The 9-box model, also known as the 9-box grid, is a tool used to analyze, display, and compare employee work performance and potential. This user-friendly performance map is a talent management tool that helps HR and managers effectively identify leaders and strategically prepare employees for future roles. The 9-box model is a self-explanatory chart that helps leaders place the right person in the right position at the right time. 

How to use performance mapping as part of your performance management program - 9-box-grid-1-1900x829.png

The grid includes an X and Y axis, with the X-axis representing performance and the Y-axis, potential. Leadership teams can measure performance based on past performance reviews and gauge employee potential based on a set of pre-established criteria. 

Why should HR leaders care about the 9-box model?

The 9-box model helps HR professionals proactively prepare for inevitable people changes. The 9-box model offers a cost-effective, simple method to:

  • Pinpoint internal leaders
  • Reevaluate talent placement
  • Improve succession planning 
  • Ignite dialogue
  • Identify performance issues and talent gaps 

With effective implementation of the 9-box model, companies can better match employees to positions, facilitate employee growth, and contribute to retention, engagement, and productivity. 

What can HR leaders do to implement the 9-box model successfully?

HR can integrate these practices to use the 9-box matrix to leverage talent:

  • Prepare. HR leaders can facilitate a pre-meeting to introduce the 9-box grid and instruct managers how to use it. Managers can use this opportunity to openly discuss, collaborate, and familiarize themselves with the new system. Providing tangible examples of behavior typical to each box in the grid enables managers to rate employees accurately.  
  • Determine criteria. Rather than analyzing every employee, HR leaders should focus on a specific tier or people division. HR leaders should also decide how the model will measure potential to ensure that employees are treated consistently and according to the same standards.  
  • Take action. The 9-box model serves as a stepping stone for employee progress and growth. After analyzing employees, identifying top performers, or selecting high-potential individuals, leaders must take action. Perhaps a group of high potential employees is ready for job-specific learning and development, while others can train to take on leadership roles. 
  • Put it into context. HR leaders can use the 9-box model in conjunction with other assessment methods, such as 360 reviews, to enhance the talent management process.  
  • Incorporate frequent performance reviews. Consistent performance reviews allow employees to receive and give pertinent feedback. Performance reviews provide essential information for creating 9-box models while also giving employees constructive ways to elevate their performance. 

How can the 9-box model improve company culture?

The 9-box model provides a screenshot of an employee’s performance and potential, enabling leadership to analyze human talent and determine where to allocate it. Not every employee has to excel in the same discipline, yet each unique employee can offer talent or skill that strengthens the company and enriches its work culture.