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Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS)

Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS)The Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) is a rating system for measuring employee performance and is considered an accurate approach.

BARS focuses on specific, key behaviors, allowing it to measure almost any skill or competency.

Key Concepts

The BARS system:

  • Uses observable behaviors to determine performance levels for a given skill.
  • Defines levels, called Anchors, against which performance is measured.

Note that Anchors are generally derived from the critical incident technique (CI).

What Is The Critical Incident Technique?

Dr. Kurt Lewin developed the CI method starting in the 1930s.  He believed that people were more likely to change their behavior when they knew what others around them were doing.

He also believed that people would change their behavior if they could see how others behaved.

Dr. Lewin created a series of questions that asked people about specific situations where they had observed someone else behaving in a certain way.

These questions were designed to help people identify the situation, understand why the person acted this way, and then make changes to improve their behavior.

How Do you Use BARS?

  • You must first identify the behaviors you want to measure.
  • For each behavior, a scale ranging from 0-100 is created.
  • The scale includes Anchors, which will define behaviors that must be demonstrated to achieve that level.
  • Employees are then observed in the workplace and rated against the scale and anchor.
  • Employees are provided with input on how they score.

For best results, employees and managers should then collaborate on addressing any areas requiring improvement, and then the observation and scoring process is repeated.

Pros of BARS

  • It can be used to measure almost any skill or competency.
  • It provides a clear picture of current performance.

Cons of BARS

  • It requires time and effort to create the scales and anchors.
  • It may not be appropriate for all skills and competencies.

What Questions Remain

What else would you like to know about the Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale?

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