The Leaders in a company need to determine two main dimensions to make the right talent decisions for the immediate future (6 months).

These 2 dimensions are:

Employee Performance Employee Potential Employee performance refers to the achievement against the objectives set for the employee in the recent times (6 months). However, this is not sufficient to make talent decisions pertaining to the immediate future. An understanding of the employee’s potential to perform in the near future is also needed. The big question is ‘Will the employee be able to perform at the same level, or better than the current levels or take up higher or challenging roles or responsibilities?’ Based on this assessment, there is a need to plan initiatives at an individual level of the organization.

The 9-box grid is one of the most simple yet powerful tools for facilitating decisions pertaining to employee succession, retention planning, recognition and career management.

So, what is a 9-Box Grid? While 2 by 2, 3 by 3, 4 by 4 and 5 by 5 grids are used, The 3 by 3 or 9-box grid is most used. The horizontal 3 are levels (low, medium and high) of performance and the vertical axis shows 3 levels (low, medium and high) of employee potential. The grid is a personal assessment tool that helps assess an employee’s current and future value to the company. The employee’s existing position and potential areas for improvement are determined by the interaction of the two. The horizontal axis rows of the grid show whether the employee is currently performing below, at, or above expectations, and the vertical columns of the grid show potential for growth. For succession planning, the 9-box grid is also most frequently used to assess organizational talent and identify future leaders. People in the graph’s upper right quadrant are recognized as high-potential candidates. In contrast, people in the lower left quadrant (Box 9) may need to be reassigned or put on a performance improvement plan.

The grid’s boxes show where investments are needed to be made, ensure the best job fitment and create future leaders.

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How do organizations use the 9-box grid? Organizations generally use the 3 by 3 grid to achieve one of the three goals mentioned below:

Identify high-potential talent for recognition and career progression Identify and Initiate Performance improvement plans and coaching Kick-off retention and succession planning Performance plotting is done considering the achievement against goals and current level of skills and behaviors against the expected level of those competencies. Potential plotting is commonly done through an input by the respective leaders or through 360-degree feedback method. They look at the probability of the individual performing at a similar or higher level in the immediate future. This could also cover the opportunity to give higher responsibility or role.

The Pros And Cons Of The 9-Box Grid The 9-box grid is a semi-contentious assessment tool for performance, succession, retention, and career management. At the same time, some companies see this model as straightforward while others as an outdated approach focused on labels.

Pros Of The 9-Box Grid Easy to Use: 9-box grid is visual, which makes it easy for anyone to catch on to the concept. It has a simple and established structure, which helps you review your employee’s strengths and weaknesses to check them with the correct box.

Increased Transparency: The approach of the 9-box grid requires open and honest communication within the team to evaluate where each employee is standing. These discussions can often help clarify leaders' expectations and goals for the company.

Makes Workforce Planning Easier: Using the 9-grid box model serves as an opportunity to review your employees' strengths and helps identify their potential for leadership or senior roles within the company. It also ensures employees get the required support and guidance to prosper.

On the other hand, if the grid reveals that an employee has high potential but low-performance levels, this may indicate that you need to work closely with them to raise their motivation and engagement.

Cons Of The 9-Box Grid Uses unclear metrics: How to differentiate an individual’s potential and performance? Does an employee’s current performance correctly reflect how they could perform in the future? If you want to use the 9-box grid effectively, identify how your team will measure potential and performance; otherwise, the metrics may be biased and unreliable. Leaders who are scoring employees on potential and performance have to be accurate in plotting employees in the right box. If this is not done right or done carelessly, the talent decisions can be wrong leading to demotivation, disengagement and even attrition.

Invites Biasness: While evaluations of employees need to be based on data, prejudice and views can easily influence where an employee falls on the grid, affecting whether they advance in the organization and how much support and appreciation they get.

Less Objective: When appropriately applied, the 9-box grid must be impartial and feasible. Additionally, it must be based on objectivity, and must have a clear rationale or supporting evidence.

An employee’s position in the grid may impact how the dynamic management team perceives them. For instance, a low performance with low potential may have a detrimental impact on how the team regards and views the individual moving forward.

Unlock a better performance management process Every tool has advantages and disadvantages, and the 9-box grid is no different. Every corporation has distinctive quirks and storied procedures, so what works for one company might not be appropriate for another, and vice versa. Be cautious while using the 9-box grid, even though it can work well for your people management procedures. Make every effort to lessen the manager prejudice and employee mistrust that frequently accompany this module.

On the other hand, we’d be happy to demonstrate the capabilities of the Winzard Talent Review platform which goes beyond the performance and potential grid. It takes into consideration another 9 box grid of probability of attrition and impact of attrition. Winzard uses the two 9 box grids and few other inputs such as fitment and development needs making it more holistic. It gives real time recommendations pertaining to talent decisions. The filters on the platform help to view the output by unit, gender and also grade. That’s not all, the platform includes an Action Planning tab that facilitates assignment of key actions to be planned and executed based on the observations and recommendations by Winzard Talent Review. The recommendations by Winzard Talent Review and Action planning tab are unique features developed by Winzard and have transformed talent review, decision making and planning.