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Absolute ratings

What is meant by absolute ratings?

Absolute rating is a performance appraisal method in which the appraiser rates an employee’s performance based on the company’s standards. The rating is absolute, which means it’s not compared to the other employees. The method follows the individual evaluation of employee performances. Absolute ratings are used to decide the starting salary or whether to hire a person for the job.

The scale of the absolute ratings can be decided based on the employee’s creativity, contribution to the firm, ability to improve, problem-solving skills, and customer feedback.


Different techniques are categorized under absolute ratings

There are different types of techniques in absolute ratings. Some might be easy for the appraiser, while others might be time-consuming.

  • Essay appraisals- In this method, the appraiser writes a description, in other words, an essay about different qualities of the employee, like their productivity, punctuality, work, and time management. This method demands the appraiser to be expressive and descriptive, which might be time-consuming. 
  • Critical incident- This includes the documentation of behaviors of the employees and judging them as successful and unsuccessful. Here, the appraiser has to pay attention to the details.
  • Checklist appraisal- The appraiser has to answer a simple yes or no questionnaire and check off different employee performance areas.
  • Forced choice appraisal- Few statements are given to the appraiser, and he selects the one that matches the employee’s performance.
  • Graphic rating scales- Different traits of the employee are scaled by the appraiser on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being unsatisfactory and 5 being the best
  • BARS (Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scales)- This method combines critical incident and graphic rating scales. A descriptive statement about the employee’s behavior is rated from 1 to 5. This is not vague like graphic rating scales, but precise statements are used.


(Steps of BARS:)

BARS - Behaviorally, Anchored, Rating, Scale (Absolute Ratings)

  • CIT writing or Critical Incident techniques – Collection of data.
  • Creation of performance dimensions based on collected data.
  • Consulting the subject matter experts.
  • Retention of behaviors- It ensures expert agreement of each behavior.


Benefits of absolute ratings

  1. Non-biased- As the ratings are based on a fixed scale, bias is less likely to occur during the review.
  2. Accuracy and clarity- It clarifies what is expected of them as high performance to the employees. It also gives clarity to the company about how to set a standard in the organization. 
  3. Flexibility- Different departments can adapt the ratings according to different tasks.


How do you build absolute ratings?

Here are three tips for building absolute ratings for your company that works well.

  1. Set specific expectations- Let the employees know what stands as an accepted performance, what is considered good, and what leads to a low rating—set standards for performance.
  2. Use a consistent scale- This will ensure that all employees are being graded on the same scale.
  3. Provide feedback regularly- Provide specific feedback to help the employees understand their work—mention both good and bad aspects.

The author Sue Grafton says, “Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats”. Absolute rating is a good idea to motivate your employees to do better if executed in a suitable manner.




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