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When you are getting started with Totara Perform, you will need to set up the performance activities you want to assign to users.

Creating a performance activity

To create a new performance activity you need to follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to Quick-access menu > Activity management.
  2. Click Add activity.
  3. Enter the Activity title and a brief Description.
  4. Select an Activity type from the dropdown list:
    • Appraisal
    • Check-in
    • Feedback
  5. Click Get started.
  6. You can edit the Activity titleDescription and Activity type on the General tab. If you do so, remember to click Save changes.
  7. You can optionally turn Anonymise responses on or set the Selection of participants (see General tab settings below for more). 
  8. Configure the settings on the Content tab.
  9. Configure the Assignments and Notifications tabs. 

Many of these settings can only be edited while the activity is in the Draft stage. Once the activity is Active you can still change the Assignments and Notifications settings, but you will not be able to change the Activity type or Anonymise responses settings. Also you will not be able to change any activity content.

General tab settings 

Activity titleThe title of the performance activity, this should be brief but descriptive (and ideally unique to avoid confusion). Mandatory field. 
DescriptionA short description of the performance activity. This can be helpful to allow others understand the purpose of the activity.This is only visible to Site Administrators.
Activity type

Select the type of activity, choose from: 

  • Appraisal
  • Check-in
  • Feedback
Anonymise responsesIf enabled responses will be anonymised, meaning users will not be able to see who has provided responses as part of the activity.-
Visibility condition

This setting determines when users whose relationship allows them to view others' responses will have access to those responses. Responses are never visible to others before they've been submitted

Choose from the following options:

  • None (submitted responses immediately visible to viewers)
  • Response submission is closed for the participant who is viewing
  • Response submission is closed for all participants

When Anonymise responses is enabled, closure of all response submissions is enforced as the condition for response visibility, to ensure anonymity.

Selection of participantsDecide which participants will be able to manually choose the participants to fill certain relationships. This allows the relationships to be controlled by the desired user to best suit each case. For example you might allow the Subject to select the participants for the Peer relationship. This would mean the subject of an appraisal is able to select which peers they wish to review them. Once activated it is not possible to change the users selected. Subject and participant instance will be generated.

Content tab settings 

Automatic closureEnable this setting to automatically close sections and instances once they have been submitted. Closed sections can no longer be edited, and they are marked with a padlock icon.

If this setting is not enabled then each section will be marked as complete but will not be closed, meaning the participants can return and edit their answers at any point.

You may also want to see manually managing the availability of an activity for more information on manually opening or closing a performance activity.  

Multiple sections enabled

Enable this setting to divide the activity into multiple sections. Each section is presented as its own page with a unique URL. For each section you need to add a name and the responding participants (you can also optionally add view-only participants). Then add content by clicking Edit content elements. This setting gives you the flexibility to have different participants complete each section.

You can add a section above or below existing sections, but note that you cannot change the order of sections.

If you have multiple sections set up and then disable this setting, all content will be merged into the first section. Additionally any section-specific participant settings will be removed.

Each section must include at least one question.

Responding participants

Click the button to decide which participants will need to complete the activity. You can choose from:

 Select all that apply, then click Done

At least one responding relationship must be added per section.

For each participant you can remove the participant by clicking the remove icon (). You can also allow users to view other participants' answers by ticking the Can view others' responses checkbox.

The subject needs to be selected here in order for the activity to appear in the user's Your activities page.

View-only participants

Click the button to decide which participants will only be able to view the activity. You can choose from:

 Select all that apply, then click Done

For each participant you can remove the participant by clicking the remove icon ().  

Only relationships which have not been selected as Responding participants can be added as view-only. 

Adding content to a performance activity

When you are ready you can start adding the required content.

  1. Click Edit content elements.
  2. Click Add element.
  3. Select an option from the dropdown list. You can find out more about the available question types in the table below.
  4. Complete the required fields for the chosen question type.
  5. Optionally enter a Reporting ID if you want questions to be related and marked together (see more in the Related questions section of this page).
  6. Click Done.
  7. Repeat steps 2-4 to add more questions.

Once you have added all the questions you require you can navigate back to the activity page using the breadcrumb at the top of the page.

If a question is marked as required then it needs to be completed to submit the section in which it sits. If a question is not mandatory then the section can be submitted without answering the question.

Note that participants will not be warned if they have not completed any optional questions when submitting a section.

Once you have added more than one question you can change the order of questions by dragging and dropping them. Hover your mouse over a question, and when the drag-and-drop icon () appears in the top-left corner you can click and drag the question to its new position within the section.

Moving content between sections

If you have set up multiple sections in a performance activity, you can move content and questions between sections by following these steps:

  1. While editing the content of an activity select Edit content elements for the section containing the content you want to move.
  2. On the content you want to move select the ellipsis icon (), then Move to another section.
  3. A pop-up window will indicate which section you are moving the content from. Select the section you want to move the content to using the Move to dropdown list.
  4. Click Move and the content will immediately move to the new section.

Note that you can't move content and questions between sections once the activity is active.

Content and question types

Content/question typeDescriptionNotes
Date pickerThis question type allows you to enter Question text to which a date answer can be provided. Respondents can answer by selecting a date from the date picker.-
Long textFor long text questions you can enter Question text, and participants can type a long text answer in response. You can make this question mandatory by checking the Response required box.-
Multiple choice: Single-select

This question type allows you to present a question with multiple Options (presented as radio buttons), from which participants can select a single option. Enter the question in the Question text field, then enter the answers. Add more options by clicking the add icon (), or remove options by clicking the remove icon (). You can make this question mandatory by checking the Response required box.

This question type requires a minimum of two answers.
Multiple choice: Multi-select

This question type allows you to present a question with multiple options (presented as checkboxes), from which participants can select one or more options. Enter the question in the Question text field, then enter the options. Add more options by clicking the add icon (), or remove options by clicking the remove icon (). You can make this question mandatory by checking the Response required box.

Numeric ratingThis question type allows you to present a sliding numeric rating scale. You can set the number values at either end of the scale and select the default value. -
Custom ratingThis question type allows you to present a rating scale as a series of radio buttons that the respondent can select from. You can enter the text to be displayed for each point on the scale and assign it a numeric value. 

For example you might have a rating scale as follows:

  • Extremely poor (-2)
  • Poor (-1)
  • Average (0)
  • Good (1)
  • Very good (2)
Short textFor short text questions you can enter Question text, and participants can type a one-line answer in response. You can make this question mandatory by checking the Response required box.-
Static contentThis content type allows you to add text to the activity with no interactive elements. You can add a Title (optional), then a larger amount of text in the Content field.You can use Static content elements to provide additional context and help participants to understand different parts of the activity. For example, you might want to explain the purpose of each section.

Note that the Long text and Static content types both use the Weka editor, although social functions (e.g. hashtags or user mentions) are not enabled in performance activity content.

Related questions 

When adding a question to a performance activity you can choose to add an Reporting ID. You can give questions the same Reporting ID to create a relationship between them, allowing you to report on the related questions as though they were a single question.

You can create relationships between as many different questions as required.

For example, you might have two multiple choice questions about the subject's proficiency with different software. You could give these a shared Reporting ID such as 'software-skills', then the two questions would be considered together for reporting purposes.

It is strongly recommended to keep a record of which Reporting IDs you have used and where they are used.

Assigning a performance activity 

After creating an activity and adding your content, you are ready to assign the performance activity to users. You can do this on the Assignments tab.

A user can only be assigned once, i.e. if they appear in multiple assigned audiences, they are still only assigned to a performance activity once.

Assign to an audience

  1. On the Assignments tab, click Add group.
  2. Select Audience from the dropdown list. Note that you can assign an activity to either set or dynamic audiences.
  3. Tick the checkboxes for each audience you would like to assign the activity to. You can select any number of audiences.
  4. Click Add.
  5. The selected audiences will now be displayed on the Assignments tab.

You can edit your audiences after assigning them to a performance activity. If an audience is removed then any subject and participant instances that have already been created will be unaffected. If a user leaves an audience then they will still have access to any existing instances, but no new instances will be created.

On sites with multitenancy enabled, you will not be able see tenant audiences when assigning performance activities. Instead, you can create a dynamic audience at the system level using the Tenant membership rule to add users from a single tenant. These audiences will be available when assigning performance activities from the Assignments tab.

Additionally, if you create performance activities as a tenant member then they will only be available to other members and participants of your tenant.

Assign to a position or organisation

Another way to assign performance activities is based on the positions and organisations you have set up.

  1. On the Assignments tab, click Add group.
  2. Select Position or Organisation from the dropdown list.
  3. Tick the checkboxes for each position or organisation you would like to assign the activity to. You can select any number of positions or organisations.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Your selections will now be displayed on the Assignments tab.

You can freely add or remove audiences once the activity is Active (i.e. it has been activated).

You can edit your positions and organisations after assigning them to a performance activity. If a position or organisation is removed then any subject and participant instances have been created will be unaffected. If a user is removed from the position or organisation with an assigned performance activity then no new instances will be created.

Activity instance creation settings

The activities you create essentially act as templates, from which instances will be created for assigned users. There are two types of instances that are created: subject instances and participant instances

Subject instances refers to the parent instance created for a user assigned to a performance activity to which a number of participant instances are then attached.

Participant instances are created for users related to the Subject (e.g. their Manager or Appraiser) and the subject themselves. Each participant has their own participant instance, and the progress of each instance contributes to the subject instance completion tracking.

Creation range

Select from two options:

  • Limited: The user selects an opening date and a closing date, between which subject instances for eligible assigned users will be created. 
  • Open-ended: There is no closing date, meaning the activity will generate subject instances for any eligible assigned users from the opening date onward.
Date type

Select from two options:

  • Fixed: With fixed dates you simply enter the calendar dates you want to use. You can also select the timezone for the selected date (this will default to the server timezone).
  • Relative: Relative dates allow you to choose dates relative to when the activity instance is created, e.g. within two weeks. With dynamic dates you can configure the following:
    • Select the number of Days or Weeks, then Before or After your selected criteria.
    • Select whether you want your date range to be based on the Completion date of another activity, Date first assigned to this activity, the Instance creation date of another activity, Job assignment start date, or the User creation date (i.e. when the user's account was created).
    • If you selected Completion date of another activity or Instance creation date of another activity then you will need to select an activity from the dropdown list.

Fixed dates apply to all assigned users, so everyone is bound by the same dates, whereas Relative dates are personal to the assigned user, because it is relative to another date or event in relation to that user.

An example of a Fixed and Limited date range could be:

9 April 2020 Europe/London to 9 December 2020

An example of a Relative and Open-ended date range could be:

2 weeks after Completion date of another activity - Probation appraisal

Creation frequency

Select from two options:

  • Once: A single instance will be created for each user.
  • Repeating: As long as the activity is assigned to a user instances will be created based on the settings selected. You can set a maximum number of instances per user, or set no maximum limit. When using repeating dates you can choose from the following options to decide when additional instances should be created for assigned users:
    • Completion of previous instance, once minimum time since creation has passed: X days/ weeks

When using you enable Repeating you may want to use each of the available options in the following scenarios.

Every X days/weeks after the creation of their previous instance: Use for activities you know users will complete immediately.

When previous instance is complete, and it was created more than X days/weeks ago: Use when you don't want instances to be created too frequently, for example if users could complete the activity immediately but you still want to space out instances.

Every X days/weeks after the completion of their previous instance: Use for activities that have a larger window for completion. If you're not sure when the participants will complete the activity then this ensures that users won't have multiple instances created at the same time.

Due date

Select from two options:

  • Enabled: Enabling this setting allows you to set a due date for the end users to complete the activity. You can set the due date as a number of days or weeks after the instance is created.
  • Disabled: There is no deadline for submitting responses, meaning users are free to complete the activity at their own pace.

If a due date is set then it will be displayed in the end users' lists of activities, as well as in the subject and participant instance reports.

The due date also acts as a trigger for certain notifications. See more about Performance activity notifications below. 

Job assignment-based instances

Select from two options:

  • DisabledA single subject instance will be created for each user drawing participants from all of their job assignments (if applicable). 
  • EnabledA subject instance will be created for each of a user's job assignments.

If this setting is enabled but a user has no job assignments then a subject instance will not be created for the user.

Note that if you select Disabled you will not be able to use Job assignment start date as a reference date for relative scheduling, as the user could have multiple start dates for their different job assignments.

Once your performance activity is ready to go, you need to activate it either using the Activate button in the top banner (visible at the top of each tab while editing the activity) or from the Manage performance activities page.

Performance activity notifications 

When editing a performance activity you can configure which notifications are sent to participants by going to the Notifications tab.

You can toggle each notification type on, and expand each section to determine which participants will receive the notification. Even once an activity has been activated you can still change the notification settings.

When choosing who will receive a notification you might want to consider the needs of each relationship. For example any relationship set to be a view-only participant may not want to be notified when instances are created but may want to be notified when they are completed so they can go and view the responses. Another example is that it may be the case that only managers and subjects want to receive notifications about the Completion of subject instance. It is advisable to consider relationships when configuring notifications to avoid sending unnecessary or unwanted notifications. 

Example of the performance activity notifications screen.

You can configure the following notifications:

  • Participant selection
  • Participant instance creation
  • Participant instance creation reminder
  • Due date approaching reminder
  • On due date reminder
  • Overdue reminder
  • Completion of subject instance
  • Reopened activity

Reminder notifications

For the reminder types of notification (e.g. Participant instance creationDue date approachingand Overdue reminders) you can set triggers.

Triggers are a set number of days either before or after an event that a notification will be sent. You can set multiple triggers for a single reminder. For example you might set the Due date approaching reminder to be sent at 14 days, 7 days and 1 day before due date. 

Only users who have not completed their participant instances will receive any enabled reminders.

Example of adding triggers to performance activity reminders.

Below you can see more details of the available triggers.

Participant instance creation reminderX day(s) after instance creation.
Due date approaching reminderX day(s) before due date. 
Overdue reminderX day(s) after due date. 

You cannot set a trigger for the On due date reminder as this is sent on the performance activity's due date. Please look at the Due date approaching reminder to set a reminder before the due date or the Overdue reminder to set a reminder after the due date. 

Manually add participants

Peer, Mentor, Reviewer and External respondents are manually populated relationships. This means that for each subject instance of the activity these relationships need to be manually selected. 

On the General tab of an activity, the activity creator can set who should perform that manual population (per instance), i.e. be the 'selector'. The Selection of participants setting allows you to choose the selector from the following users: 

  • The subject themselves
  • Manager
  • Manager's Manager
  • Appraiser

The Manager, Manager's Manager and Appraiser relationships are all automatically derived from what is set on the user's job assignment.

The user(s) acting as selector(s) will receive a notification that they need to perform this selection. Once a manually populated relationship has been invoked in the activity (by adding them as a participant on at least one section), that selection will have to take place to enable it to proceed. It's possible that multiple 'selectors' are identified for a particular manually populated relationship (for example because multiple users fulfil the role of 'manager') however only one of those users needs to make a selection for the activity to proceed.

Regardless of whether manual relationships are being used in the the activity, the Selection of participants setting will always appear on the General tab. This setting can simply be ignored if you do not require relationships to be set manually. 


As an illustration of how this setting can be used let's look at an example where you want to create an activity in which a subject's peers should participate. Using the Selection of participants setting on the General tab you can decide who the most appropriate person is to select these participants (since 'peer' is not a formally represented relationship in Totara). You can decide if the subject should choose the peers they want to participant themselves, or if the subject's manager should select the peers to ensure impartiality. 

The relationship pairing set up in the particular subject instance (e.g. who is selected as the subject's peers) does not persist outside of that instance. So if you wanted to have the same participants next time (i.e. the same people considered to be the subject's peers), they would need to be reselected for that instance.

Adding external participants

When you create a performance activity if you have set one of the Responding participant or View-only participant places to be an external participant then their details will need to be added in order to get access. An external participant is someone outside of your organisation who does not normally have access to you system, for example this might be a customer, contractor, or someone you are collaborating with from another company. 

When creating an activity

These first steps must be completed when the activity is being created, and before it is activated. 

  1. Add External participant as one of the Responding participants (under the Content tab).
  2. Set the user you want to select the external participant(s) in Selection of participants (under the General tab).

Once the subject instance is generated

After the activity has been activated the user responsible for selecting the external participant must select them.

If you have enabled notifications for subject instance creation then the person responsible for choosing external participants will receive a notification with a link that will take them to the selection interface.

Otherwise they will need to follow these steps:

  1. From the top navigation bar go to Develop > Activities.
  2. In the banner above the table click Select participants.
  3. Find the activity and add the Name and Email of the desired external participant.
  4. Use the plus button to add any additional external participants.
  5. Click Save to save the selection.

This will then send an email notification to the external participant using the Instance creation notification template. 

You must add all of the desired external participants at the same time as you will be unable to repeat this action once you click Save

Viewing as an external participant

Once you have invited the external participant by entering their email address they will receive an email notification. They will then need to follow these steps:

  1. Open the email notification and click the link (this will take them directly to the performance activity).
  2. Complete the activity.
  3. Click the Submit button to save and submit their responses. 

The external participant will be able to use the link to access the performance activity as many times as necessary. This means they can Save as draft if they are not able to complete the activity in a single session. 
If the subject instance is closed then the external participants link will still work but they will no longer be able to complete the activity and will instead see a message informing them the activity is closed. 

Totara Academy

The Totara Academy has a whole course dedicated to Running successful check-ins in Totara. Here you can learn more on how to set up and use performance activities for check-ins, see best practice, and give it a go yourself.

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