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The BARS Approach

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Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales, also known as BARS, are a type of performance management scale that use behavior “statements” as a reference point instead of generic descriptors commonly found on traditional rating scales. Designed to add the benefits of both qualitative and quantitative information to the appraisal process, BARS measures an employee’s performance against specific examples of behavior that are given a number rating for the purpose of collecting data

Establishing specific behaviors for grading, are meant to give the rating a higher degree of accuracy relative to performance. This is because you’re relying on unique, individual behaviors required for each individual position within an organization, instead of behaviors that can be evaluated in any position across the board. It is presumed that using a rating scale with specific behaviors for selected jobs, minimizes the subjectivity in using basic ratings scales. We’ll take a closer look at this later to see if it’s true.

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If you’re looking to shake up the way you appraise your employees, you may want to try a method that views and assesses your team members as individuals rather than simply numbers on a list - and gives them meaningful feedback on how to improve and enhance their approach to workplace excellence

BARS - Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales - are one of many ways that conduct agent performance evaluation. It is seen by many as a more modern approach, since it focuses more on employee behaviors and the employee as a person, rather than simply the straightforward productivity and output of the staff member while they are at work. This method dives deeper than most appraisal methods. Instead of providing a general list of items that can be checked off and compared across any position within the company, it focuses on behaviors to evaluate individual performance within the specific position each employee works. This offers a highly accurate, in-depth picture of how each staff member is performing and what improvements need to be made. The scale used for BARS assessment is an easy-to-understand 1-5 scale, with five being the highest level of performance and one being the least desirable. Perhaps the biggest sticking point for many employers when considering utilizing the BARS method in their facility is the individualized approach it requires. Especially in larger companies, this simply isn’t practical in many cases. While breaking down agent performance evaluation into departments or groups can help work around this issue, it can still be difficult to adequately focus on each person and their behavior on an individual basis the way the method requires when you have hundreds or even thousands of employees on-site. The use of the method can also be rather high-maintenance and demanding of managers, especially if one person or a small group are expected to conduct the majority of the appraisals. Since each person being evaluated needs individual attention, it becomes necessary to break the task up between larger groups of management team members. This is perhaps one of the only ways to make this method work properly in the contact center setting; otherwise, evaluations might take all year to finish!

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Majority of organizations in both private and public sector have moved towards enhanced openness in the appraisal process. This is done through free exposure of appraisal report and its contents to employees being apprised. The trend by organizations towards openness has been encouraged by a number of factors, such as: increased application performance appraisal methods that are result oriented that stem from the philosophy of management-by-objectives changing social climate, stressing participation and involvement and feedback as a basis for development; and the increasing influence white collar unions, encouraging nee for mutual trust (towers, 1996, p. 199). Organizations at all levels cannot operate a performance appraisal scheme that is result oriented without openness. This is because the approach needs superiors and subordinates to identify and set goals that are seen by both as realistic for subordinates. The agreed goals where possible translate into measurable objectives. This has become the basis for subsequent evaluation of subordinate’s performance in majority of organizations (Towers, 1999, p. 120).The evidence here shows that a rising number of organizations understand the need of open communication in performance appraisal process. Most organizations recognize the importance of openness to apply to those aspects concerned with current performance. Those parts that are undisclosed relate to evaluation of an employees future performance (Towers, 1996, p. 201)

Performance appraisal has been given a legal dimension which varies from country to country. Data Protection act in the UK, for instance, provides individual employees the legal right to access personal data. This includes information about them contained in appraisal documents, if it is stored in the computer. The Act also defines personnel data and covers both factual and evaluative information. This implies that employees could access opinions about them expressed in appraisal documents (Chandramohan, 2006, p. 139).

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In sum, sometimes the listed behaviors still don’t include certain actions required of the employee, so managers can have difficulty as signing a rating. It’s high maintenance. Jobs change over time, which means that BARS requires a high degree of monitoring and maintenance. It’s demanding of managers. In order to successfully conduct BARS evaluations, managers need detailed information regarding the actions of their employees

Gathering such data can be quite time-consuming, and many managers end up letting this slide.

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Edwards, J. , scott, J., & Raju, N., 2003. The Human Resource Program Evaluation Handbook. New York: Routledge.

Chandramohan, A., 2006. Human Resource Management. New York: APH Publishing.

Schuter, R., Jackson, S., 2007. Strategic Human Resource Management. New York: Wiley & Sons.

Towers, B., 1996. The Handbook of Human Resource. New York: Wiley & Sons.

Wilton, Nick., 2006. Human Resource Management. New York: Routledge.

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