What is

9-Box Grid


The 9-Box Grid is a tool human resources managers use to administer performance reviews. The grid groups personnel across nine key data points. Learn more.

As companies turn their attention to more effective human resources (HR) management, the 9-box grid has become an important tool for many teams. It helps talent management departments assess employee performance and plan succession. 

The tool is simple. It uses a matrix with nine boxes to create a visual representation of the employee’s performance. The visualization also highlights areas where the employee shows a lot of potential. 

While simple, many HR departments have found the tool effective. It helps organizations quickly make informed decisions on how to develop and plan their talent strategies. 

Understanding the 9-Box Grid

The 9-Box Grid is a matrix that follows a 3x3 grid. One axis represents employee performance and the other represents their potential. Each square in the grid represents a category that identifies the characteristics of the person’s talents. It also helps HR determine appropriate management strategies.

The performance axis typically ranges from low to high. It evaluates the employee's performance using a set of pre-defined criteria. Criteria may include key performance indicators (KPIs) or competency assessments. 

The potential axis assesses the employee's future growth. It also looks at whether the person is ready to take on higher-level responsibilities. This axis considers factors like leadership qualities, adaptability, and willingness to learn.

All employees are placed on the same grid. The model highlights those who are performing well and the outliers who are either failing or succeeding beyond their peers. This helps companies visualize performance data in a clear and fair way. 

Benefits of the 9-Box Grid

There are many reasons for HR departments to use the 9-box grid as a tool for team success. Here are some of the benefits of this approach. 

Identify High-Potential Employees
The 9-Box grid helps organizations identify staff members with high potential. These workers may be a good fit for leadership positions and other critical roles. By evaluating both performance and potential, companies are able to prioritize development initiatives and provide targeted opportunities for growth.

Engage in Strategic Succession Planning
The 9-box grid offers a clear visual representation of employees’ potential and performance. This helps organizations effectively plan for succession. Through the grid, they identify employees with high performance and high potential. Then, they can groom these team members for future leadership roles, reducing the risk of leadership gaps.

Tailor Development Programs
The grid helps see where employees are succeeding and where they may need more support. The individualized visual representation allows organizations to tailor development programs to the specific needs of each employee. This makes training more effective for individual career paths. 

Enhance Workforce Planning
Organizations use the tool to assess the overall composition of their workforce. They can easily identify areas of both strengths and weaknesses among their teams. This helps HR and leadership make strategic decisions about workforce planning in line with the company’s long-term goals.

Implementing the 9-Box Grid 

There are several key factors to consider when you’ve decided to implement the 9-box grid as part of your HR strategy. 

1. Ensure Clarity and Transparency
Before you roll out the 9-box grid as a tool for your entire workforce, make sure to inform your employees. Most importantly, they need to know and understand the evaluation criteria that will inform the performance review. 
This means that you should first clearly define the KPIs, competencies, and behaviors that align with the goals and values of your organization. 

2. Review and Calibrate the Tool Regularly
The 9-box grid is a living tool that shouldn’t be defined once and for all. Start with one version and iterate it as your organization changes and evolves. This way, the tool will be more effective in the long run and align better with your growing workforce. 

3. Invest in Your Employees
It’s not enough to understand where your employees are on the 9-box grid today. The tool aims to support professional growth and development. You should use the results as an opportunity to offer the right tools and resources for your staff to grow and improve. The 9-box grid will then help your track ongoing performance. 

Manage a Global Team Easily with Borderless 

New tools can be challenging to implement across a global team. At Borderless, we are experts in international employment. We help you understand the different work cultures across the globe and support you along the entire employee lifecycle in over 170 countries. 

Book a demo today to find out how we can help.