9 Box Matrix

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Contents

Overview

The 9 Box Matrix - an excellent and effective framework - is an effective talent management tool that identifies talent in an organization, emphasizes management and leadership skills rather than technical job performance, and carves development paths.

With the rise of multi-business enterprises in the 20th century, the 9 Box Matrix was developed by McKinsey in late 1960s and 1970’s, primarily for GE to evaluate and assess the potential of individuals in the business and to prioritize their overall strategy and investment amongst the 150 business units that they owned. It is claimed that the 9 box matrix was based on the Boston Consulting Group and their “Boston Box” of business or product potential was extrapolated to assess individuals.

Concept of 9 Box Matrix

It indicates performance and potential matrix. The horizontal three boxes, or the X axis, assess leadership performance. The vertical three boxes, or the Y axis, assess leadership potential. A combination of the X and Y axis makes up the box within the grid that the leader is placed.

Why 9 Box Matrix is Used

  • The most effective way to assess a person on two dimensions amongst a population of deserving individuals
  • It facilitates discussion and communication among senior teams. Teams can use it to calibrate their ratings and expectations
  • Identifies development needs of an individual and makes way for development planning
  • Facilitates a shared sense of ownership for the organization’s pool talent
  • Multiple perspectives provide a much more accurate assessment than the opinion of a single member

Use 9 Box Matrix Effectively For Talent Management

In order to attain high performance in accordance to organizational goals and to prepare for succession planning, it is necessary to retain top performers and entice new talent to join the organization. Many organizations are now realizing this and integrating performance and talent management systems into their business.

Talent management is a crucial aspect as it is about putting the right people in the right job and performing as highly as possible. In talent management, individuals are assessed and evaluated on two dimensions: potential and performance. The 9 box matrix specifies various categories of employees depending upon their unique combination of performance and potential ratings.

  • Enigma – Individuals with high potential but low performers. They are either wrongly placed or could be working under the wrong supervisors who have not been able to tap their potential. They are totally wasted in an organization. To help them perform, external intervention is required and open communication and feedback between employees and supervisors might be able to yield good results.
  • Dilemma – Individual with average potential but low performance levels. The reasons for this are many but to boost their performance, motivation, inspiration and encouragement, proper opportunities and communication can certainly yield the desired results.
  • Under Performer – Individuals with low potential coupled with low performance levels. Management provides them time to prove themselves but if they still continue to underperform and to not show scope of improvement, they may be asked to leave the organization.
  • Growth Employees – This category has people who show high potential but do not perform up to the mark. Upon motivating, providing challenges, opportunities, and words of encouragement, such employees deliver at a higher level, move forward and often turn into valuable assets for an organization.
  • Core Employees – Just like dilemma category, these individuals have high potential levels and are average performers but can be very promising. They need to be constantly challenged and pushed into giving their best.
  • Effective – Individuals with high performance levels but low potential. Such employees have reached their full career potential and need to be engaged and motivated to keep going.
  • Future Leaders – Best possible options for succession at senior positions. They score highest on performance and leadership skills. Such employees should be motivated, rewarded for their efforts, promoted and trusted with more roles and responsibilities.
  • High-impact Performers – By grooming and motivating, such employees can become future leaders.
  • Trusted Professionals – People score much higher than the potential because of their capabilities and talent. Such employees should be rewarded and recognized and their capabilities should be used to mentor other upcoming talent in an organization.

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