November 3, 2012

MU0016 [Performance Management and Appraisal] Set2 Q5

Q5. What is BARS explain in detail.


Behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS) are a combination of the critical incident and rating scale methods. Employee performance is rated on a scale but the scale points are anchored with critical incidents. The development of BARS is time consuming, but the benefits make it worthwhile. The BARS approach not only meets EEOC guidelines for fair employment practices but it may improve reliability of personnel assessment and enhance communication when evaluating employees (Maiorca, 1988; Shultz and Shultz, 1995).

* Assess performance in terms of specific behaviors that are critical to the job, rather than in terms of general traits or abstract constructs.
* Eliminate the use of potentially misleading numerical and volume measures that are not readily interpretable.
* Reduce rater bias and error by anchoring the rating with specific behavioral examples based on job analysis information.
* Minimize evaluators' impreciseness, subjectivity and failure to identify the essential functions of the job.

In general, approximately two to three months should be allowed for BARS construction for any given position. The BARS approach seems to be most effective when psychometric principles for constructing it are followed.

Number Of Participants
A sufficient number of supervisors and incumbents are needed in order to develop a collection of critical incidents. The actual number of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) needed would depend on the numbers of incumbents and available resources. At least eight to 10 (preferably more) SMEs are needed to independently sort the critical incidents into categories. At least eight to 10 (preferably more) different SMEs will be presented with entire sets of critical incidents, with each critical incident on a separate card and all cards mixed together to sort them back into original categories. The same SMEs will then rate each critical incident on some convenient numerical scale, generally containing from four to nine points. Four points has been found to be sufficient. One SME will provide a final check on the wording of items, descriptions, labels, etc. Finally, a few SMEs who will use the new instrument will be asked to examine and critique the form.

Step 1. Gathering Critical Incidents
Fortunately, research has shown that critical incidents based on recall are just as useful for instrument construction as critical incidents based on direct observation of job behavior (Campion, Greener and Wernli, 1973). Thus, critical incidents can be gathered either by interview or by written questionnaire; there is no need to actually observe the work being performed. Because of their extensive opportunities to observe job behavior, employees performing the job and their supervisors, should, in most cases, be queried (Saskin, 1981).

The following is a list of critical incidents (behaviors that result in good or poor job performance) that might have been developed for a secretarial position.

Critical Incidents
1. Knows the difference between correcting the grammar in the principal's letter and correcting the writing style.
2. Keeps running count on the use of office supplies.
3. Opens all mail whether or not it is marked "confidential".
4. Confuses priorities on typing that needs immediate attention and projects that have no established deadlines.
5. Files away correspondence so that it can rarely be found for later reference.
6. Leaves many mistakes in typing from failing to proofread the typed copy.

Step 2. Sorting Critical Incidents Into Categories
At least eight (preferably more) SMEs - people who have some basic familiarity with the type of work being appraised - will independently sort a set of critical incidents (typed on individual cards) into as many categories as they choose. If a job analysis has resulted in categories of job behavior, these categories should be used, but additional categories may also be created. The result is a given number of performance dimensions, each containing several illustrative critical incidents.

Step 3. Analyzing Categories
The sets of categories are examined for consistency. This step is tedious but important. In some cases, categories will be combined, and some idiosyncratic categories will be eliminated. Judgment plays an important part in this process. At least four specific concerns must be addressed and resolved (Saskin, 1981).
1. Is the category important enough to be used in appraisals?
2. Does the category represent a particular aspect of work behavior?
3. Are the categories reasonably independent? There should be little or no overlap.
4. Have any important categories of job behavior been omitted?

Step 4. Developing Critical Incidents
This step involves three specific activities:
1. The critical incidents in each category are examined and redundancies are eliminated.
2. The remaining critical incidents are edited for clarity, grammar and style.
3. Additional incidents are written to illustrate borderline passing and borderline failing performance levels.

Critical incidents, by definition, represent extreme behavior - extremely good or extremely bad (Flanagan, 1954). A complete scale, however, requires items that illustrate all levels of performance. When Step 4 is accomplished, the set of categories will contain critical incidents that describe a full range of behaviors from very good to very poor. The incidents will be clearly written and will not overlap.

Step 5. Scale Retranslating
New SMEs are given entire sets of critical incidents, with each critical incident on a separate card and all cards mixed together. Each SME must then sort them back into the categories that were defined in Steps 2 and 3. If any of the resorted categories are inconsistent with the original categories, they are eliminated. Furthermore, items not consistently sorted are also removed. A critical incident generally is said to be successfully retranslated if some percentage (usually at least 80 percent) of the raters reassign it back to the dimension from which it came (Smith, 1963).

As an example, let us assume that as a result of this process we end up with the following four categories for a secretary assessment program:
1. Assessing problems in office management and organization
2. Making recommendations for office management and organization
3. Interpersonal relations
4. Use of the language.

Step 6. Developing Numeral - Scale Values For Critical Incidents
Once again, SMEs receive the categories and incidents. Each SME rates each incident with some convenient numerical scale, generally containing four or more points. For each critical incident, the range and standard deviation of SME ratings are computed (Maiorca, 1991). Critical incidents that receive widely varying ratings (high range and standard deviation) are eliminated. The scale values are usually derived by averaging the ratings.

The average score is obtained for each incident not eliminated. The critical incidents are now ready to place on the scale forms at the appropriate point. Critical incidents that have a standard deviation in excess of 1.50 typically are discarded because the raters could not agree on their respective values. The final form of the instrument consists of critical incidents that survived both the retranslation and standard deviation criteria. The critical incidents serve as behavioral anchors for the performance dimension scales. The final BARS instrument consists of a series of scales listed vertically (one for each dimension) and anchored by the retained critical incidents (See Table 1). Each critical incident is located along the scale according to its established rating. The BARS is job specific. That is, you need to develop a different behaviorally anchored rating scale for every job (Dickerson, 1980).

Step 7. Preparing Final Instrument Draft
Besides concern for the physical arrangement of the instrument, a final check on the wording of item, descriptions, labels, etc., is appropriate at this point.

Step 8. Reliability, Pretesting And Debugging
SMEs who will use the new instrument are asked to examine and critique the form. If their comments point to serious deficiencies, some of the previous steps must be repeated.

Once established, any evaluator can use the BARS approach to assess any employee for a given position with the least amount of subjective input. The old maxim that you get what you pay for certainly applies in this instance of appropriate BARS construction. If the steps given here are followed correctly, the result is likely to be a well-designed instrument that can be validated.

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