What is Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)?

Definition and examples of Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)
By Abhishek Kathpal Updated 10 August, 2022

Companies have been using the Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) to manage workers' performance for a long time. The companies dedicate time and resources to building and maintaining these scales, which is why they are still in use. Logically, their function is simple. Employees need to exhibit appropriate behavioral patterns when approached by clients, and the scales aid the enforcement of such patterns.

What is Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) meaning and definition

Assessing the performance of newly hired workers or trainees using well-defined behavioral patterns is possible with the behaviorally Anchored Rating scale (BARS). When structuring interviews, BARS is a vital component, and Individual worker is rated using these patterns.

Many errors are encountered with the use of the traditional rating scales. Thus, the need to develop a new scale to minimize these errors brought BARS into existence. Through these scales, it is possible to obtain quantified ratings, critical incidents, and quantitative and qualitative data. BARS system implementation requires time and resources; therefore, HR and management must remain dedicated to the process. A correct definition of critical responsibilities, performance, and accurate rating of scales require skills that the company needs to have.

Examples of Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales

Using the customer service representative job as an example of the Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales:

  1. A rep answering the phone after ringing once or twice with a friendly greeting may be the assumption of a level four rating.

  2. Answering the phone when it rang once with the correct company greeting may be the assumption of a level six rating.

However, suppose it was to be the traditional rating scale. How the employee answers the phone on time or without courtesy is the question that will need answering. The traditional rating scale uses the following:

  1. Always

  2. Usually

  3. Sometimes

  4. Not Often

  5. Never

How to Measure BARS?

Employers need to be aware of the performance of their workers, and BARS do this by providing them with qualitative and quantitative data. The data is obtained when the performance of each employee is compared to a unique example of behavior. It is then followed by categorizing and assigning a numerical value to the data to serve as the basis for rating performance. The creation of the critical incident technique (CIT) is the first thing to do to measure BARS. Comparing the employee's performance to unique examples of behavior with a numerical rating ranging between 5 and 9 is the work of the technique. Then, creating a performance dimension that requires compulsory double-checking is the next thing to do. The final instrument is obtained after scaling the critical incidents.

Pros of Using BARS

  1. Evaluation of the managers and the workers is possible using specific standards. The detailed narrative sample on every grade makes it easier to understand its usage.

  2. Fairness and equality are properties of the scales, making it objective since the behavior is the main focus of the employee evaluation.

  3. The main focus of the scales is the behavior of the employee. It helps enhances the understanding of the managers and workers on what the job involves, what needs to be done, and the way to do it. The employee's performance improves with BARS since the employee will strive for excellence. Performance expectations are established with BARS.

  4. The designing and structuring of BARS are applicable to each employee and job position within the organization.

Cons of Using BARS

  1. The major disadvantage of the scales is that it is individualized. A big company with plenty of workers will spend a lot of time and resources carrying out BARS for individual employees and their job position within the organization.

  2. There is a need for detailed information about the workers, so the manager's presence is needed. Therefore, without proper motivation and dedication, the manager may be unavailable.

  3. The appraisal cannot contain all the expectations for a position in the company. In the long run, the manager tends to lose sight of the big picture.

Uses of BARS

BARS is used in aligning job positions with business priorities which is why many companies use behavioral anchors. Each employee will have a complete profile which will serve as a guide throughout their stay in the company. Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales are helpful in the following areas:

  1. Talent Acquisition: Obtaining the right candidate for the job is easier when the behavior required for that position is known. Thus BARS is used in conducting and evaluating structured interviews.

  2. Learning and Development: Targeting specific behavioral groups makes it easy for managers to coach and develop employees.

  3. Performance Management: Managers can obtain feedback and evaluate the performance of the employee

  4. Career Pathing: Growth planning and mentoring are essential for top talent with BARS; they will have a direction.

  5. Succession Management: Enables identification of talent gaps with the availability of unique performance dimensions.

  6. Culture: Culture can impact a company's growth. Thus, the appropriate behavior is needed.

About the Author

Abhishek Kathpal

Abhi is the co-founder at Longlist.io. Funded by US based OnDeck, Longlist is currently enabling 50+ businesses to increase their candidate and client reach outs, automating the workflow across stages.

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