Rating scales and behavioural anchors


Rating scales and behavioural anchors

  • By Ian Bradley
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Almost everyone involved with employee performance ratings is dissatisfied. That includes employees who are fixated on the actual numbers as well as the HR developers who spend perhaps too much time developing the behavioural descriptors of what is being measured. The academics pursuing validation studies are also dissatisfied since there tends to be little variance about the mid-point of the scale in any validation study.   Dr Joel Moses, a renowned assessment center pioneer recently published an article that called attention to a neglected area – the behavoural anchors of the scale. Moses developed a rating scale with a midpoint of:

“What would be expected of an experienced X”

(where X could be a minister, executive director, or school director). This enabled the raters to have a specific reference point rather than using the arbitrary terms such as “average, meets expectations, or meets objectives.”

A five-point scale would be anchored as follows:

5: You have “wowed” us with your exceptional performance.

4: We are very pleased with what you have done.

3: This is what we expect of an experienced property manager.

2: Consider this as an early warning signal that this aspect of your performance needs to be improved.

1: Unless significantly improved soon,we may need to take some performance actions.


Revisiting the Anchors Used in Supervisory Appraisals:The Industrial Psychologist

April 2014 Volume 51 Issue 4