Behaviorally Anchored rating scales (BARS)

An appraisal method that aims at combining the benefits of narrative critical incident and quantified ratings by anchoring a quantified scale with specific narrative examples of good and poor performance.

A BARS is an appraisal tool which anchors a numerical rating scale with specific behavioral examples of good or poor performance. It thus combines the benefits of narratives, critical incidents and quantified (graphic rating type) scales. Its proponents say it provides better, more equitable appraisals than do the other tools we discussed.

Developing a BARS typically requires five steps:

1) Generate critical incidents: Ask persons who know the job (jobholders and / or supervisors) or describe specific illustrations (critical incidents) of effective and ineffective performance.

2) Develop performance dimensions: Have these people cluster the incidents into a smaller set of (5 or 10) performance dimensions, and define each dimensions such as salesmanship skills.

3) Reallocate incidents: To verify, have another group of people who also know the job reallocate the original critical incidents. They get the cluster definitions (from step 2) and the critical incidents and must reassign each incident to the cluster they think it fits best. Retain a critical incident if some percentage (usually 50% to 80%) of this second group assigns it to the same cluster as did the first group.

4) Scale the incidents: This second group then rates the behavior described by the incidents as to how effectively or ineffectively it represents performance on the dimensions (7 to 9 point scales are typical).

5) Develop a final instrument: Choose about six or seven of the incidents as the dimension’s behavioral anchors.

Research insight: Three researchers developed a BARS for grocery checkout clerks. They collected critical incidents, and then clustered these into eight performance dimensions:

1) Knowledge and Judgment
2) Consciousness
3) Skill in Human Relations
4) Skill in Operations of Register
5) Skill in Bagging
6) Organizational ability of Check stand work.
7) Skill in Momentary Transactions
8) Observational ability

They then developed behaviorally anchored rating scales (similar to the one in Figure below) for each of these dimensions. Each contained a scale (ranging from 1 to 9) for rating performance from extremely poor to extremely good. Then a specific critical incident (such as by knowing the price to items, this checker would be expected to look for mis-marked and unmarked items) helped anchor or specify what was meant by extremely good (9) performance. Similarly they used several other critical incident anchors along the performance scale from (8) down to (1).


Examples of BARS for the Dimension salesmanship skills:

Salesmanship Skills>>>

Skillfully persuading prospects to join the Navy, highlighting the benefits and opportunities for effectively selling the Navy, closing skills, adapting selling techniques appropriately to different prospects, effectively overcoming objections to joining the Navy.

9 –

A prospect stated he wanted the nuclear power program or he would not sign up. When he did not qualify, the recruiter did not give up; he talked to this young man into electronics by emphasizing the technical training he would receive.

8 –

The recruiter treats objections to joining the Navy seriously; he work hard to counter the objections with relevant positive arguments for a Navy career.

7 –

When talking to a high school senior, the recruiter mentions names of other seniors from that school who have already enlisted.

6 –

When an applicant qualifies for only one program, the recruiter tries to convey to the applicant that it is a desirable program.

5 –

When a prospect is deciding on which service to enlist in, the recruiter tries to sell the Navy by describing Navy Life at sea and adventures in port.

4 –

During an interview the recruiter said to the applicant. I’ll to get you the school you want but frankly it probably won’t be open for another three months so why don’t you take your second choice ad leave now.

3 –

The recruiter insisted on showing more brochures and films even thought the applicant told him he wanted to sign now.

2 –

When a prospect states an objection to being in the Navy the recruiter ends the conversation because he thinks the prospect must not be interested.

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