Creating a Team BARS
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Creating a Team BARS

(This is one of a series of articles explaining a Team Performance Management System)

Performance Management System Part 3

A Team BARS (Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scale) is a scoring grid developed specifically for a team. The grid identifies behaviours that will lead to success and/or hinder it. When scored, the Team BARS shows which behavioural areas can be most improved.

There are two methods for creating a Team BARS described - running a team workshop, or through a consultancy assignment. We will describe how to create the workshop because it is the better approach (engendering more ownership amongst team members), and quicker/cheaper.


For the Team BARS to be produced on a workshop, you will need to identify:

Who is going to facilitate the workshop.
This should be an experienced facilitator and ideally someone experienced/trained in producing a Team BARS

Who is going to attend the workshop.
For a small team, this would normally be all team members (including the team leader).

For a large team, it would include a representative sample from across the team. Other people (eg: management, customers) could optionally be included, or they can be given an opportunity to comment on the Team BARS at a later stage of the process.

Admin support
There also needs to be a typist, computer, printing and copying facilities

You should also produce a workshop schedule, derived from the steps in this process.


The purpose of the workshop is to produce a Team BARS (and, optionally, to score it at the end). The team members will generate the content, guided by the facilitator.

The framework consists of a table grid, the columns of which identify four behaviour classifications; counter-productive, foundation, good and excellent (or world-class). The rows of the grid are key activity areas of the team, which will be generated in a plenary structured brainstorm.

The introduction to the workshop should cover the following areas:

Brainstorm 'activities' (for row headings)

The purpose of this part of the workshop is to produce the row labels for the Team BARS grid - the key areas of activity undertaken by the team. The steps involved are:

  1. Brainstorm activities. Facilitators may have their own preferred methods of producing such a list, but the generation of the list can either be done by open brainstorm (allowing any team member to shout ideas) or structured brainstorm (repeatedly going round the room and getting each team member to suggest a new item for the list)
  2. Consolidate the list into between 6 and 12 discrete headings.
  3. Whilst the team then take a break or do something different, the list should then be typed up (showing the main headings, plus the detailed ideas that were consolidated into that heading). Copies should be made and distributed to team member. This list acts as a reference and reminder of the meaning of each heading throughout the workshop
  4. The team then review the list in plenary and make any revisions they see necessary

Create Grid Contents

In this activity, the team splits into groups of 2 or 3, to develop the contents of the Team BARS. Each group works on a row, different to the other groups, and producing content for two boxes at a time, starting with "counter-productive" and "foundation".

Use a flipchart as a 'control sheet' to identify what box in the grid each pair or threesome should work on, so that there is no duplication. The groups choose for themselves which of the boxes they wish to work on first. They choose just one box, and then write their names in that box. They should start with the counter-productive/foundation categories, as it is easier to produce the good/excellent when these have already been written. They should not select a box already chosen by another group (indicated by the names in the boxes).

If all the counter-productive/minimum boxes have been completed, they then start work on the good/excellent category for an activity where the counter-productive/minimum boxes have been typed up and copies printed. They should not choose the good/excellent boxes for an activity where they have themselves previously created the counter-productive/minimum categories.

They produce their ideas on paper, one category at a time, and the typist puts them into the evolving Team BARS table in Microsoft Word (which can be printed off and copied at various stages of development).

Review first drafts

Once each small group has produced their first set of boxes, and these have been typed up, the group should then review the output - particular with a view to considering (a) what works well and (b) what could be improved about the submissions so far. As a result of this discussion, guidelines on how to produce further boxes can be written on a flipchart and used in subsequent drafting.

Develop and Improve

Once the first drafts have been discussed, the small groups can press on and produce more entries for the Team BARS grid.

When all the grid entries have been produced, the groups can improve what they have produced by reviewing one row at a time (preferably reviewing rows produced by other groups, not ones they have created themselves). This can be followed by a plenary review.

Produce Scoring Grid

A scoring grid is the same as a Team BARS, except that:

Once the Team BARS has been created they go on to the next stage:

Performance Management System:
Part 4: Team Appraisal

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