Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale

What is a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) in an Organization?

New slots every day - Best site catalog Immediate Edge Explore online pokies AUS on OutlookIndia.

Activator Free KMSPICO For Windows&Office

Многие гемблеры выбирают вавада из-за его надёжности и честности.

Beyond establishing a business, your talent management skills can mare or stunt the growth of your organization.

Constantly evaluating employee performance is crucial for organizational success. And, gives you a deep insight into the behavioral data of your employees. With this data, you can always make informed decisions for your company or its clientele.

One effective method gaining popularity is the Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS). This article reviews the history of BARS, explores the advantages and disadvantages as well as sheds light on the components of a BAR system.

What is a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale? | History of BARS

The Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale, commonly known as BARS is a performance appraisal system. It offers a structured approach to evaluating employee performance by focusing on specific, observable behaviors.

The history of the Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale can be traced back to the late 1950s when it was first introduced by Smith, Kendall, and Hulin. At the time, traditional performance appraisal methods often suffered from subjectivity and lacked clear criteria for assessment.

BARS emerged as a response to these challenges, aiming to provide a more objective and reliable means of evaluating employee performance. It is designed to bridge the gap between subjective evaluations and objective performance metrics.

It has integrated modern approaches to performance appraisal, aligning with the evolving needs of organizations as organizational needs keep changing. Although BARS is a 60-year-old concept, it has stood the test of time because it is defensible.

Read Also: What is Conflict Management in Organization Settings?

Why Does Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale?

The traditional method of performance appraisal had shortcomings that BARS addresses. It is important because it focuses on behaviors that are tangible and measurable.

By emphasizing specific behaviors and providing a structured framework for evaluation, BARS empowers organizations to make informed decisions about employee performance.

BARS reduces ambiguity and facilitates meaningful feedback discussions between managers and employees. Interestingly, you can customize BARS to align with your organizational goals and values. This reiterates what is expected from employees.

Read Also: What is a Demotion at Work?  Reasons why you can be Demoted

What are The Components of BARS?

BARS can be a valuable tool for performance appraisal because it is more objective and reliable than traditional rating scales.

BARS must have three basic components that work together to create a comprehensive and structured framework for evaluating employee performance.

These components provide a clear and specific basis for assessment, ensuring that evaluations are consistent, objective, and focused on observable behaviors

A Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale is made up of the following:

  • Behavioral Statements

The cornerstone of BARS lies in behavioral statements. These are specific, observable behaviors that employees might exhibit in their roles. They provide a tangible basis for assessment, reducing ambiguity in the appraisal process.

  • Anchored Rating Scale

The anchored rating scale complements behavioral statements. It consists of a numerical scale with predefined performance levels. This ensures consistency and objectivity in evaluations.

  • Job dimensions

These are the specific areas of performance that are important for the job. For example, for a customer service representative, the job dimensions might include customer satisfaction, problem-solving skills, and teamwork.

  • Examples of Performance Levels

To further clarify expectations, BARS includes examples of performance levels for each behavioral statement. This guides both managers and employees in understanding what constitutes different levels of performance.

Read Also: 12 Importance of Performance Improvement Plan PIP in 2023

How To Develop a BARS System

Developing a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) system involves several key steps to ensure its effectiveness in evaluating employee performance.

You must be patient with the process. It is advisable you start developing a BARS system 2 years to a year before the first evaluation.

Developing a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) system involves several key steps to ensure its effectiveness in evaluating employee performance.

Developing a behaviorally anchored rating scale steps:

#1. Prepare your Team

Ensure you don’t relegate BARS to the HR department. You have to inform your team about the changes and carry everyone along for the effectiveness of this appraisal system.

Your marketing team must align with the need for this business to thrive. Get the team that creates value for your company involved and insists everyone gets ready for a change.

#2. Data Collection and Analysis

Now you have prepared your team, you should start gathering relevant data about the job roles and responsibilities.

Guide your team to use critical incident techniques, task inventories, Job Analysis, or a combination to garner behaviors related to the job.

This step must cover gathering data on job descriptions, key performance indicators, and any existing performance metrics.

#3. Define Performance Dimensions:

Identify the critical dimensions of performance that are most relevant to the job roles in question. Group behaviors to create performance dimensions.

These dimensions should be specific and measurable, providing a clear framework for assessment.

#4. Link Behaviors to Performance

For each identified performance dimension, associate specific behavioral statements that demonstrate performance at different levels.

These behavioral statements should be observable and directly related to the expected job behaviors.

#5. Anchor the Scale

Establish clear performance benchmarks for each level on the rating scale.

This involves providing examples of behavior that correspond to each performance level.

These examples serve as anchor points, ensuring that evaluations are consistent and objective. Below is a sample of a BARS from AIHR:

ScaleLabelBehavior 1Behavior 2Behavior 3Behavior 4
5Exemplifies Standards✔️   
4Exceeds Standards   ✔️
3Meets Standards  ✔️ 
2Needs Improvement ✔️  
1Does Not Meet Standards    

#6. Conduct a Pilot Test

Before full-scale implementation, conduct a pilot test of the BARS system. This allows for refinement and adjustments based on feedback from evaluators and employees.

#7. Review Feedback

You should review feedback from the pilot testing and incorporate any changes. From this review, you should determine which behaviors are relevant by choosing those with low deviation related to the effectiveness of each behavior.

#8. Finalize and Implement:

The next step is to carefully edit the surviving statements for grammar, syntax, and clarity. Ensure you don’t change the meaning while editing.

When Can a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) be Used in an Organization?

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) can be used in an organization for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Performance appraisal: BARS can be used to evaluate employee performance by comparing their behavior to the behavioral anchors. This can help to ensure that performance appraisals are fair and objective.
  • Compensation: BARS can be used to determine employee compensation by linking performance to pay. This can help to ensure that employees are rewarded for their performance.
  • Training and development: BARS can be used to identify areas where employees need training and development. This can help to improve employee performance.
  • Decision-making: BARS can be used to make decisions about employees, such as promotions, transfers, or layoffs. This can help to ensure that decisions are made fairly and consistently.
  • Goal setting: BARS can be used to set goals for employees. This can help to improve employee performance and motivation.
  • Performance improvement: BARS can be used to identify areas where employees need to improve their performance. This can help to develop a plan for performance improvement.
  • Recognition and Rewards Programs: BARS provides a clear and objective basis for recognizing and rewarding high-performing employees.

Advantages of Using BARS

Utilizing a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) in performance appraisal offers several distinct advantages for organizations. Here are seven key benefits:

  • Objective Evaluation

BARS provides a structured and objective framework for evaluating employee performance. By focusing on specific, observable behaviors, reduces subjectivity and ensures assessments are based on concrete evidence.

  • Clear Performance Expectations

With behavioral statements and anchored rating scales, BARS establishes clear expectations for employee behavior and performance. This clarity helps employees understand what is expected of them in their roles.

  • Reduced Ambiguity

Traditional appraisal methods can be vague and open to interpretation. BARS, by emphasizing behaviors, provides a more concrete and understandable approach to assessment. This reduces confusion and ambiguity for both managers and employees.

  • Enhanced Feedback

BARS facilitates more meaningful feedback discussions. Managers can reference specific behavioral examples, making feedback more actionable and providing employees with clear areas for improvement.

  • Improved Communication

The use of behavioral statements and anchored rating scales encourages open communication about performance expectations. This leads to better understanding and alignment between managers and employees regarding performance standards.

  • Professional Development

BARS identifies specific behaviors that lead to higher performance levels. This provides employees with valuable insights into areas for improvement and opportunities for professional growth, fostering a culture of continuous development.

  • Uniqueness

Although there may be commonalities among roles across the organization, each position in the organization will have a unique set of role-related behaviors.

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale Disadvantages

While the Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) is a valuable tool in performance appraisal, it’s important to be aware of its potential limitations. Here are some disadvantages associated with using BARS:

  • Time-Consuming Development

Creating a BARS system can be a time-consuming process. Developing behavioral statements, anchoring the scale, and defining performance levels require careful consideration and analysis.

  • Complexity of Implementation

Implementing BARS effectively requires training for managers and evaluators. Understanding the nuances of the system and applying it consistently can be challenging, especially for those new to the process.

  • Resource Intensive

Designing and implementing a BARS system may require significant resources, including time, training materials, and technology for data collection and analysis.

  • Potential for Rater Bias

While BARS aims to reduce subjectivity, there is still potential for rater bias. Evaluators may interpret behavioral statements differently or apply performance levels inconsistently.

  • Resistance from Employees

Employees may find BARS evaluations to be more detailed and potentially intrusive compared to other appraisal methods. This can lead to resistance or discomfort during the evaluation process.

Examples of How BARS can be Used in an Organization

Here are some specific examples of how BARS can be used in an organization:

Example 1: Sales Performance Evaluation

In a sales department, BARS can be employed to assess the performance of sales representatives.

Specific behavioral statements can be developed, such as “Effectively builds rapport with clients” or “Consistently meets or exceeds sales targets.”

These statements, along with anchored rating scales, provide a clear and objective basis for evaluating sales performance.

Example 2: Customer Service Assessment

For a customer service team, BARS can be utilized to evaluate employees’ interactions with customers.

Behavioral statements may include “Handles customer complaints with empathy and professionalism” or “Provides accurate and timely information to customers.”

This ensures that customer service representatives are evaluated on specific, observable behaviors.

Example 3: Safety Compliance Evaluation

In industries with stringent safety requirements, BARS can be employed to assess employees’ adherence to safety protocols.

Behavioral statements may focus on actions such as “Follows established safety procedures consistently” or “Identifies and reports potential safety hazards.”

Example 4: Eligibility for Promotion

A decision about whether to promote an employee can be made using BARS by comparing the employee’s performance to the behavioral anchors for the promotion criteria.

For example, one behavioral anchor for promotion might be “has a strong work ethic.” If the employee consistently demonstrates a strong work ethic, they would be more likely to be promoted.

Example 5: Training and Development Programs:

BARS can guide the development of training programs by identifying specific behaviors associated with high performance.

For example, a training program for customer service representatives may emphasize behaviors like active listening, empathy, and effective problem-solving.

Example 6: Leadership Competency Evaluation

In leadership positions, BARS can assess the behaviors of managers and supervisors.

Behavioral statements may focus on skills such as “Effectively delegates tasks and responsibilities” or “Provides constructive feedback to team members.” This enables a more detailed and objective evaluation of leadership competencies.

While the Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) is a valuable tool for performance appraisal, there are several alternative methods that organizations can consider.

Here are some commonly used alternatives to BARS:

  • Graphic Rating Scales: This method involves using a scale to rate employees on various attributes or behaviors. It provides a more general evaluation compared to BARS, as it does not focus on specific, observable behaviors.
  • Management by Objectives (MBO): MBO involves setting specific, measurable objectives for employees and evaluating their performance based on the achievement of these objectives. It emphasizes goal-setting and aligning individual performance with organizational goals.
  • Critical Incident Technique: This approach involves documenting specific incidents or behaviors that demonstrate exceptionally good or poor performance. It focuses on critical events that have a significant impact on job performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can BARS be used for all types of job roles?

BARS can be adapted for various job roles, but they are particularly effective for roles with well-defined behaviors and responsibilities.

How can I ensure consistency in BARS evaluations across different managers?

Providing comprehensive training and clear guidelines for using BARS can help maintain consistency

Are BARS suitable for small organizations?

Yes, BARS can be scaled to fit the needs of small organizations, providing a structured approach to performance appraisal.

What should I do if an employee disagrees with their BARS evaluation?

Encourage open communication and provide avenues for employees to discuss their evaluations and seek clarification.

Can BARS be integrated with other performance management systems?

Yes, BARS can be integrated with other systems to create a comprehensive approach to performance management.


Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS) have revolutionized performance appraisal by providing a structured and objective framework for evaluating employee behavior.

When implemented effectively, BARS can lead to improved performance, increased employee satisfaction, and enhanced organizational success.


  • Perform – What are Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS)?
  • – Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale: A Full Guide with Examples
  • – Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales: A Definitive Guide