Behavioral approach of measuring performance of employees

By Abhinash & Indra Giri on May 16, 2017

There are various methods that organizations adapt to measure employee performance such as:

  • comparative approach,
  • attribute approach,
  • behavioral approach,
  • result approach and
  • quality approach.

The behavioural approach is the most commonly adopted approach and comprises vertical scales that are based on certain parameters. Organizations use the following techniques to measure employee performance:

  • Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)
  • Behavioral Observation Scale (BOS)

The BARS technique contains five to ten scales which are based on parameters that are mutually agreed upon by the employees. The BOS  technique, on the other hand, is an improved version of the BARS technique and has its own advantages vis a vis the latter. This technique provides more specific data on employee performance, thus resulting in a better measure of his or her performance. The average of all the frequencies of data is taken as a result of that particular parameter. This technique is more reliable and accurate than the BARS technique (Bohlander & Snell, 2007).

Features of behavioral approach

The behavioural approach has many features which are the reason it is most commonly used to assess the performance of employees. The foremost reason is that it makes them understand their employees, their behaviour, and their working pattern which is the most important part of performance assessment. This approach monitors various parameters such as employee satisfaction, turnover rate, a span of control, etc.

The behavioural approach automatically links performance with the achievement of goals, conflict of interest, control, and reward. Thus, it helps make management make decisions and monitor organizational goals easier. Because of its reliability and accuracy, proper performance appraisal results in employee satisfaction which in turn affects the growth of the organization. Performance appraisals also motivate employees to perform even better in the future. Hence, this approach plays a critical role in the process of performance measurement, reward, and motivation (Schiehll & Morissette, 2000).

The behaviour of employees can be assessed either in groups or as an individual. When the behaviour of employees is assessed in groups, it is known as a group behaviour approach, while the interpersonal behaviour approach is used to assess individuals.

Advantages of the behavioural approach

As discussed above, the behavioural approach is reliable and accurate, and that is why it is the most commonly used approach in the industry for the performance evaluation of employees. This approach helps managers to understand their employees in a better way by keeping a record of their employees. Understanding employee behaviour leads to easy communication between workers and management.

Here, the focus is on an individual’s psychology, human relations, motivation, and leadership which is major factors in a good organization. Companies paying attention to these factors have envious growth levels, which makes this approach highly acceptable in the industry. Also, increased productivity results in lower expenses for the company. It also creates transparency and confidence among employees.

Since the evaluators and managers can give specific guidance and feedback to the employees about their performance and behaviour, the performance level of employees in the organization increases substantially. This also results in efficiency and consistency in the performance of employees (Koontz & Weihrich, 2008).

Limitations of the behavioral approach

There are some limitations to this approach and the challenges that evaluators and managers face while using this approach to assess employee performance.

One of the major limitations of this approach is bigger staff force means large amounts of data but there are not many managers to evaluate the employees. Thus, there is a lot of information that they need to remember and process in order to evaluate the employees successfully in an unbiased manner. But the results are sometimes skewed result because managers may remember only performance-related data, ignoring other facts (Sarieddine, 2014).

When managers give specific feedback to help employees perform better, they sometimes ignore planning which reduces their efficiency. Thus, data collected should be used properly and measures are taken to maintain confidentiality (Moynihan, Lavertu & Glenn, 2011).

Need closer integration for effective organizational performance

The behavioural approach is one of the most accurate approaches to performance assessment. For the behavioural approach to be effective, the organisation needs to integrate it with management concepts, principles, theory, and techniques. There is also a need for closer integration with the organization structure design, staffing, planning, and controlling which are usually ignored when using this approach. If the organization keeps its employees well-motivated, skilled, and ensure a healthy work environment, they can all work together to achieve good performances.


I am currently working as a Research Associate. My work is centered on Macroeconomics with modern econometric approach. Broadly, the methodological research focuses on Panel data and Times series data analysis for causal inference and prediction. I also served as a reviewer to Journals of Taylor & Francis Group, Emerald, Sage.


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