9 Box Grid: Talent Management out of the Box

Konstantinos Anastasiadis @ SCALEUP | March 11, 2021

#1. What is the 9 box grid? Let’s Define!

Let us avoid the complex definitions and make it simple. The 9-box grid works as an individual assessment tool that evaluates an employees ongoing and mainly potential contribution to the organization. It works as a roadmap that assesses your employees skills and how can it contribute to your organization achieving its goals.

Ideally, it is commonly used in both succession planning as well as in L&D activities of the Organization on increasing the competency levels of the organization and facilitating in achieving its goals.

The model is simple, visual and effective in helping senior leaders by:

  • Developing people for senior or complex leadership roles
  • Identifying employees who need further development
  • Pinpointing gaps where external recruitment is needed
  • Classifying the critical talent and roles within a workforce

Keep in mind:

  • Upper Right Quadrant - High Performer & High Potential: Ideal for Succession
  • Lower Left Quadrant - Low Performer & Low Potential: Re-Assign or Dismiss

#2.The Mindset: How it Works

Highly important to keep in mind that the 9-box grid is simply a collaborative exercise where managers and leadership teams come together to place each team member on the grid. Once completed, the 9-box grid helps you plan the progression of each team member to map out your organisation’s future leadership positions.

The Goal is to assess your workforce based on:

  • Performance: Where do your employees stand in terms of your expectations?
  • Potential: Where can your employees arise within your organization?

Both of the pillars have three levels: Low - Moderate - High

#3. Creating the 9-Box Grid

Step 1: List

The first step in every 9-box grid is to gather your employees that will be evaluated. Depending on whether the grid is aimed for succession planning or L&D purposes you may or may not add 360 assessments

Step 2: Evaluate Performance

There are many different ways to score performance and each organization has different nuances. As an example, we propose the following structure:

Performance level To-Do
Low performance Employee does not match the requirements of their job and fails their individual targets.
Moderate performance Employee partially matches the requirements of their job and their individual targets.
High performance Employee fully meets the requirements of their job and their individual targets

Some organizations may have less defined job structures and work with more personal targets – in that case, more emphasis can be put on assessing target achievement.

Step 3: Evaluate Potential

Potential should also be scored during the performance assessments and often falls into the following categories.

Potential level To-Do
Low potential Employee not expected to improve, either because they are at maximum capacity or because of a lack of motivation.
Moderate potential Employee has the potential to further develop within their current role.
High potential Employee eligible for promotion, either immediately, or within two to three years
Step 4: Bring it together & Act

Bad hires: Low Performance & Low Potential

  • Identify personal roadblocks that may cause the low performance and lack of growth.
  • Do not over-invest in these people as that would be unfair to the rest of the employees who do perform well.
  • Sit with the individual to see if there is a more appropriate assignment where their skills are better utilized.

Average Employees: Moderate performance / Moderate Potential

  • Create a personal improvement plan by going over personal roadblocks and skills required for the role that need to be worked on by the employee.
  • Check in every month and evaluate progress on the plan.
  • If performance does not improve within 6 months to a year, you should create an exit plan together.

HiPos: High Performance & High Potential

  • Ensure that expectations and role requirements are clear.
  • Give juniors in new roles the time to develop their performance to the highest level.
  • Provide these professionals with classroom training and on-the-job learning opportunities that help them develop the skills that they are good at or bring skills that hold them back to a higher level.

#4. GSpreadsheet Templates & Hacks

The 9 box grid can be a useful tool to manage all the employees in an organization. As such, it can be used for performance management, talent management, and succession planning. Leverage our 9-box grid Template and set your organization up for success.

#5. Additional Resources