What is a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)?

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale, also known as BARS, is an old method of scale that is used to rate the performance of a team. Despite the fact that the method is ancient, HR professionals and experts still use this strategy to measure performance through behaviors. How does that happen? Read the complete article to know the in-depth details.

What is the Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale? – Definition of BARS

The Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale rating scale uses “statements” of behavior instead of general adjectives on regular or graphic rating scales. With the BARS technique, an employee’s performance is evaluated against particular instances of conduct and performance dimensions rated numerically to gather data on the employee’s performance.

To learn more about the BARS method via video, then watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.

To improve the correctness of a student’s grade, teachers assign specific actions for evaluation. Since each job in an organization has its own distinct set of behaviors to evaluate, you depend on universally appropriate behaviors. Preliminary studies have shown the subject of basic rating measures is reduced by using traditional rating scales with particular work behaviors. To determine whether it’s real, we’re going to investigate this further.

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale Examples

For now, let’s take a look at some instances of the BARS system.

Customer Service Representative

Here’s the evaluation of a customer service representative’s job:

  • Assuming the agent “answers the phone with a polite welcome” after one to two rings, a category four rating is assigned.
  • A representative with a category six rating is assumed to “answer the phone after one ring with the suitable business greeting.”

Its common practice to rating employees’ and individuals’ performance on specific behavioral patterns like how quickly and courteously they answer the phone, using a typical rating performance system asking, “1-never, 2-non frequent, 3-from time to time, 4-frequently, 5-always.” It’s easy to understand how the more precise BARS approach will affect the appraisal’s conclusion.


Here’s the evaluation of a nurse’s performance dimensions:

  • A nurse who receives a level 4 rating is seen as “empathetic.”
  • A level six rating implies that the nurse “demonstrates better understanding and empathy in all interactions with the patient’s family.”‘


Here’s the evaluation of a waiter’s job:

  • Waiters at this level of service are expected to “chat on the phone while taking orders.”
  • According to a level 4 assessment, it is assumed that the server “makes eye contact with clients throughout every transaction.”
  • Waiters at a level 6 establishment should “welcome guests with a smile and provide recommendations from the menu depending on personal preferences.”

In other words, what are the positives and negatives?

Despite the usefulness of these examples, not all aspects of Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales are flawless. One should weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether or not to make the switch. Take a look at the next sections to get an idea of the pros and cons of a behaviorally anchored rating scale.

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How to Develop a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale?

The steps listed below will aid in the creation of the final product:

Process to develop behaviorally anchored rating scale (BARS)

  • Compile a list of examples of good and bad conduct in the workplace. It is pretty uncommon for people to make use of the Critical Incident Techniques
  • Analyze quantitative data in terms of performance by using behavioral examples
  • Have SMEs adapt their findings around their performance metrics
  • Use a five-to-nine-point scale to rate the remaining behaviors
  • To have SME consensus on behavior evaluations, throw out the higher deviating requirements
  • As a result, adjust the final scale to reflect this

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale Advantages and Disadvantages

Here you can find the pros and cons of the BARS strategy:

Pros of BARS

The following are some of the advantages of employing the BARS strategy:

Benefits of using BARS strategy

  1. It’s simple to use, which is always a plus. Evaluating an employee is less complicated because the standards on which they are judged are defined
  2. It’s based on how you act. In the end, the purpose of an employee’s evaluation is to help them perform better. Knowing more about how people behave and why they do it gives a company a new perspective on improving
  3. It is unbiased. The BARS assessment procedure is more equitable because of its emphasis on conduct
  4. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience. You can tailor an organization’s performance management based on an employee’s specific role with the help of BARS


Cons of BARS

The following are drawbacks of using the BARS strategy:

  1. It takes a long time to complete. A business with a wide variety of positions would have to spend a significant amount of time and money building a customized experience for each part
  2. It is expensive. The value of time is not overstated. Also, it is practicable in the near term for smaller firms with different functions
  3. It needs a motivated management staff. All of the employee appraisal process, assertions, and anchors require writing. It’s a lot of work, and supervisors have to engage with a better focus
  4. It can have a propensity towards favoritism. An assessment can be discriminatory; however, BARS eliminates this possibility. Some argue that we can still make the leniency mistake

Who Should Use BARS?

When weighing the benefits and drawbacks of employing Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales, it becomes clear that this approach is best suited to more influential organizations with the financial wherewithal to see the project through to completion. As a result, the organization must establish precise time and commitment requirements for its executives.

Instead of having many separate roles, the organization should have groupings or divisions of comparable tasks. If you run into issues with bias in your present performance management method, BARS is a helpful tool for assessing personnel.

Because of their focus on conduct, these assessments are impartial and difficult to sway. Also, to succeed, you need a plan.

It is suggested that you examine BARS in-depth before incorporating it into your performance handling strategy. It would be best if you had a thorough grasp of a traditional rating scale of the process to implement it in the correct way for your own company. Having a team on board is also essential. Managers should engage in-depth, as said earlier.


The behaviorally anchored rating scale is a quantified rating strategy for measuring performance based on different behaviors compared to a specific positive behavior. The metrics are noted on a scale points ranging from 5 to 10 points. Despite the fact that this strategy is in practice for tens of years, it provides a great strategy to judge performance metrics. If you’re looking to develop a behaviorally anchored scale, feel free to go through the above-mentioned steps.


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Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.