What Is A Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale?

A behavioral rating tool can turn out to be a powerful tool for employee evaluation. Irrespective of the type of company you are working for, if you can use behaviorally anchored rating scales, it will identify the most productive employees and improve the work culture. Researching this topic can be useful for a company and your career.

The Definition Of A Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale

A simple definition of a behaviorally anchored rating scale is that an employee’s performance is measured based on predetermined behavioral patterns.

The process uses a vertical scale that relies on ratings from five to nine, specifying different performance degrees.

he managers who use it must figure out what tasks an employee can perform.
The behavioral rating scale can measure an employee’s individual performance, as specified behavior on a scale is relevant for a specific role within an organization.

For this reason, the manager’s behavior needs to be as specific as possible. Among the many advantages of behaviorally anchored rating scales are the following:

  • Talent acquisition: the recruiters are fully aware of the behaviors they are looking for in a specific candidate, giving that candidate a better chance of selection than the qualified ones.

  • Performance management: Using pre-determined behavioral patterns for employee performance evaluation is one of the common benefits of this scale.

  • Employee development: managers can use this scale to establish specific employee behavioral targets.

  • Growth planning: managers can choose the behaviorally anchored rating scale when providing a direction for employee growth.

  • Succession management: Being aware of the specific ideal behavior would make it easier to identify the current employees who have in them the ability to reach higher goals.

  • Company culture: the company’s stakeholders can aim to enhance the company’s culture by identifying undesirable behaviors.

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale Pros And Cons

The following are the Pros of using a behaviorally anchored rating scale:

  • Easy to use: A properly implemented behaviorally anchored rating has superior, detailed behavioral examples for every rating. This makes it easy for the managers and the employees to have a concise understanding.

  • Objectivity: One of the main reasons for the popularity of behaviorally anchored rating scales is their higher degree of objectivity. Rather than relying on a simple subject evaluation of the manager, it will compare behavior to predetermined examples of behavior.

  • Performance standards are clarified by using a behaviorally anchored rating scale for measuring an employee’s performance, making it easy for them to decide what they need to improve.

  • Ease of use: If the behaviorally anchored rating scale is properly implemented, it has gone on to detailed behavioral examples when it comes to every rating. This would make it easier for the managers and the employees to understand.

  • Highly individualized—when it comes to behaviorally anchored rating scales, it would allow managers to evaluate all employees in an organization individually.

  • Consider employee behavior; the behaviorally anchored rating scale would concentrate on employee behavior as they aim to execute. It becomes a straightforward task for both the employee and the employees to outline the exact cause of success and failure in an organization.

  • Action-oriented: the moment you define specific and desirable actions, employees are aware of which areas they need to improve and what the expectations are from each of them. This, in turn, ensures that they go on to reach higher performance levels.

The following are the Cons of using a behaviorally anchored rating scale:

  • It takes a lot of time to develop and implement. Considering that behaviorally anchored rating scales require a level of individualization, the process of creating one for every person in an organization turns out to be difficult. It is worth it, as the improved performance of the staff can take up most of the time in implementing the scale.

  • Could miss out on certain performance indicators; in a behaviorally anchored rating scale, it would be difficult to include all the job expectations, making it difficult to rate some of the employees. Even in such cases, this would make the job of an employer easier, as it provides them with an objective basis for their evaluation.

  • Requires the expertise of knowledgeable managers. Creating and implementing a behaviorally anchored rating scale calls for detailed information about every employee and their role within the company. Though this can be an issue, it can be an effective way of measuring an employee’s performance.

  • Requires frequent updates: Certain roles have ever-changing standards and requirements, and their behaviorally anchored rating necessitates frequent updates or new information. This proves to be an effective method for staying up to date on industry developments.

How Do You Develop A Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale?

Even the best performance management modules will fail unless your organization is prepared for change.

You should start your project a couple of years before the first day an evaluation is due. The reasons are mentioned below.

  • Most of the initiatives fail to achieve the desired results due to a lack of support from top management. Another issue is that there is a failure to cope with the change. It would be better if you could prepare the executive team to lead; the first communication has to come from the CEO. They need to be completely transparent about the goals and objectives of your organization. If you don’t get that engagement, the feeling is that HR will be called in.

  • The employees need to be aware of their performance criteria before the period of evaluation begins.

  • It may take a lot of months to formulate performance dimensions or behaviors that would depend upon SMEs’ availability.

  • If you are moving from periodic to regular and continuous strength-based feedback, Now, in such scenarios, you will have to launch your own behavioral anchors to encourage those frequent conversations and set the tone for an annual performance review.

  • In performance conversations, you would need to upskill your managers.

Here is what a typical behaviorally anchored rating scale should look like in your organization:

Formulation Of A Governance Team

An attempt is to be made to align people with the profitability and purpose of the organization.

This is because everyone wants to be a part of a winning team. You may reach out to leaders in your organization who understand your commitment to the success of the business. Look for people who can add value to your organization.

Performance insights are gained if you look at performance through the eyes of someone who would make it happen.

Include marketers in your team, as it is all about relationships. Focus on developing your internal communication.

Assembling and preparing your team of experts

You should get commitments from the subject-matter experts who are expected to guide your teams.

You may consider using teams of experts in each job group under the guidance of HR classification experts.

When grouping performance dimensions, an indicative approach is appropriate, as is a deductive approach when specifying domains.

Then the SMEs would develop behavioral patterns among themselves.

Identify behaviors

Ensure that your team uses task inventories, critical incident techniques, job analysis, or a combination of all related to the job that may be effective or ineffective. A template can be used to work through this process.
The statements can be edited into a standard format, and redundancies are removed.

Hence, you need to identify the commonalities for the creation of the performance dimensions.

Establishment of performance dimensions

Group behaviors are not expected to create performance dimensions. A supply chain manager, for example, may include warehouse optimization, communication, and supplier negotiation functions.

The behaviors are to be retranslated.

The second group of SMEs will then align each critical incident response or behavior to the performance dimensions that align it with the best.

Scale incidents and behaviors

The behaviors have to be sorted on a rating scale based on SMEs’ evaluation of how effective they are.

You are going to find that there is no statement for every performance level, so your team has to deal with those filling in the blanks.

Retaining relevant behaviors

You need to determine which behaviors are relevant and choose the low deviation that would be related to the effectiveness of each behavior.

If there is a scarcity of performance data, you must rely on the expert’s judgment. You need to look at the constructive validity related to the performance level.

The final version is to be developed.

Finally, you need to edit the syntax, clarity, and grammar, taking care to preserve its meaning.

Examples Of A Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale

Below are examples of behaviorally anchored rating scales for a couple of positions.

Example 1

When implementing a behaviorally anchored rating scale for a salesperson, you can follow the below-mentioned behavioral patterns.

  • *5: The salesperson is constantly distracted and keeps staring at his phone when customers ask questions about their products.

  • **6. The salesperson constantly makes mistakes when showing the customers how the products work and how they will improve their lives.

  • **7. The salesperson correctly answers all the customers’ questions regarding the products they are interested in.

  • **8. The salesperson resorts to using numerous techniques to help the customers imagine how the products would fit into their day-to-day lives.

  • **9. The salesperson answers all the questions posed by the customer and increases the customer’s desire to purchase the products they are interested in. Based on their initial queries, they may be shown additional products in which they may have been interested.

Example 2

When you are implementing a behaviorally anchored rating for a customer service employee, the following behavioral patterns can be used:

  • *5: easily irritated by customer feedback and inquiries that insult them.

  • *6: is not that knowledgeable or has enough information about a company or product to dish out vague or false information.

  • *7. The company database is used to search for queries related to customer inquiries and then inform the customers.

  • *8: Respond to the customer’s queries in a cordial and friendly manner, and at the same time, thank them for choosing the company.

  • **9: Optimal solutions and answers are provided to customers’ queries while displaying professionalism and friendliness. This will convince the existing customers to do business with the company in the future.

Who Is It For, And What Are The Applications For?

The behaviorally anchored rating scale requires a significant amount of time and managerial commitment, as well as resources, and is best suited for organizations that have the necessary administrative and financial health.

It also works well for a business that has certain fixed criteria or departments and not a lot of individual departments.

Apart from that, for the companies that have gone on to experience bias in their recent performance, these evaluation methods would turn out to be helpful.


The success of any business is dependent on how the team members perform, either individually or collectively.

Optimization of team performance calls for a superior level of understanding of employee dynamics, performance indicators, and what each employee needs to do at an individual level.

At this juncture, BARS has an important role to play. Yes, for each employee, it may be tricky to design a BARS, but the managers who are willing to put in the effort are likely to enjoy the benefits of a rating scale that is personalized and free from bias.

Rather than shooting in the dark, an employee will be aware of the specific areas they need to improve and be motivated when it comes to learning and development.

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