Megha’s workplace has quarterly performance appraisals. As a new employee, Megha is yet to be evaluated based on her performance. She has heard from her seniors that her organization uses the behaviorally anchored rating scale to ensure objective and fair performance reviews.

The behaviorally anchored rating scale, or BARS, is a tool to measure performance in the workplace. It helps organizations, leaders and managers rate their employees on a predetermined scale, such as 1-5, with 5 being the highest. Many organizations use different methods and types of performance management systems. But the BARS performance appraisal method is becoming increasingly popular.

In Megha’s case, her workplace relies on the BARS appraisal method because they find it’s an accurate assessment of an employee’s performance.

Let’s discuss the BARS method of performance appraisals with examples to understand why it’s widely-used today.


  1. What Is The Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale?

  2. What Is The Use Of The Critical Incident Report?

  3. Example Of Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale

  4. The Importance Of The BARS Method Of Performance Appraisals

  5. Manage Teams For Business Success

What Is The Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale?

BARS or a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale is a measure of performance based on a numbered scale like 1-5 or 5-9. Each organization determines how its employees have done with ratings and grades based on this predetermined scale. A number of measures like appraisals, incentives, increments, promotions and new opportunities are decided based on an employee’s BARS performance appraisal.

These scales define critical incidents or specific, important situations that speak of an employee’s behavior or performance. For instance, you may have been asked to rate a customer service representative from your bank after a call. Organizations often reach out to customers to help them understand their employees’ behavior. They’ll ask that you rate your call on the basis of questions like:

  • Did our representative greet you at the beginning of the call?

  • Were they able to understand your query?

  • Did they offer you options and solutions to your problem?

  • Was your query resolved?

The feedback received will then be used to determine whether the representative performed as expected or if they need more training.

Here are some characteristics of the behaviorally anchored rating scale:

  • It’s used to measure whether an employee is delivering as per expectations

  • It helps managers understand specific behaviors associated with specific situations

  • It’s a fair and objective method to rate an employee

  • Since it’s based on behaviors and performance, it’s detailed and critical

  • It’s an individualized performance appraisal method to make sure every employee is evaluated as thoroughly as possible

The BARS method of performance appraisals is an extensive performance management system. Organizations spend a lot of time and resources to develop a system that’s sound and effective. Many rely on critical incident reports to come up with specific instances to measure performance. Let’s find out what these are.

What Is The Use Of The Critical Incident Report?

How an organization creates a BARS performance appraisal report is by converting data into performance metrics. This data is collected in several ways, one of which is the critical incident report.

A critical incident report is used to study incidents that make an impact or can be studied for the purpose of performance measurement. For instance, a sales executive making house calls to clients is a critical incident. This is because their behavior directly impacts the business. Another example can be pitching to a client. If you’re pitching to a client and it works out in your favor. This can be a critical incident for your BARS appraisal.

Data is collected on the basis of these incidents where respondents share their stories, how they felt and the outcomes. These parameters then help organizations build reports used as the first step in the BARS appraisal method. Converting this data into metrics helps individualize performance appraisals for employees.

Example Of Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale

A behaviorally anchored rating scale is job and role-specific. For instance, a marketing associate and a sales associate will have unique signifiers as performance metrics.

Let’s take an example of behaviorally anchored rating scale:

Madhu is a junior designer at a graphic design studio. Her team has just wrapped up working on a series of graphic novels for young adults. After months of editing, redesign and feedback, the novels are finally in line for publication.

As their work is done, her studio is ready for appraisal season and they want to use the BARS method of performance appraisals. Here are the steps they follow for Madhu:

  • They first assign a rating of 1-5, with 5 being the highest

  • They finalize the metrics as communication, quality control, follow-through, turnaround time and teamwork

  • They pick incidents like implementing client feedback on time, brainstorming with the team and changing colors of the layout at the last minute

  • They assign Madhu ratings of 4 and 5 for her specific incidents after discussion with her manager

  • Madhu receives a final rating of 4, which is excellent considering she’s a junior designer

BARS is an effective performance management system that’s based on an employee’s performance. Each employee’s contribution to specific incidents must be acknowledged so their performance measurement is fair and justified.

The Importance Of The BARS Method Of Performance Appraisals

Now that we’ve understood how a BARS appraisal method works, let’s understand why it’s important in the modern workplace.

  1. Streamlined Performance Appraisal

As the method suggests, each scale is defined in terms of behaviors and attitudes to a particular situation, project or incident. This helps leaders and managers follow the process from start to end without confusion or overlap. It’s easier to measure an employee’s performance based on their behavior. They’ll be more confident to speak about these incidents, how they felt, discuss their strengths and weaknesses and support their claims with evidence.

  1. Fair, Objective And Free From Bias

The method is free from bias compared to other methods of performance management such as general reviews or manager-led reviews. The scale is determined for each individual and is tailored to their performance. Managers can determine each employee’s performance and behavior based on specific tasks. This helps managers make informed decisions free from biases. They’re able to take an objective stance and assess the situation holistically.

  1. Behavior And Performance-Based

A BARS method is based on an employee’s behavior and performance. That means how you complete your tasks, outcomes and results will be used to measure how well you did. It can be uplifting for employees when performance is based on what they do instead of vague constructs that are applied to everyone. You may even find yourself putting in more effort to meet deadlines, produce quality work and get along with your team. Your job is all about how well you do, your learnings and growth. A performance management system that takes notice of that is a great measure of success.

  1. Employee-Specific

Each scale is specific to employees so no two scales are the same. If you and your colleague are working on different things, you won’t be judged on the basis of the same parameters. Keeping with your job role, your goals will be different and so will your performance dimensions. This also feeds into how BARS is a more objective way to review performance. It also helps to build confidence, collaboration and teamwork by minimizing unhealthy competition.

  1. Boosts Morale

Most of all, the BARS appraisal method boosts employee morale because you can see that it’s a bias-free method to measure performance. You’re working hard to achieve your goals and if you’re boxed in like other employees, you may feel it’s unfair. This can lead to job dissatisfaction as well. But if your actions are acknowledged without comparison or based on what others are doing, you’ll feel more confident about your position in the organization.

Implementing a BARS performance appraisal method can be a great way to build effective teams. Every member will learn to rely on others without a sense of competition. The overarching goals of the organization is what everyone’s working toward. Getting there shouldn’t mean pitting co-workers against one another. . Performance measurement should be done to help employees learn on the job so they can deliver even better outcomes. With BARS, you can learn more about yourself as an individual and an employee.

Manage Teams For Business Success

As they say, “teamwork makes the dream work”. A successful business is the result of collaboration, cooperation and teamwork. When people work together, without bias and personal interest, they’re able to achieve optimal results. Learn more about how to use performance management systems for effective teams with Harappa’s Managing Teamwork course. You’ll learn about team dynamics, team culture and different work styles. Understanding what makes a great team is the first step to achieve organizational goals. Not only will this help you during appraisals, it will also encourage you to get along with your coworkers. Enroll today and embark on your journey to becoming a reliable team player and an indispensable employee.

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Performance Appraisal, the Objectives Of Performance Appraisal and 360-Degree Performance Appraisal Harappa to become a well-rounded professional.

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