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Selection of Rating Scales
Human Resources » Performance Management

Chrm Message From: tesmian Total Posts: 63 Join Date: 02/08/2006
Rank: Manager Post Date: 10/11/2011 00:20:49 Points: 315 Location: Afghanistan

Dear All,

Although some performance management rating scales only have two categories – such as meets expectations and needs improvement -- the most common debate is whether to use three, four or five rating categories.

While some HR professionals will argue that five scales are too many, others will argue that three categories do not give raters enough choice. Some believe that a scale with an odd number forces raters to pick the middle rating yet other HR professionals suggest that an even scale forces raters to make unwanted decisions.

Ratings can be numerical, descriptive (or narrative), comparative, behaviorally anchored or linked to identified competencies. An example of a descriptive scale from the BC Public Service included here relates to problem solving ability. Rater choices include: "defines the problem, identifies the cause of the problem, identifies possible solutions, recommends a solution." Each category has points assigned which can be totaled for a final performance score.

Examples of rating scales with five categories are listed below:

1) excellent, very good, fully effective, requires attention, inadequate


2) consistently meets expectations, often exceeds expectations, meets expectations, some improvement needed, major improvement needed

Perhaps the following advice will make selecting the right rating scale easier.

Jeff Weekley and Jeff Labrador suggest in a Kenexa newsletter that it is important to identify “which KPIs a job impacts and then measure the ways by which it is expected to do so” when designing a performance management system. Dick Grote, an expert on performance management advises organizations to avoid numerical scales. He also recommends –in his book The Performance Appraisal Question and Answer Book – that “it’s a good idea to vary the number of levels and the labels or descriptors used for the assessments of different elements within the body of the form.”


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