What Is BARS (Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales)

BARS refers to Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scales. It was developed by Smith and Kendall to provide a better method of rating employees. It differs from "standard" rating scales in one central respect, in that it focuses on behaviors that are determined to be important for completing a job task or doing the job properly, rather than looking at more general employee characteristics (e.g. personality, vague work habits).

So, rather than having a rating item that says: Answers phone promptly and courteously, a BARS approach may break down that task into behaviors: For example:

  • Answers phone within five rings.
  • Greets caller with "Hello, This is the Dinkle Company, how may I help you?"

Notice how the BARS items are describe the important BEHAVIORS. Once those behaviors are identified for a particularly job, or employee, the items can be used to base a numerical or performance label on, let's say a five point, or seven point scale.

See Also: Are Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales Superior To More General Approaches?


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Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992 by consultant and book author, Robert Bacal. Robert's books on performance management and reviews have been published by McGraw-Hill. He is available for consultation, training and keynote speaking on performance and management at work.


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