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Nine-Box Matrix

The Nine-Box Matrix

The 9 box matrix is a popular tool, widely used in talent management. It is used principally for assessing teams, differentiating teams or organizations, succession planning, and leadership development.

Generally, it is used for the purposes of assessing individuals on the have performed in the past, and their future potential.

The X axis is used for performance analysis whilst the Y axis is used for leadership potential analysis. Upon combining the axes, you will make up the box within the grid in which each employee is placed.

The top right box symbolizes a highly performing, high potential individual, whilst the bottom left box signals an employee that requires attention and improvement.

Whilst the tool is useful for a single leader to evaluate his/her employees, the tool shows its real value when it is used in the context of assessment at a team or organizational level. In this way, it can be used as a “talent review” tool to talk together about how the organization is performing as a whole.

Advantages of the Nine-Box Matrix

  • It is effective and easy to use.

Efficiency commonly aligns with simplicity. This is the case for the 9 box matrix. Managers and employees alike find it easy to use and understand.

  • It can allow you to bypass many of the common problems managers encounter when it comes to talent management, including:
  1. Too much emphasis on how the employee is currently performing

  2. Relying too much on the opinion of one person

  3. A lack of consistent assessment criteria

  4. It doesn’t work when overcomplicated. Issues can arise when leadership try to overcomplicate the tool. This can entail increasing the number of boxes, adding specific definitions, and other things that they believe are making the tool more specific to their unique process. However one of the best things about the tool is that it is universal. It should maintain its simple nature to enhance efficiency and ensure maximum understanding.

  • It is free.

It is completely free to use the 9 box matrix. Companies opt for assessment centers and other means of assessing potential; however these are expensive and very time-consuming. It is essential to evaluate whether it will be worth the time and money, or whether the same results will be achieved simply using a free and simple tool like the 9 box matrix.

  • It facilitates valuable discussion.

The exercise shouldn’t be all about filling in the grid. The point is the discussion derived from it. This is a vital point that can be forgotten during review meetings. The result of completing a 9 box matrix should be a productive and professional conversation about talent within teams.

  • It provides conversation structure.

The framework that the 9 box matrix provides will help conversations from getting side-tracked and off-topic. With the help of the framework, you should be able to keep a grasp on topics such as the employee’s potential, performance, development plans and development needs.

  • It helps to define and note criteria and expectations.

Talent review meetings should begin with everybody having a clear understanding of what performance and potential actually mean. Ideally, everyone should understand.

  1. The definitions of performance and potential

  2. What is expected of them

  • The 9 box grid tends to be more accurate than the opinion of one person.

Sometimes the talent or the under-performance of individuals can be overlooked due to manager’s bias. Discussions facilitated by the nine-box matrix can help to see things that may have been missed in every day work.

  • Enables teamwork and shared ownership

In a management team, even in a functional organization, talent management is one of those things that can be worked on collectively, even if your individual teams serve different functions.

  • Development

It acts as a development tool as well as a talent review tool. With the nine-box tool, you can evaluate what actions need to be taken for development purposes. The nine-box tool is commonly used nowadays to agree on individual employee development plans.

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