When the HR of a company or an organisation is assessing the employee performance and the value of an individual, then need to assess on the basis of 2 dimensions—one is an employee’s present contribution and the other is their future potential. The current contribution of an employee also reflects the performance of the team where they belong and that ensures appropriate reward and recognition.

Again, assessing the future potential also helps the HR to identify the individuals with high performance so that one can concentrate on their future leadership roles. By improving an employee’s performance and by identifying team members who are capable of leadership roles can enable the organisations to increase job satisfaction and improve the retention rates/

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One of the most commonly used models to assess the employee performance is the 9 box grid. This grid is a simple and free exercise that groups the employee performance into quadrants and then ensures consistent treatment of the employees in different groups of performances.

One of the most commonly used models for assessing employee performance is the 9-box grid. The 9-box grid is a simple, free exercise that groups employee performance into quadrants and ensures consistent treatment of employees across different performance groupings.

What is a 9 Box Grid?

This grid provides a framework so that one can assess an employee’s performance and then enable the succession planning. This grid mostly maps employees against 2 axes and they are current performances and future potential. The Y axis (vertical one) indicates the potential growth for leadership roles and the X axis (horizontal one) represents their current performance to identify whether they are performing below expectations or exceeding them. The 9 boxes present in the grid result from the relationships between their performance and potential.

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Purpose of the 9 Box Grid

Here are the major purposes of using this grid:

  • To get a comprehensive view of the talent pipeline in between the business units and the critical gaps there which are needed to be addressed.
  • To determine the potential, risk and impact of loss of the current talent in the organisation.
  • To enable cross organisation and cross functional discussions around the current strength.
  • In order to identify the strategies for developing, retaining and working with the current talent that the organisation has.
  • To identify the potential successors both system wise and locally.
  • To boost the internal recruitment leads when vacancies happen in leadership positions.
  • To expand the discussions on building some diverse leadership talent.
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The managers and the HR team work together to assign each employee to the relevant boxes on the 9 box grid based on the X axis which represents their current performance and their future potential that is shown in the Y axis.

The benefits of using the 9 Box Grid

As per talent management there are quite a few benefits of using this grid system.

Identify valuable talent

This grid allows one to spot the high performers within the organisation who have great potential to become future leaders. It can also help to direct the resources intelligently in order to engage and develop the future leaders of the company.

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Highlight development opportunities

When looking for leaders with high potential in the 9 box grid, the employees who are not suited for the job are also highlighted there. Having these insights can enable the managers and the HR to investigate those employees further and try to provide support to them so that they can develop themselves and come up with better performances.

Increases transparency

The grid approach requires an honest and open communication within the leadership team to evaluate the performance and potential of every employee. The discussion helps the leaders to clarify the expectations of the employees.

There are some limitations of 9 box grid as well. The distinction between potential and performance can be difficult sometimes especially where there is an unclear concept of both. The organisers mostly have a well defined method to evaluate the performance of the employees but evaluating potentials can be less familiar for many. This can impact the employee ratings heavily. But if one can be transparent with their employees and share the performance information then things can be quite clear and lesser difficult.

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