in order to include Review Acknowledgements within the cycle.
The ability for an employee to acknowledge their review is only available once performance reviews have been shared with employees.
Cycle administrators will be able to view and track reviews that have been acknowledged
How to launch a cycle
Step 1: Choose your performance units
Name the cycle and select what performance units to include, choosing from:
peer feedback (with the option for limited/unlimited peer nominations to allow employees to nominate who will give them feedback when peer feedback is selected)
upward feedback (with the option for automatic requests for direct reports of the subject)
manager reviews (with the option of review acknowledgments enabled for the cycle)
Step 2: Add questions
What questions do you want to be included in the performance units you selected for your cycle? You'll add all question sets during this step. A few things to note:
Peer & upward feedback should have different question sets, one for peer feedback and another for upward feedback.
The peer feedback template is used if the manager wants to get feedback on how their direct reports are doing as an individual contributor outside of managing people. The upward feedback template is used if the manager wants to get feedback on how their direct reports are doing as a manager.
Admins can always edit the questions, but only while the cycle is in draft state or scheduled. Questions can no longer be edited once the unit goes live.
Only admins can edit the questions, managers cannot edit questions during any part of the review cycle.
To add links to your questions, follow the steps below;
Select the word in the question where you want to insert a link.
Click on the Link symbol.
Enter the URL (web address).
Press the Enter or Return key on your computer to save the link.
Step 3: Select which questions will be shareable
What answers and feedback responses do you want managers to be able to share with their direct reports once they have completed their reviews? Select those questions during this step that will be shared. Not sure which questions to share? Check out our guide. A few things to note:
You will still need to enable sharing, which you can do in the Admin settings once the cycle is in session or has closed.
Share settings are configurable for manager reviews, for peer, and for upward feedback individually.
Only the admin can select which questions can be shared and enable share settings for the cycle.
Step 4: Add employees
Choose which users to include in the cycle.
When both peer and upward feedback are included in the cycle, you are selecting employees including managers to be reviewed. Employees will give feedback about their peers and managers. Managers will get upward feedback about themselves.
When only peer feedback is included in the cycle (and not upward feedback), you are selecting employees to request peer feedback about.
When only upward feedback is included in the cycle (and not peer feedback), you are selecting only employees with direct reports to request feedback about.
There are a few different options for adding employees that we explore below:
Manager/Job-Title/Department filters: You can either select all employees or filter to select specific Departments/Managers/Job-titles . If for example, departments require different questions, this will give you the option of launching a performance review for one department and then creating another performance review to be launched to other departments in the same time period.
Started Before filter: Use the started before filter to automatically add employees that started before a selected date.
Employee Status filter: Select participants for the cycle based on their employee status. If the cycle is draft, we default the Employee Status to Active users. Learn more about this option here.
Upload CSV: Upload a file containing one single column of employee emails with no column title, save the file as a CSV and upload. Any email in this file must already be attached to an active user profile.
Step 5: Schedule the cycle
In this final step, select a launch date and a communicated closure date for each of the performance units.
Managers select people to ask for peer feedback and upward feedback
If automatic requests are included for upward feedback, managers can review requests at this point
If a peer nomination limit is specified, a nomination approval date and time can be set to automatically approve nominations that managers have not yet reviewed
Completion of feedback
We recommend scheduling these events in a sequence, where the previous step ends one day before the next step starts, to create a streamlined and intuitive process for participants, as visualized above below. Sequenced scheduling reduces process anxiety and creates clear timeline expectations. Nominations have been submitted when managers go to request feedback, and all requests have been submitted when reviewers are first requested to provide feedback.
Approving nominations (optional)
It is possible to configure a performance cycle with peer nominations to automatically approve and request feedback (on behalf of a manager), from reviewers who’ve been nominated by employees. This is ideal for situations where managers are either unavailable or unable to review employee nominations and schedule requests for feedback from peers, ensuring feedback is received.
It is important to note that this does create a situation where an employee’s nominations are not duly reviewed by their manager before the request for feedback is sent. Because of this reason the automated approval mechanism is only available when a nomination limit is set for the cycle, hence reducing the potential for a large number of unreviewed nominations to be sent through.
To set a nomination approval date and time:
First ensure a nomination limit is set for the cycle on the Settings step
Selecting Peer Feedback with Employee nominations, setting the limit to a value other than ‘No limit’
Specify a date and time for the Approve nominations (optional) setting under the Step 2: Managers review requests section
This is an optional setting and can be left unconfigured if you do not wish to automatically approve peer nominations on behalf of managers. If you wish to unconfigure a set date/time, select the Reset option in the date picker.
Note that Upward feedback nominations are not included as part of this bulk nomination approval step:
This means that any nominations submitted as part of upward feedback (i.e. a manager nominating their direct reports) will not be automatically approved when the set approval date is reached. Instead these need to be approved by the manager’s manager
You can take advantage of the automated upward feedback setting which automatically requests feedback from all the direct reports of a manager without the skip line manager having to request the feedback, thus not needing to worry about the nomination and approval steps
Choosing a nomination approval date
We recommend that this date be the end of managers reviewing nominations (step 2) and right before peers provide feedback (step 3). This ensures that managers have as much time to review requests up until peers are communicated to provide feedback. Once this date is reached, any unapproved and new nominations will be automatically sent through.
If the configured approval date is before the communicated end of managers reviewing nominations (step 2), and well ahead of peers providing feedback (step 3), any unapproved and new nominations will be scheduled to be sent through when step 3 begins, during which time managers and administrators have the chance to review a list of scheduled requests and remove any if desired.
Any new peer nomination requests by an employee after this nomination approval date will automatically be sent through to reviewers for feedback.
Step 6: Review the cycle
The final step before you select “Create” is to review the Cycle Summary. This step includes all the information you provided during the previous steps in a simple and visual summary. You have the ability to view, preview and edit each step if you find something that needs tweaking after review.
How to manage a cycle
As an admin or HR business partner, you have access to in-app dashboards for peer & upward feedback and manager reviews, as well as exports of all nominations, feedback, and manager review data.
From the in-app dashboards you're able to:
Track progress of feedback requested by managers and feedback completed by reviewers
Easily sort columns to understand how nominations and feedback requests are distributed across your employee population
Identify who hasn't yet submitted nominations, requested or completed feedback in order to follow up with them or their manager as the cycle progresses
Nominations submitted: view how many users the employee has nominated to provide peer/upward feedback.
Feedback requested: view the total number of peer/upward requests sent to other users to collect feedback on the employee. This number includes any feedback requests triggered by both a Manager and Performance Admin.
Feedback completed about employee: view the total number feedback provided based on the requests for the employee.
Search for individual employees to dig into their feedback requests, withdraw any pending requests, or request feedback on behalf of their manager. When you request peer or upward feedback on behalf of the manager, the Requested by field as seen by the reviewer will display the current manager’s name.
Both Performance Administrators and Managers can add a collaborator to a review once the scheduled Manager Review component has launched to help the manager with completing the review.
To add a collaborator:
Go to Performance > Admin: Performance Review Cycles and select the current cycle.
Click into the Manager Review tab within this cycle.
Find the individual review you would like to add a collaborator to > click the Three Dots Icon and select Manage Collaborators.
Here, you can view current collaborators and search for new users to add.
Finally, click Update Collaborators to save your changes.
In order for collaborator notes to be visible to the manager and admin, the collaborator must select Share Comments at the bottom of the review form
Once new collaborators are added:
They will receive notifications via email and in their Culture Amp platform tasks list.
A collaboration request will appear as a task in the Your Overview section of their homepage, displaying the number of pending collaboration tasks and their completion progress.
During the live cycle:
Collaborators can action these tasks and review completed ones.
They can access the manager's review and comment on each question. However, these comments are only visible to the employee's manager.
In the Employee Profile view, they can see sections based on their permissions, such as goals the employee has made visible to them, and any continuous or peer feedback they've provided for that employee.
Important limitations for collaborators:
They cannot directly view or comment on the employee's self-reflections.
Collaborators do not gain additional access to view the full employee profile unless they are the employee's manager.
Both Managers and Performance Administrators retain the ability to add or remove collaborators until the cycle ends. Removed collaborators' comments persist, but their review access is revoked.
Collaborator notes remain visible to the collaborator, manager, applicable skip-level managers, and Performance Administrators. Employees won't see these comments.
Adding collaborators to a performance review without an assigned manager, such as a CEO, isn't currently supported.
Collaborator comments become visible to Managers, HRBPs, or Administrators only when the collaborator clicks the Share Comments button at the page's bottom. While comments are autosaved as typed, they remain private to the collaborator until they click the button to finalize and share them.
Collaborators Feedback Profile View:
Collaborators Goal Profile View:
Both Managers and Performance Admin can use the Employee Preview mode within Manager Reviews to facilitate discussions with their direct reports by sharing their screen.
The Employee Preview option opens a new page (typically a new tab in most browsers) specifically showcasing responses that can be shared with a direct report.
This profile view:
Shows only the responses intended for sharing and omits those not configured to be shared.
Remains accessible for both incomplete and completed manager reviews.
Cannot be accessed by direct reports; the URL is restricted from their access.
Is accessible to both Managers and HR Administrators.
How to enable sharing
In order for feedback to be shareable once it's been completed, you'll need to enable sharing in the Admin settings. You can enable sharing once the cycle is in session or closed.
Click the Sharing settings option and you will be presented with additional information about enabling sharing. Then select the Turn on button to enable sharing.
If you have setup both feedback (peer and upward) and manager reviews questions to be shared, you will need to enable sharing for both of these units individually by navigating to the respective unit tab.
Enabling sharing for feedback
Enabling sharing for manager reviews
The questions you selected as shareable during the launch design can now be shared by managers, Admins, and HRBPs. To view the questions enabled for sharing, click the Edit Cycle > View Sharing drop down that is available in the top right hand corner of your screen. Not sure which questions to share? Check out our FAQs.
If Review Acknowledgements are included in the cycle and sharing has been enabled, once a manager review has been shared, the ability for employees to acknowledge their reviews will also be made available.
There's also a 'Share all' option in the top right hand corner to share in bulk.
Once sharing is enabled for feedback and/or manager reviews, the options of sharing individually or in bulk become available for use.
Manager view - feedback and manager reviews
Administrator/HRBP view - feedback and manager reviews
Similar to enabling, you have the option of disabling sharing for either feedback or manager review sections. Simple click Sharing settings option and select the Turn Off button. This in turn will disable the sharing options (individual rows and in bulk) visible to managers and administrators).
How to close a cycle
Your communicated closure date does not automatically close the self-reflection or review cycle. After the due date has passed, employees will still have the ability to submit until you manually close the cycles.
Close both the self-reflection and performance cycles by visiting each and clicking Edit Cycle > Close Cycle. Once closed, all of the content will become read only and employees will no longer be able to submit or update their self-reflections or reviews.
Admins have the ability to create and manage the configurable details of the performance review cycle at all stages of the cycle. The following configurations are possible when cycles are in draft, scheduled, live, and closed states:
Live (in session)
Edit schedule (communicated closure dates)
What's the notification?
Who receives it?
Participants nominate peers
employees included in cycle
launch date + time scheduled in cycle
Managers select peer reviewers
managers of employees in cycle
launch date + time scheduled in cycle
Reviewers complete feedback requested of them
launch date + time scheduled in cycle
Reminder for reviewers to complete feedback requested of them
7 and 1 day prior to close date
Managers review direct reports
managers of employees in cycle
launch date + time scheduled in cycle
Reminder for manager to review direct reports
managers of employees in cycle
7, 3, 2, 1 day prior to close date
Reviewers have completed feedback requested of them
managers of employees in cycle
batched email delivered following morning, real-time app notification
Employees receive a notification to nominate peers for feedback.
Managers receive a notification to select reviewers for their direct reports.
Notification is received by managers of employees in a cycle that includes automated upward feedback requests.
Reviewers receive a notification to complete feedback.
Reviewers receive a reminder to complete feedback.
Managers receive a notification that feedback was provided about their direct reports.
Complete Manager Review
Managers receive a notification to complete the manager review for their direct reports.
Managers receive a reminder to complete the manager review for their direct reports.
I created a test draft and had my direct report submit peer nominations. Where do I see these?
A manager can see the submitted peer nominations from a direct report when they go to review that employee. This can be done once the peer & upward feedback process launches. There is no notification or approval process before then.
A manager change has taken place mid cycle, will the review data carry over to the new manager?
If the previous Manager has entered data into a user's Manager Review, the new Manager responsible for the user's Manager Review will see any save or submitted data that was entered in by the previous Manager
I deactivated a user - why do I still see them in my cycle?
If a user is deactivated after submitting their Peer / Upward feedback as part of a PR cycle, the feedback will still persist in the cycle. They will be marked with a 'user deactivated' icon next to their row in the completed feedback view.
If a user is deactivated prior to completing feedback/review, although we remove them as a "participant" of a cycle, they are still maintained at the review level with a deactivated icon next to their name. This means that they still persist in the cycle with a deactivated icon next to their name and their manager assignment removed (this is so the manager can no longer see them in their view) and will also show when searching for them in the cycle view.
How do I remove a deactivated participant from my cycle?
To remove an inactive user from a Performance Review cycle:
Edit the participants page
Use the ‘Employee Status’ drop down menu and select ‘Deactivated’
Untick the participant
How do I use the Participant selection filter?
The participant selection page for performance review cycles incorporates an Employee Status drop-down feature. Here's how it works:
When a cycle is in the draft stage, the Employee Status filter defaults to Active.
An Admin has the flexibility to modify this filter at any time.
For live cycles, the filter defaults to All, which displays all active and deactivated users.
When All is selected, deactivated users appear at the bottom of the list.
Active users are listed alphabetically first, followed by deactivated users in alphabetical order.
Deactivated users may need to be loaded by clicking View More depending on the number of users and other applied filters.
Select All Checkbox:
The Select All checkbox will choose or de-select users automatically that match the criteria set by the filter/s.
For instance, if All is selected in the filter, even deactivated users will be selected or deselected when using the Select All option.
This applies even if deactivated users are not visible until View More is clicked to load them.
I've updated my employee data - will this information update within my cycle?
This will depend on whether your cycle is Live or Closed.
My Cycle is Live: Updates to the user file ( such as a change in manager) should flow through to the current cycle (regardless of whether the review is submitted or unsubmitted).
My Cycle is Closed: Updates to the user file will not flow through automatically. The review will show which manager it was written by, but a change to a users manager means the new manager will now have access to review.
Help! An employee has accidentally declined the feedback request
Not to worry - if an an employee has accidentally declined a feedback request, you can re-requested by heading into their feedback page within the cycle, 'X-ing' out the declined request, and re-scheduling the feedback request.
Why are cycle Tasks still showing on the homepage?
Tasks will remain on the hompage until the task is complete OR the cycle is closed. If the cycle has not yet been closed, participants will still see those completed tasks on their homepage.
Send your managers and employees to our Performance Review Cycle Guide for Managers and Employees article.
Learn about the rationale behind each component of the performance review process (self-reflection, peer and upward feedback) in our Science behind the performance review templates article.