Designing an Organisational Survey

January 10th, 2012 by Sarah Green Leave a reply »

We recently found an interesting discussion on rating scales which is very important when carrying out any form of research in organisations. As Zircon is currently undertaking our own research project into Talent Management, we are very interested to see what is currently being found and discussed. Here are some key pointers from the discussion which are worth noting.

Should the scale be an odd or even one?

Research has shown that an even number of rating points should be used for performance management and assessment. This is to discourage assessors and managers from using the midpoint. Research shows that a five point rating scale tends to have a large cluster around the mean and therefore you cannot differentiate on the basis of performance.

How many rating points should you have?

Research has shown that four or more rating points should be used for assessment and performance management. This is to ensure that the full use of the scale is used. Previous research into the reliability of rating scales, has shown that 2 and 3 points are too few, 4, 5, 6 and 7, are effective and 8 points or more are too many.

Fewer categories limit the ability for the manager or supervisor to make accurate distinctions between employees. With more categories presented to the manager or supervisor, he or she can more accurately categorize the employee’s true performance.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a 5, 4 and 3 point scale

A note on language:

We need to make sure that the language used on the rating scale is even, otherwise we could end up with data that is positively or negatively skewed, i.e. a scale that is not being fully used.

Final Point:

The rating scale chosen by an organisation, can therefore have a great deal of impact on the results that are retrieved.

If you have any questions about research in organisations or Zircon’s Talent Management project, please contact

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