What is Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale?

Meaning & Definition

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale

A Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) is a performance appraisal and evaluation method that combines the elements of both a traditional rating scale and a critical incident technique. BARS is designed to provide a more structured and detailed assessment of an individual’s performance by using specific, observable behaviors as anchors for rating scales.

How does a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) work?

  • Identifying Key Behaviors

The first step in creating a BARS is to identify the key behaviors that are relevant to the job or role being assessed. These behaviors should be observable, measurable, and representative of effective or ineffective performance.

  • Generating Critical Incidents

Critical incidents are specific, real-life examples of behavior that illustrate effective or ineffective performance. These incidents are collected through observations, interviews, or surveys involving individuals who are familiar with the job in question.

  • Behavioral Anchors

Critical incidents are then used to create descriptions of behavior at different levels of performance, such as “excellent,” “good,” “average,” and “poor.” These descriptions serve as anchors for the rating scale.

  • Scoring

During the performance appraisal process, the rater (usually a supervisor or manager) assesses an employee’s performance by comparing their behavior to the descriptions provided in the BARS. This results in a score or rating for each behavior.

  • Feedback and Development

The feedback provided through BARS is specific and actionable. It helps employees understand what they are doing well and where they need improvement. This information can be used to guide performance improvement and development plans.

Advantages of a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) include:

  • Specific Feedback

BARS provides detailed and specific feedback to employees, making it easier for them to understand their performance strengths and weaknesses.

  • Reduced Subjectivity

The use of specific behavioral anchors helps reduce the subjectivity that can be present in more general rating scales.

  • Objective Assessment

BARS focuses on observable behaviors, which can make the assessment process more objective.

However, creating and implementing a BARS can be time-consuming and may require a significant amount of data collection and analysis to develop the critical incidents and behavioral anchors. Additionally, the process may be more complex than traditional rating scales, and raters need to be well-trained to use BARS effectively.

Overall, a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale is a valuable tool for performance assessment when organizations aim to provide detailed and behavior-focused feedback to employees. It is often used in conjunction with other performance appraisal methods to create a more comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s performance.