Over time, employers have understood that using one fixed parameter to judge an employee’s performance in a stipulated period of time, is futile and rather biased. Therefore, other methods of appraisal came into being- qualitative and quantitative as well. Out of the many options available today for employee appraisal, such as 360-degree feedback, graphic scale method, ranking, etc, one popular option is the Behavioral Observation Scale. It is one of those appraisal methods, which is being used more frequently in growing organizations and is sometimes partly responsible for their success. So what is this method of appraisal and what is it characterized by?
What is Behavioral Observation Scale?
Simply put, it is a performance appraisal method wherein several criteria such as defining critical incidents, crisis situations and events are taken into account and an employee’s behavior at the time determines whether they performed well in that scenario or not. This method is often preferred because it is more holistic in approach- it combines the qualitative aspect of taking behavior into account and using incidents rather than pure fact-based performance indicators; with a quantitative rating scale.
Features of Behavioral Observation Scale
• Firstly, the concept behind this appraisal method is quite psychological. Hence, using this method helps organizations understand their employees better- what motivates and guides them, what kind of pressure they work well in, etc. As organizations understand this, they are able to utilize their resources optimally and productivity is enhanced.
• This method of appraisal is known for high accuracy. Unlike, for example, the 360-degree appraisal method, which is very subjective at times, this method is reliable as ultimately the parameter is a rating scale and hence yields precise results.
• Assessing the behavior of employees throughout the time period stipulated for appraisal ensures that employees are conscious of the way they are reacting to and dealing with situations at work, whether they are social situations or purely work-related ones. Thus, conflict is avoided and relationships are fostered in a healthy manner.
• The behavior of an employee may be judged in different situations. For instance, many companies observe employee behavior individually as well as in situations where they are in groups, for a more well-rounded result.
• However, one possibly negative feature of this approach is that in bigger companies, due to the massive workforce, it becomes difficult for managers to keep track of employee behavior and makes the process of appraisal a tough one. In such cases, some bias may enter the results.
• One thing to remember about the behavioral observation scale is that when it is to be used for appraisal, a certain background needs to be developed beforehand. It is important for organizations to educate employees regarding key leadership and management concepts, for such an appraisal method to be successful.
Thus, the behavioral observation scale comes with its own set of advantages and limitations as well as certain salient features that set it apart from other appraisal methods. However, it is agreed among most organizations that this method is useful and reliable and has replaced older, more traditional appraisal standards.
Growing organizations are increasingly making use of the Behavioral Observation Scale for employee appraisal. Due to its holistic approach and other important features like usage of psychological parameters, high level of accuracy, and scope for judging employee behavior in a range of situations, amongst others, this appraisal method scores over many other traditional methods.

Author's Bio: 

Reshali Balasubramaniam
Head of HR, HR Counselor and adviser at https://jobpal.lk and EFutureTech Systems. Submit your resume online and be contacted by prospective employers.