Review Design I: Articulating the Purpose and Picking the Frequency

Welcome to LarkApp's How to Run a Great Performance Review series! In this post 2 (of 6), we’ll help you think through the purpose of the review and determine a frequency that’s best for your company.

Making your process work for your org’s needs requires an understanding of what goes into review design. The major components are:

  • Purpose (i.e. compensation, development, culture)
  • Frequency (i.e. quarterly, annual)
  • Assessment types (i.e. self, manager, peer)
  • Questions (i.e. content, rating scales)

In this post, we’ll go over determining the purpose of running this review and choosing a review frequency; in the next, we’ll cover assessment types and questions.

Let’s get started…what the purpose of this review?

First, let’s figure out the purpose of running a review for your team. The most common purposes that we see are:

  • Kickstart a culture of sharing continuous feedback and recognition.
  • Empower employees to drive their learning & development.
  • Run a fair and robust promotion/firing/compensation process.

Of course, your desired outcome may encompass more than one of the purposes above.

After you have a solidified understanding of your desired outcome, let’s figure out…

What review frequency is right for you?

Definition of key terms:

  • Feedback: One question asked, with the expectation of a one-paragraph response, maximum. May or may not including a rating.
  • Check-in: Reviews that are more frequent (monthly, quarterly, and semi-annual) and lightweight in nature — usually 2–4 questions. Often tied to learning and career development.
  • Review: In-depth performance assessment. More infrequent (semi-annual and annual). Often tied to promotion and compensation decisions.

We recommend that you pick a combination of reviews and feedback nudges in the Zone of High Performance. If you go below this Zone, the org falls into dysfunction because it’s lacking transparency and performance insights. Go above, and everyone spends too much time on busywork instead of getting work done.

Here are some examples:

  1. Monthly check-ins
  2. Quarterly check-ins + monthly feedback
  3. Semi-annual reviews + bi-weekly feedback
  4. Annual reviews + bi-weekly feedback

Based on your purpose, here are our recommendations for review + feedback frequency:

Best practices notes:

  • If your business is seasonal, you can adjust the review frequency to be timed for off-season periods.
  • A semi-annual review will separate discussions on compensation and L&D. If you want to combine these discussions, hold one annual review.
  • Weekly or bi-weekly feedback can feel onerous if required. Instead, you can position this as an opt-out opportunity with specific themes (i.e. every 2nd Tuesday morning of the month, send feedback prompts for upward feedback) and nudge employees according to the guidelines.

Check out sample assessment sets from our resources library here.

Choosing a frequency tailored to the goals and needs of your org will ensure that your review cycle is successful for all parties.

We hope that this post helped you nail down your review’s purpose and frequency! Next up: Review Design II: Determining Assessment Types and Questions.

If you want to learn more about the best way to put this into practice, please email me at hello@larkapps.com.

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