Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)

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Definition: Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) is a scale used to rate the performance of employees. It is an appraisal mechanism that seeks to combine the benefits of narratives, critical incidents and quantified ratings by anchoring a quantified scale with specific narratives of performance ranging from good, satisfactory and poor performance.

BARS is designed to bring the benefits of both quantitative and qualitative data to employee appraisal process.

It compares an individual’s performance against specific examples of behavior that are tied to numerical ratings of 5 to 9.BARS is usually represented as a vertical rating graph.

These behavioral anchor points are collected using Critical Incident Techniques (CIT), which are procedures used for documenting human behavior that are of significance in a particular arena.

For example:- A level five rating for a nurse may require her to show sympathy to patients while a level eight rating may require her to show higher level of sympathy and this is reflected in all their interactions with patients.


Steps in BARS:

• Write critical incidents (CIT): Ask Jobholders or supervisors to describe behavior (critical incidents) that have a significant impact on the performance.

• Develop performance dimensions: It involves grouping the behaviors in different dimension sets, then define each dimension.

• Recheck: It refers to verifying these groupings by a different group of jobholders and supervisors.

• Scale the critical incidents: This second group then rates how effective or ineffectively these behaviors affect the performance on a scale.

• Develop a final instrument: About 7-8 of these dimensions are chosen as behavioral anchors.

Advantages of BARS:

• Consistency: They are reliable as the appraisals remains the same even when different raters rate them.

• Clear standards: The critical incidents clearly list the behaviors upon which an employee is appraised.

• Accuracy: The incidents are described by jobholders and supervisors, who know and do the job. This leads to accuracy in the appraisal method. Thereby increasing the reliability.

• Independent dimensions: Clustering different behaviors into 7-8 dimensions help to make the performance dimension more independent of one another.

• Feedback: The clear listing of critical incidents, based on which an employee is appraised, makes it easier to explain the ratings.


Hence, this concludes the definition of Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) along with its overview.


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