9 Box Grid

What is a 9-Box Grid?

The 9-Box-Grid Model is a three-by-three structure that functions as a talent management tool. It categorizes employees into nine groups based on their potential performance. It helps in succession planning for human resources and provides a framework to help all employees in an organization.

The talent management grid is used to evaluate how much an employee currently contributes to a business and their potential for future growth.

Imagine it as a chart where the up-and-down axis shows how much someone can progress in their job, and the side-to-side axis shows how well they are currently doing. So, it helps figure out not just how well someone is doing now but also how much they can grow in the company in the future.

What are the dimensions typically used in a 9-box grid?

The 9-Box Performance Grid evaluates employees based on two dimensions: Future Potential (y-axis) and Current Performance (x-axis).

Future Potential

  • High Potential: Consistently exceeds expectations, embraces leadership, and welcomes challenges.
  • Moderate Potential: Meets role requirements, shows a willingness to lead, and needs development for further progress.
  • Low Potential: Falls short of expectations, lacks drive, and exhibits limited growth potential.

Current Performance:

  • High Performer: Consistently exceeds expectations, embraces leadership, and proactively tackles challenges.
  • Moderate Performer: Meets role requirements, displays willingness to lead, and requires development for advancement.
  • Low Performer: Falls short of expectations, lacks drive, and has limited growth potential.

An alternate method of grouping:

  • Star Employee: Top performer with great potential.
  • Core Player: Average performer with moderate potential.
  • Wrong Hiring: Low performer with low potential, indicating a mismatch with organizational needs.

Are there different versions or variations of the 9-box grid model?

Yes, there are different versions, variations, or alternatives of the 9-box grid model. A few of them are:

1. 360-Degree Feedback

Instead of relying solely on boss evaluations, companies can use 360-degree feedback. It gathers input from peers, coworkers, and managers for a more comprehensive understanding of an employee’s performance.

2. Employee Scorecard

Track an employee’s talents, accomplishments, and growth over time with an employee scorecard, providing insights into current performance and future potential.

3. Behavioral Assessments

Utilize behavioral assessments, such as personality tests, to understand a worker’s traits and interests, aiding in creating plans for personal and team growth.

4. Real-Time Succession Planning

Implement real-time succession planning, where plans are regularly reviewed and adjusted based on the company’s evolving needs. This ensures that capable individuals are always prepared for crucial responsibilities.

What are the advantages of the 9-box grid?

Here are the four most important advantages of the 9-Box Grid:

Simple and user-friendly

The 9-box talent model simplifies employee reviews by providing an easy-to-use structure. It matches individuals to the right box based on performance and potential is straightforward, even for those new to the tool.

Spotlights high performers

It identifies high-performing individuals with great potential, enabling data-backed decisions on resource allocation for their development. The model targets engagement and positions employees for internal promotions.

Holistic talent appraisal

The framework enhances performance management by offering a well-rounded approach. It avoids focusing on a single aspect of an employee’s performance, allowing assessment of both current achievements and future potential.

Improves workforce planning

The nine-box matrix acts not just as a talent management tool but also aids in workforce planning. It provides a clear overview of employee potential, making succession planning more accessible. Additionally, it helps identify employees with leadership potential for management roles.

What are the disadvantages of the 9-box grid?

Here are four disadvantages or shortcomings of the 9-box model:

Ties with traditional performance

The 9-Box Grid’s link to once-a-year, manager-rated performance reviews contrasts with modern continuous feedback practices. It limits improvement opportunities and data richness for accurate assessments.

Insufficient Data Points

Depending solely on the 9-Box Grid can lack comprehensive performance measurement. Encouraging continuous feedback and structured goal-setting ensures a more thorough evaluation.

Concern with transparency

Without clear communication, the 9-Box model might lead to misunderstandings and unintended consequences. For example, adopting a “rank and yank” system where lower-ranked employees face termination.

Potential misalignment

If not focused on talent development, the nine-box model may deviate from its intended purpose. To avoid unintended consequences, organizations should use the model to nurture talent and gain a competitive advantage, steering away from a ranking and termination approach.

What are some best practices for implementing a 9-box grid in talent management processes?

Implementing the 9-box grid for talent management involves three key steps:

1. Characterization

  • Define characteristics and developmental needs for each 9-box category.
  • Identify traits and competencies in each quadrant.

2. Developmental actions

  • Prescribe specific interventions for each category.
  • Offer targeted strategies tailored to individual needs.

3. Strategic Plan

  • Formulate a focused talent development plan.
  • Align organizational goals with individual needs.
  • Establish an adaptable framework for continuous improvement.


For example, the actions for a Moderate Potential with the High-Performance box would consist of focus learning and development on key competencies for future roles by

1. Assigning targeted tasks with:

  • Company-wide or cross-functional exposure,
  • High visibility,
  • Leadership in change initiatives, or
  • Significant P&L responsibility.

2. Encourage mentoring to develop talent-building skills.
3. Emphasize the importance of cultivating a strong learning mindset.
4. Provide resources and tools to foster regular use of learning mindset practices.

Wrapping Up

The 9-Box Performance Grid is like a helpful guide for HR to manage employees based on their performance and potential. Think of it as a tool for talent, performance, and succession management.

It’s not about putting people in boxes, but rather getting the right employees together to chat about goals and achievements. This process helps create a roadmap for the company’s success.

Just like the 9-box grid, Keka’s 360-degree review software can create a comprehensive development plan for every employee. The performance bands enable managers to offer growth and development opportunities tailored to individuals’ current assessment cycle status.

Simply put, Keka’s employee review solution uses technology to make the 9 Box Grid model work better. It offers a central and dynamic platform for evaluating talent, fostering development, and making strategic decisions.


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