Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales Law & Legal Definition


Behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS) is an appraisal method that measures behavior against levels of performance. BARS combine elements from critical incident and graphic rating scale approaches. The supervisor rates employees according to items on a numerical scale.

BARS uses judgmental measures developed to define the rating points in relation to actual work behaviors. Steps in the process include:

  • Generation of critical incidents (examples of effective and ineffective behavior).
  • Refinement of the critical incidents and the creation of performance dimensions (the overall qualities defined by specific critical incidents).
  • Verification check of the relationship of critical incidents to performance dimensions.
  • Rating of the effectiveness of each incident as evidence of one’s performance on the dimension.
  • Assembling the final BARS form, often a 10-point scale constructed for each of the performance dimensions and placement of critical incidents in the scales.

Some of the purposes of using BARS include:

  • Use as a decision aid
  • Helping to manage changes to identify individuals for promotion & to facilitate lateral transfers
  • To reward good performance: merit-based salary and benefits, promotions
  • Addressing poor performance: firing decisions
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of other organizational programs (selection, training, etc.)