Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS) definition

Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS) are designed to bring the benefits of both qualitative and quantitative data to the employee appraisal process. BARS compare an individual’s performance against specific examples of behaviour that are anchored to numerical ratings.

For example, a level four rating for a nurse may require them to show sympathy to patients while a level six rating may require them to show higher levels of empathy and ensure this comes across in all dealings with the patient.

The behavioural examples used as anchor points are often collected using Critical Incident Techniques (CIT), which are procedures used for documenting human behaviour that have significance in a particular area.

BARS was originally developed to counteract the perceived subjectivity in using basic ratings scales to judge performance, although BARS is still subject to criticism. It is often accused of being subject to unreliability and leniency error.