What is the 9 Box Talent Review Grid?

Looking to know about the 9 Box Talent Review Grid? You’re at the right place then.

Developing a solid succession plan is the core requirement of any successful organization. Succession planning enables managers to boost employee engagement. For building a succession plan, you need to evaluate the performance of individual employees.

An employee’s performance appraisal is a challenging task. Most managers fail to conduct the performance appraisal in an effective way. Various tools and techniques are used for this purpose, but one of the most popular is the Nine Box Talent Grid.

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The 9-box talent grid is a performance management technique that helps in assessing performance of employees and determining their competence level. It enables you to measure and compare the capability of your employees with the industry standards. In this article, we will learn about the nine-box talent grid for performance management and its advantages? So, let’s begin.

What is a 9 Box Talent Grid?

The 9-box talent review grid is a tool that you can use for the performance evaluations of employees. It also helps you to determine the level of employee competence. This grid also enables you to assess how well an individual has performed against key indicators in their job role and make decisions on whether or not they are meeting expectations.

It is one of the most effective tools for measuring the performance of your employees, as it helps track progress over time, identify specific areas where improvement is needed, compare the performance of employees against each other and with industry standards, and assist you to write annual performance reviews.

How Do You Fill Out a 9 Box Grid?

Now that you know what the nine-box talent grid is, it’s time to create one. If you want to build a 9-box talent grid, you need to follow these steps:

1. Assess The Employee Performance

The first step is to assess the performance of employees. You need to identify and document the areas in which they are excelling and those where they need improvement. It will help you determine how to rate their competence on the grid. You can use various ways for assessing the performance of your employees. Every organization has different appraisal systems based on the industry and business requirements. The employees’ performance is categorized as low-performance, moderate performance, and high-performance on the grid.

  • Employees with Low Performance

These employees are not meeting the expectations and need improvement in most areas. Such employees have low potential and are not expected to grow much in the future. They lack essential skills that need to be developed, and their proficiency in implementing their knowledge and skills is low.

  • Employees with Moderate Performance

These employees are meeting the expectations but lack some essential skills that need to be developed. Such employees have moderate potential and are expected to grow in the future. They lack some essential skills that are required for excelling in their career.

  • Employees with High-Performance

These are the employees who are meeting all expectations and don’t require any development. Such employees have high potential and are expected to grow to the future leaders. They have the necessary skills, knowledge, and ability to contribute to the organization.

2. Evaluate Employee Potential

The next step is to evaluate the employee’s potential. For creating a 9-box grid, managers have to assess performance by noticing the strengths and weaknesses of employees. While assessing the potential, the managers have to analyze how much a worker is expected to grow in the future, their proficiency to implement their knowledge and skills, and their ability to contribute to the organization. Depending on the potential, employees are categorized as low potential, moderate potential, and high potential on the grid.

3. Build a 3✕3 Grid

Once you have determined the performance and potential of all the employees, comes the step to building the grid. The performance and potential of each employee are plotted in a grid with three rows and three columns.

How to Use 9 Box Grid for Succession Planning?

The 9 box grid is a performance evaluation tool used to identify the potential of employees and help with succession planning. When you have identified the role of each employee, you need to evaluate their performance.

To build a solid succession bench, you need to have a list of employees who are ready and able to take up the role. The succession bench is created with people from all levels within an organization to find someone as per your requirement when there is a vacancy in upper-level roles.

You can use it for talent review. Using the 9 box grid, you can determine which employees have managerial or professional capacity. This grid can also be used to measure the performance of your employees and help you determine where they fall in their job roles.

You can then upgrade the employee’s skills by various talent management tools, like training or a development program, monitoring, and feedback system. It can help you lead your organization to success with the right succession planning in place and identify high performers who have the skills to take on greater roles in the future.

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How to do Performance Management Using 9 Box Grid based on Different Employee Categories?

Once you have generated the grid, it’s time to use it for performance management. Categorize the employees into nine groups depending on their performance and potential. You need to create a separate development plan for each category. Following are nine categories you get by employing the 9 box grid. Let’s take a look at how to manage them.

1. Low Performers with Low Potential

The employees who fall in this nine-box grid category require a lot of attention. They need to be trained in a deep manner in the areas they are weak. Identify the root of the problem and provide support to improve their performance. You don’t need to give much attention to this category of employees as they are not expected to grow much in the future. If performance is not improved within a period, they may need to be terminated.

2. Low Performers with Moderate Potential

This 9 box grid category of employees needs some attention and support from the managers. They lack some essential skills that need to be developed. Help them identify their weaknesses and provide support to improve their performance. This type of employee can work with the organization if they get the necessary training and development. They lack proper training or experience.

3. Low Performers with High Potential

This category of 9 box grid is rare, but they do exist in every organization. The employees lack some essential skills that need to be developed. Provide them with training, mentorship, or coaching by senior management in the areas where they are lacking and provide support, so their performance improves. You can use a talent management tool for managing talent and their skills.

If an employee belongs in this category, you need to give them special attention. This type of employee can contribute to your organization’s success if you provide them with the necessary development.

4. Moderate or High Performer with Low Potential

The employees that fall in this category are not expected to grow much within the organization. They lack essential skills, and training is required to improve their proficiency. Provide them with some extensive development to contribute toward your company’s success.

5. Moderate or High Performers with Moderate Potential

This category of employees is expected to grow within the organization. They also lack some essential skills that need to be developed. However, they can work with the organization if they get some training and orientation.

If you help them with the areas they are lacking and provide support to improve their performance, they can contribute to the organization’s growth. This category of employee needs some attention but not as much as the low performers with moderate potential.

6. Moderate or High Performers with High Potential

This 9 box grid category is not a problem, but they need attention, so their skills don’t become obsolete. Keep providing them leadership development and skill development training to keep their performance high. They are capable of handling things without any interdependencies and don’t require much help from managers.

This category of employees is expected to grow within the organization. They have all the skills, knowledge, and ability required to contribute to your company’s value. This type of employee can help your company go to the next level. Providing them with development is essential to improve their skills and knowledge.

Benefits of Using 9 Box Grid

9 Box Grid brings numerous benefits for managers and business owners. Below we have mentioned some detailed benefits of using the grid:

Ease of Use

9 box grid is quite easy and convenient to use. You don’t need a huge setup to use it. Employers can use this practice as many times as they want for assessing employee performance. You can apply this practice to all the employees. While evaluating your employees, you need to match the performance and potential of each worker with the correct box.

Help in Employee Talent Assessments

The objective of any business owner should always be to reach the pinnacle of success. For this, it is important to have the right talent in place. A company can reach its goals with the help of dedicated and hardworking employees.

The grid is also helpful in the talent review process. It can help identify which employees have the potential to move up in their careers. It is done with proper planning and execution of training and development programs. You can also use this grid to measure the performance of your employees and determine their strengths and weaknesses. It can help you understand which employee needs more attention and development to contribute better to the organization.

Better Transparency

The grid helps provide transparency to your employees. When you explain the performance of each employee and potential level with numbers, it makes them more aware of the situation. You can use this data for communicating with employees at all levels within an organization, so they understand their roles better. This practice will also help engage them by allowing them a strong sense of ownership.

Managing Post-Appraisal Actions

A company can progress if it has dedicated and motivated employees. It is possible to create a culture of trust with your employees. When the managers have evaluated all the employees of their company by using a 9 box grid, they can build action plans for the promotion of employees who have the potential to move up in their careers.

Promoting Teamwork

The grid is a perfect tool to measure the performance of an employee and also the team. It can help you improve communication between employees because they will be more aware of their role in achieving company goals. It helps them work together as a single unit towards success, thus promoting teamwork among your organization members.

Disadvantages of Using 9 Box Grid

Following are four disadvantages of using this tool:

The Subjectivity of Managers’ Perspective

The grid is dependent on the perspective of the managers. Different managers can have different opinions about the performance and potential of an employee. It might lead to disputes among employees and hinder their productivity.

Inability to Measure Aptitude

An employee’s aptitude is another crucial factor for the success of a company. An organization may have an employee who has great potential but lacks the aptitude. It can lead to the failure of the company and its goals, despite the employee’s hard work.

The grid is not a foolproof tool to measure an employee’s capabilities. It will give you a rough idea of the performance and potential level of employees. It also doesn’t provide any data about your employees’ attitude towards their work, which is an important factor in determining the success of your organization.

Difficulty in Categorizing Employees

It can be difficult to categorize employees into nine boxes. It is because not all employees will have the same level of performance and potential in all types of assessments. Some may fall under multiple categories, while others might not fit into any categorization. The employees’ performance can also vary from time to time, depending on their efforts and the working environment.

Difficulty in Identifying The Potential of an Employee

The potential of an employee is not always easy to identify. It is not possible to identify the potential of an employee by looking at their performance and choosing a category for them. HR professionals may have a difficult time determining which employees have the potential to move up in their careers. This is because different managers might have different opinions about an employee’s performance and potential.


9 Box Talent Review Grid is a popular human resource tool that HR experts use to assess employee performance, potential, and leadership. Above you can find the detailed procedure on how to carry out the process. Make sure to follow the steps by step guide to avail the benefits of using 9-box talent grid.

If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into any HR position, we recommend taking our HR Certification Courses, where you will learn how to build your skillset in human resources, build your human resources network, craft an excellent HR resume, and create a successful job search strategy that lands you a sought-after Human Resources job.


Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.