BARS has been around for ages now, I have realised of its true potential over the past year and I want to share how impactful it can be.
Some of its impacts are on
1) Selecting the right candidate using BARS as an Assessment criteria in a Behaviour Event Based Interview
2) In Rating Competencies during performance Appraisals
3) In highlighting behaviours that need to develop/improve for a person to move to the next level
4) To give a standardized/uniform way of measureing and nalysing competencies in an organisation.
The following is an excerpt that I have taken from an article:
I am also attaching a example of a BARS chart.
INTRODUCTION:WHAT IS A BEHAVIOURALLY ANCHORED RATING SCALE?
The specific purpose of the Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scale is to
use behavioural procedures to design an instrument that can identify
and measure the critical components that constitute effective
performance in an occupation. The instrument has been used to identify
performance competencies in such occupations as Nurses (Smith and
Kendall, 1963), store managers (Campbell, et. al., 1973), college
professors (Harrai and Zedeck, 1973) and for identifying the
professional and career development activities needed by teachers
(Erffmeyer and Martray, 1988). The instrument allows for researchers
to "capture performance in multidimensional, behaviour-specific terms"
(Anshel and Webb, 1989).
A scale is constructed by developing a series of critical anchors or
competencies that are perceived to represent effective performance in
an occupation. Each competency area is then defined as a series of
precise and specific indicators or dimensions. These indicators are
written as specific behaviours which can be observed, rather than
inferred. Each set of indicators is designed to represent the specific
skills associated with effective performance in the competency area.
As Smith and Kendall (1963) proclaim, the instrument is "rooted in and
referable to actual behaviours".
To ensure content validity a representative sample of the targeted
population or occupation is used to construct each rating scale
(Erffmeyer and Martray, 1988). Generally this procedure involves
selecting individuals because of their expertise in the area of
investigation. Individuals are split into groups and go through
identical processes to develop the scale. Behavioural anchors or
competencies are identified as well as the dimensions or indicators in
each competency area. Smith and Kendall (1963) maintain that these
procedures allow for an instrument to be developed in the language of
occupation that is being investigated, therefore increasing its face
validity. Once constructed, a rating scale is then administered to a
wider sample of the targeted occupational population. Respondents are
asked to indicate on a five point Likert scale their perception as to
how essential each competency area is to effective performance. Each
competency can be rated or each individual indicator (Campbell, 1973).
Erffmeyer and Martray (1988) included another dimension to this step by
asking respondents to also indicate, on a five point scale, the level
of difficulty they experienced in developing each skill area.
After a scale has been administered it is then evaluated as to the
level of how essential the competencies and the indicators are
perceived to be. The criterion for inclusion on the final rating scale
of an indicator or competency is a mean essential ranking of greater
than or equal to 3.5 and a standard deviation of less than 1.2 (Smith
and Kendall, 1963).
THE USE OF BEHAVIOURALLY ANCHORED RATING SCALES
Behaviourally anchored rating scales (BARS) provides a procedure to
overcome some of the inherent weaknesses typically associated with
traditional rating scales.
Gay (1981, 128) generally suggests that rating scales have problems
with "halo effect" and "generosity error". "Halo effect" refers to the
situation where ratings are influenced by a raters' positive feeling
towards the person they are rating. "Generosity error" refers to the
situation in which a rater gives higher ratings than they otherwise
might. This generally occurs when a rater does not have enough
information to make an objective rating and as a result the ratee
benefits from any doubt that may exist, with a high rating (Gay, 1981).
Another problem associated with rating scales is when "trait type"
scales are used. Often the dimensions used in trait type scales are
ambiguous. This results in threats to the internal validity of the
Smith and Kendall (1963) and Campbell (1973) argue that these problems
can be overcome through the use of Behaviourally Anchored Rating
Scales. The strength of these scales is in the level of precision and
specificity that occurs in the procedure for design and construction.
Firstly, identified items for rating are at all times defined in
specific behavioural terms. In addition, the scales measure
performance, rather than behavioural or effectiveness. Campbell et.
al. (1973) specify that performance is behaviour that occurs in a
Effectiveness is also not measured with the scale. The reason being
that effectiveness is influenced by too many variables out of the
control of an individual. As Campbell et. al. (1973, 15) maintain:
The crucial distinction between performance and effectiveness is that
the latter does not refer to behaviour directly but rather it is a
function of additional factors not under the control of the individual.
In utilising Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scales the following process
needs to be undertaken.
1.Generation of expert panels. Two panels of "experts" who due to
their knowledge and experience in the area of study, are able to design
an instrument to assess quality performance.
2.Designing a questionnaire based on a 5 point Likert scale of
"competencies" required to measure performance.
3.Validating the instrument by sending the questionnaire to a wide
4.Analysis of the results.
These types of rating scales are particularly effective for assessing competencies, skills and abilities.
BARS rating scales are highly valid and job-related because important job requirements are covered.
Objective benchmarks are provided against which observations can be rated, therefore, there is less rating error than when using other types of scales (e.g. numeric).
BARS scales take some time and effort to create and usually cannot be used for job types other than those for which they were developed.
Developing a BARS Scale
Using subject matter experts, identify examples of job performance behaviours reflecting all different levels of effectiveness ranging from ineffective to superior for all the different parts of the job. These are key indicators only. It is not required to be an exhaustive list of every possible criterion. You may have already identified these behaviours when you conducted your job analysis to establish the qualifications and competencies. If so, use them here.
Examples are then clustered by content and categories of job performance and ranked according to importance.
Major, essential, or core criteria are distinguished from those that are minor or secondary within the group.
Tip: Focus on the extreme ends of each range (i.e. the 5 and the 0-1 points) and describe them fully first OR focus on describing the "3 or 4 Point" passing answer first, then add or subtract to define other answers.
Decide how many points will be awarded and how irrelevant or incorrect responses will be scored. A wrong answer should result in a failing grade.
Assign marks that reflect the relative importance of the question and the competency being assessed.
The scale may be multiplied by a factor to increase the overall weighting. For example, a 5-point scale is multiplied by a factor of 4 to increase the weight of the assessment to 20 points in the overall competition.
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All of a sudden, this thread has enlivened after eight years!
BARS is old hat. It measures behaviour. Interpretation of behaviour is always subject to interpretation or even manipulation. Likes and dislikes influence the rating. That is why the world has moved toward a quantitative rating. Rather than rating the behaviour, it is better to rate the outcome of the behaviour that is in tangible form. Businesses run on numbers. Investors invest based on the anticipated returns. They do not look at the behaviour of the CEO and draw satisfaction on the returns that they get.
Let me give you an example of what I have given in my earlier replies also. Suppose a Purchase Manager is due to handle project purchases. For this, he does thorough market research, vendor research. This market information gives him an edge in negotiations and he negotiates very effectively to contrives win-win outcome. Since he works at his work desk and conducts in the board rooms, his boss might not come to know the spadework of purchase manager. Therefore, there is a possibility of overlooking of competencies of the Purchase Manager by his boss who could be CFO or CEO. Against this backdrop, who will be responsible for the wrong rating of the Purchase Manager?
Above all, while rating behaviour, talking parrots are given prominence over flying parrots. There are smart chaps in this world, who know very well, how to manipulate the behaviour of others. Let us not ignore this fact!
The article does not take into account the demerits of BARS completely. Article adumbrates in just a line and says how time-consuming BARS is. I checked the internet and found the following pros and cons of BARS: