How to use a 9-box grid

Written by david parker
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How to use a 9-box grid
Employee review (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

A 9-box grid, also called a performance and potential matrix, is a tool used by managers to identify high performing individuals who are potential promotion candidates. A 9-box grid is often used in succession planning, which is determining who to promote when a manager/executive vacates a position.

A 9-box grid should accompany a solid employee review process.

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  • Employee reviews

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  1. 1

    Create a grid. This can be done on paper, Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint or by using another tool. The grid should have three rows and three columns.

    Label the rows from top to bottom: A-High, B-Medium and C-Low.

    Label the columns from left to right: 1-Below, 2-Meeting and 3-Exceeding.

  2. 2

    Review the employee's performance, looking both at how well he is doing his current job and the potential for advancement. This step needs to be performed for each employee you want to log in the 9-box grid.

  3. 3

    Place each employee in the appropriate section of the grid.

    The rows signify the potential of an individual to be promoted. The columns signify whether the employee is below, meeting or exceeding her current role's expectations.

    An employee who is exceeding expectations in her current role and has a high potential would be located in box A3. An employee who is below current expectations and has low potential would go in the bottom left in box A1.

    The grid allows an organisation to focus on employees in the upper right quadrant for the purposes of succession planning.

Tips and warnings

  • The 9-box grid is to evaluate both current and potential performance. An employee could be exceeding current expectations but may not possess the skills or desire to move into a leadership or managerial position. The reverse may also be true.

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