A 9-Box Talent Grid is an effective tool for planning, developing, and managing an organization’s talent. This matrix takes into consideration both performance and potential, helping organizations identify top performers and high-potential employees. By using this grid, organizations can better understand their current talent and make data-driven decisions about the future of their talent management strategy. Below are five tips for using the 9-Box Talent Grid for successful talent management.

Develop Objective Talent Management Criteria

The 9-box talent grid can provide a framework for successful talent management when utilized with proper criteria. Compiling the criteria that measures a person who is successful and considered a leader in their specific role is the most important part of this process. Depending on the organization, it is highly recommended that the criteria be reviewed and tweaked regularly to ensure it is up-to-date with industry trends and standards. Here are a few tips to help you develop the proper objective criteria for your organization's talent management strategy.

Analyze Current Performance

Objectively analyzing the current performance of your employees is an essential first step in creating your criteria for using the 9-box talent grid. Every employee should be evaluated based on their current performance, which should be objectively tracked and documented. Taking into account factors such as performance reviews, accepted competencies, job-related skills and abilities, and job knowledge can help form the criteria for creating a successful talent management strategy.

Review Performance Objectives

It is also important to review performance objectives to determine what areas each individual is excelling in and where they need to improve. Criteria that is solely focused on high performance creates an unattainable environment and can be unrealistic and demotivating to employees. Revised criteria should consider an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and measure current performance, potential performance, and desired results in order to create a more realistic and achievable leadership development goal.

Establish Talent Assessment Categories

With the performance objectives and current employee performance data in hand, it’s essential to form narrow and well-defined talent assessment categories. Once the criteria are outlined, the 9-box talent grid can provide a clear picture of each of your employees’ strengths and weaknesses on a sliding scale based on their current performance. Doing this is a great way to make sure all employees are given an equal opportunity to develop their talents and become successful in their roles.

  • Analyze current performance
  • Review performance objectives
  • Establish talent assessment categories

Assign Appropriate Ratings

The 9-Box Talent Grid is a great tool to help organizations identify and develop their best talent. Utilizing the 9-Box Talent Grid to its fullest potential, however, requires that appropriate ratings are assigned. This section of the blog post will address two important considerations when assigning ratings: the range of ratings and the rating assessment and analysis.

Range of Ratings

It is important to consider what range best captures talent potential. Although many organizations use a 1-9 rating range, some have used a 0-7 or a 0-5 rating scale. If you decide to use a 0-7 or 0-5 rating system, be sure to adjust the talent grid accordingly. This could involve changing the terms for the boxes, either matching the 0-7 or 0-5 rating scale, such as “high achiever” or “strong performer” for a 7, or to use a different lead-in such as “excellence” for a 7.

Rating Assessment and Analysis

Once the rating range is determined, it is important to rate each individual appropriately. This will be a subjective assessment as ratings should not just be based on performance but should also encompass potential. When carrying out the assessment and analysis, it may be helpful to consider factors such as technical and job proficiency, achievement of results, initiative and leadership potential.

Organizations should then take the time to analyze ratings and make changes as necessary. It is often useful to meet with key stakeholders when conducting the assessment and analysis in order to brainstorm ideas and gather input from different perspectives. Utilizing the 9-Box Talent Grid in this way will help ensure that ratings are a true representation of each individual’s potential for future development.

Define Potential Actions

A comprehensive talent management strategy involves implementing the right actions to ensure success. With the 9-box talent grid, you can determine the range of possible actions that can help maximize the return on human capital investments. These potential actions include development opportunities, movement and promotions, and terminations and reassignments.

Development Opportunities

Development opportunities can be tailored to each employee based on their individual level of talent. These opportunities can include further education, extra assignments, and coaching and mentoring opportunities. They help employees reach their full potential and enhance their performance.

Movements and Promotions

If your organization is growing, movement and promotions are key components of a successful talent management strategy. The 9-box talent grid can be used to quickly identify individuals with exceptional talent and potential to fill positions of higher responsibility within the company.

Terminations and Reassignments

Terminations and reassignments can also be a part of your talent management strategy. If employees are consistently performing below expectations, or if there are positions that need to be filled more efficiently, it can be necessary to terminate employment or reassign personnel to different roles within the company.

5. Identify Relationship to Board-Level Goals

The 9-Box Talent Grid is a tool used by organizations to evaluate talent and potential, analyze competency development, and ensure the achievement of rigorous performance goals. To make the most of this useful tool, it's important to identify how it connects with the goals of the Board of Directors.

A. Ensure Goal Alignment

By aligning its Talent Grid with the Board's goals and objectives, an organization ensures that it has the right people with the right skills in the right places. It also means that performance goals are observed to ensure successful achievement. This alignment should stretch across the entire organization, from the executive and senior teams to individual contributors.

B. Subordinate Goals to Overall Strategy

It's also important to subordinate individual goals to the organization's overall strategy. This means that each goal should be measured against the organization's overall objectives. The Talent Grid should be used to monitor individual contributions and performance, helping to track progress and ensure compliance with the organization's strategy.

By taking the time to identify its relationship to board-level objectives, organizations can ensure their use of the 9-Box Talent Grid is maximized and has maximum potential to improve performance and drive success.

Monitor Performance Over Time

The 9-Box Talent Grid helps organizations to identify high-performing individuals and leaders, but it doesn’t end there. In order to ensure successful talent management, organizations need to track the performance progress of their high performers over time. It’s important to actively monitor the progress of leaders and other high performers to ensure that they continue to contribute to the company’s success. Additionally, organizations should use the data collected from their 9-Box Talent Grid assessments to compare the performance of their high performers to industry trends.

Track Performance Progress

The 9-Box Talent Grid is an effective way to measure the performance of individuals and teams within an organization. But in order to effectively utilize the 9-Box Talent Grid, organizations must be sure to actively track the progress of high performers. Tracking performance on an ongoing basis allows managers to identify areas of improvement, set goals for high performers, and ensure that individuals are meeting the organization’s expectations.

Benchmark against Industry Trends

Organizations should also utilize the data collected from their 9-Box Talent Grid assessments to benchmark their high performers against the performance of other organizations in their industry. Comparing the performance of high performers in a given organization to industry trends provides organizations with valuable insights about their talent management processes and helps them to identify areas for improvement.

By monitoring the performance of high performers over time and benchmarking against industry trends, organizations can use the data collected from the 9-Box Talent Grid assessments to identify areas of improvement and ensure that they are achieving successful talent management results.


The 9-box talent grid is an essential tool for talent management and can play a major role in successful, long-term team building and planning. By actively considering and evaluating qualities such as current performance, potential, and future trajectory, organizations can utilize the 9-box talent grid to create comprehensive, detailed, and accurate assessments of their personnel.

There are several key tips that organizations should keep in mind when using the 9-box talent grid, including having multiple assessors, talking with team members and managers, and having regular reassessment. Whether the grid is used as part of an overall organizational talent management strategy or as a discrete tool for assessing individual performance, the 9-box talent grid can be a major advantage to organizations that are looking to maximize their team’s potential.

Talent Grid Benefits

Some of the main benefits of using the 9-box talent grid include:

  • A complete assessment of a team member’s performance, potential and future trajectory.
  • The ability to strategically plan for team development and improve performance in the long run.
  • A standard assessment that can allow for comparison of team members.
  • A review process for individuals that can be used for positive motivation.

Review and Reassessment

Finally, organizations should ensure that they are regularly reviewing and reassessing team members via the 9-box talent grid. The grid function is most effective when used as part of an ongoing evaluation of personnel, rather than a one-time assessment.

By ensuring that the 9-box talent grid is evaluated and reassessed regularly, organizations can ensure that their team members are consistently up-to-date on their skills and performance. This allows for the continual improvement of teams by focusing on the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth of each individual.

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