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5 August 2021

An Overview of 9 Box Talent Grid and it’s Advantages

The 9-box model is widely used for performance and potential matrix that is a helpful tool for succession planning and development. Although the tool has been available to the public for a long time, there are only a few who understand the intricacies of the mechanism and how valuable it can be when planning for the future and developing a leadership team.

When assessing employee performance, managers pay attention to two things. First, their performance, and second, how well they are likely to perform in the future.  For instance, hardworking employees who do well in their role but have little growth potential are great to have in the team. However, low-performing employees with low potential need a lot of management attention and are unlikely to improve. These require a different approach. The 9 box talent grid offers a framework that is helpful to manage all employees in a firm. 

In this article, let’s understand how does the 9 box grid works and what are it’s benefits.

How does a 9 box grid work?

HR and managers work together to assign employees to relevant boxes on the grid depending on the two categories. The x-axis represents the employee’s current performance, and the y-axis represents their potential – a prediction of their future performance.

While the conversation requires to be informed, the process is by its nature iterative. Details into the current performance or future potential of one employee may shift the thinking about another. Discussions about the firm’s goals or the competitor landscape might lead to a different perspective on the value of the skill sets or aptitude in the future.

What are the advantages of a 9 box grid?

There are several advantages of using a 9 box talent grid, a few of them are:

  • Set things up swiftly

The best thing about 9 box grid is that it is quick to set up and is very easy to use. Intuitive drag and drop means one can organize quickly and re-organize employees within the talent pools. The graphical layout also makes it simpler to see where there are gaps, so one can put in place and plan accordingly to fill them.

  • New perspective

The process of assigning employees to various parts of the grid is collaborative, managers benefit from hearing the opinions of others so that there will be a more objective assessment of employees’ progress and potential.

There are chances that the manager’s relationship with an employee has biased their assessment of his/her performance. It can also be possible that employee demonstrated abilities their manager wasn’t aware of when collaborating on a project with a different team. There will be a collection of opinions that eventually brings new perspectives for everyone involved, offering a more informed discussion.

  • Plan for the future

The process doesn’t stop with a constructive conversation. The real value is in how one uses the information to enhance succession planning and employee career development so that they can ensure continuity and growth, and take the business to the next level. For instance, those employees identified as having high potential, high performance, and showing signs of being future leaders, or future stars in their own right, will require to be nurtured so they remain challenged and rewarded. Maybe they’re the ones who will be integral to the success of an upcoming project or fill the position of a superior who has left.

  • Highlights development opportunities
High potential but low performing employees may require motivating, through a stretch assignment, mentoring, or a change in position within the firm. Candidates consistently assigned to the low potential and low-performance box will require a different strategy.


It is highly advised to use the 9-box model for a more in-depth evaluation process. The HR and managers should establish what they want out of the process before they begin.

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