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Behaviorally anchored rating scale (BARS)

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Behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS) directly assess performance behaviors. The BARS method depends on critical incidents or short descriptions of effective and ineffective behaviors that ultimately produce a number value. The assessor is responsible for rating the specific behaviors of an employee based upon the behavioral expectations that are provided as anchors. When rating the employee, most employers prefer to also provide written feedback for why the employee received a specific rating.

“Typically, supervisors rate several performance dimensions using BARS and score an employee’s overall job performance by taking the average value across all the dimensions” and “because the critical incidents convey the precise kinds of behaviors that are effective and ineffective, feedback from BARS can help an employee develop and improve over time.”

Source: Colquitt, J.A., Lepine, J.A., & Wesson, M.J. (2011). Organizational behavior (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. (Note: This textbook is not available from the Trident Online Library).

Behavioral Anchored Rating Scales (BARS)

Two Assessment Area Examples:

Oral Communication: Organizes thoughts and expresses them in a clear and logical manner, quickly comprehends another’s meaning, uses appropriate vocabulary, correct grammar, and appropriate non-verbal communication (gestures, etc.).

  1. Expresses ideas clearly and concisely.
  2. Answers questions completely and precisely. Speaks with a voice that exhibits an appropriate command presence.
  3. Relates thoughts in an organized manner. Gives concise answers to questions. Demonstrates effective active listening behaviors (e.g., leans forward, nods in agreement, repeats statements back, verbalizes understanding).
  4. Clearly enunciates words. Attentively leans forward.
  5. Voices ideas randomly or several at a time.
  6. Interrupts others inappropriately. Excessive use of filler words, phrases (umm, like I said, etc.)
  7. Fails to listen to questions asked by role player(s). Uses incorrect words or grammar in responding to questions.
  8. Takes too long without making a point.
  9. Uses profanity.

Problem Analysis & Resolution: Ability to critically evaluate a situation, gather and analyze relevant information, identify underlying issues, assess alternative solutions, and to consider the implications of problems and potential solutions.

  1. Identifies possible resources to resolve problem. Deals with problems before they worsen.
  2. Ensures a follow up plan is established. Develops alternative approaches to deal with the problem. Verbalizes the impact on the organization as a whole (morale, operations, budget, etc.). Thoroughly considers relevant information.
  3. Provides feasible solutions; considered feasibility of alternatives. Makes suggestions for resolving the problem.
  4. Assures adherence to standards.
  5. Is unable to support conclusions with facts or logic.
  6. Fails to consider alternatives.
  7. Considers only a portion of the available information. Abdicates responsibility, blames others.
  8. Waits until a problem has worsened before dealing with the problem.
  9. Fails to act.

Source of the above examples: The City of Columbus, Civil Service Commission. Behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS). Slide presentation retrieved from

SLP 2 Assignment:

  • Following the examples above, create a similar BARS instrument (based on your current position) with at least FIVE different areas of assessment. Meet with a colleague or supervisor to have him or her evaluate your behaviors. Discuss the results with your colleague/supervisor to figure out where you scored highest and where you scored lowest.
  • Write a paper discussing the following issues:
    • Your results
    • The process you went through
    • How your instrument can be adjusted for optimal results
    • What the strengths and weaknesses of BARS are
    • How the feedback from the BARS can help an individual improve over time
    • How BARS compares to two other performance appraisal processes
    • Other recommendations you may have

This pragmatic approach will help you get into the routine of continuously being evaluated. You will submit both the BARS instrument that you created and the paper.

Bring in at least 2 library sources to help strengthen your discussion.

Your paper should be at least 2-3 pages, (not including the cover sheet and reference list). Deal with these issues in an integrated fashion, not as a series of individual questions.

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