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Behaviorally anchored rating scale (BARS):

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS) is a performance appraisal technique developed by Smith and Kendall for assessing the performance of an employee as part of an appraisal process. Measuring and rewarding performance is a critical function of the Human Resource department. The measurement should be conducted in a free and fair manner in which both the management and the employee have confidence. There are a number of measurement scales proposed by management pundits. All of them have their own advantages and disadvantages. BARS or Behaviorally anchored rating scales is one of them. BARS involves measuring the critical areas of performance in any job profile. The rating scales are designed to identify the areas of performance. The person who evaluates the employee during appraisal is expected to closely monitor the employee in his workplace. He later compares the performance of the employee vis--vis the rating scales. There are different ways in effectively structuring a BARS system. They are: 1. Identification of Critical Incidents: This step involves supervisors and other in authority identifying specific incidents of effective and unsatisfactory behavior. These incidents should be related to the job performance. 2. Selection of performance dimensions: These incidents are further dissected into performance dimensions. An average of 5 to 7 performance dimensions is ideal. This classification is based primarily on the Critical incidents selected. 3. Retranslation of the incidents: Another group of participants who are familiar with the job are asked to reclassify the critical incidents initially selected. This is done to safeguard against individual bias. There needs to be an agreement of 75% of the panel for the incident to be included in the rating procedure. 4. Assignment of values to the incidents: The individual incidents are now rated based on the performance dimensions. The rating scale usually ranges from 1 to 7. A rating of 1 indicates an ineffective and unsatisfactory performance, while a rating of 7 indicates an effective or satisfactory performance. The ratings thus arrived at are then subjected to mean and standard deviations. Incidents which have standard deviations of 1.5 or less find a place in the final scales. 5. Developing the Final rating document: The behavioral anchor for the ultimate performance dimensions is the subset of the incidents selected. The BARS in its final form is composed of a set of vertical scales and the corresponding incidents which endorse them.

While this system appears to be logical and with inherent safeguards against the effects of bias and preconception, it has its own share of advantages and disadvantages. Advantage of BARS: 1. A more Accurate Gauge: People who know and do the job and its requirements better than anyone develop the BARS. 2. Clearer Standards: the critical incidents along the scale make clear what to look for in terms of superior performance and so forth 3. Feedback: The critical incidents make it easier to explain the rating to appraise. 4. Independent Dimensions: Systematically clustering the critical incidents into five or six performance dimensions should help to make the performance dimensions more independent of one another. 5. Consistency: Bars based evaluation also seem to be relatively consistent and reliable in that different raters appraisal of the same person tend to be similar.

The advantages are that since the ratings are by people who are familiar with the working environment they have a greater chance of being accurate. This also involves participation by the workers to a considerable degree. It is also specific to the particular job function and rates behavior that can be observed easily. However, critics point out that despite its intuitive appearance, the system has some inherent downsides. The designing of effective BARS is time-consuming in the first place. The behaviors used for rating are more activity oriented rather than result oriented. This leads to a situation where the supervisors will have to give a higher rating to employees who are just involved in an activity, but does not show result.

Are Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales Superior To More General Approaches? As with most things related to performance management the success of a BARS (behaviorally anchored rating system) approach to employee reviews depends on how well the system is implemented. In theory, a BARS system, if properly implemented should result in fairer, and more accurate assessments of employee performance. In

theory, they are indeed better than more vague rating systems where it's hard to get any two people to agree on what a particular rating item means. However, BARS still involves RATINGS, and ratings still have inherent flaws, the most notable being that ratings themselves (let's say assigning some number to "reflect" performance) are not very helpful in helping employees improve performance because too much information is lost. Another problem is that there is a tendency for people to believe that BARS system ratings are objective, and that is definitely not the case. Ratings cannot, by definition, be objective, because they involved labeling and generalizations. The issue with BARS is that it requires extensive upfront analysis necessary to identify the job behaviors. Without that, it's no improvement. And, if you are going to invest all that time into the upfront analysis, maybe it makes more sense to use that data without a rating system per se, or use it in a way similar to how goals and objectives are used in a Management by Objectives system (MBO).