The 9 box grid talent assessment is an individual assessment tool that gauges an employee’s talent level and potential for contributing to the organization.

A 3×3 box matrix is set up, with the vertical columns representing an employee’s growth potential and horizontal rows being an appraisal of their current performance. Depending on the square they end up in, the 9 box grid performance potential will help you to determine if an employee is ready to move up in the ranks or needs to undergo reassessment in their current position.

9 box grid talent assessment is a widely popular method of performance assessment for both it’s simplicity and reported effectiveness. This graphic exercise of evaluation is an ideal starter for constructive dialogue and in turn, can help develop discussion and teamwork.

What Do 9 Box Grid Talent Assessment Scores Mean

According to the 9 box talent management mode, the people who score in box 1 should be ready for top leadership within 6 months to a year. Those in boxes 2, 3, or 6 have a longer timeline but can be groomed for future leadership positions. Scores on the lower side have either reached their potential, need to be coached more actively or need to be reassigned to a position that better fits their skill set and job performance capabilities.

A good HR Professional should have as many tools as they possibly can to measure the performance of individuals in their company. 9 box talent management has time and again proven to be a useful resource in both gauging employee’s potential for upward mobility and assessing pain-points for underperformance.

9 Box Matrix Talent Management Example

Underperformance Effective Performance Outstanding Performance
High Potential 5

Experienced professional who is fit for a higher role, but may be dealing with performance issues that require coaching and mentoring.


Very high performance in current position. Provide stretch assignments to help them develop to the next level.


Consistently performs and exceeds expectations on assigned projects. Extremely reliable self-directed creative thinker and problem solver.

Medium Potential 8

Could progress in their skill level with the proper mentoring; test potential of this employee with stretch assignments and goals.


Potential for expanded responsibilities, but may need coaching in several areas before role expansion.


Their current role provides opportunities for growth. Training focus on improving strategic thinking and problem solving ability.

Low Potential 9

This employee should be evaluated for reclassification of role/responsibilities or to be removed from  the organization.


Effective performance, but this employee may have reached their career potential and may suited for advancement.


High performer who has reached full potential. Valuable employee who can grow communications and delegation skills.


Benefits of 9 Box Grid Talent Assessment

Here are the main benefits that are offered by this simple, effective method of talent assessment.


This straightforward skill assessment can be used by anyone in a management or HR position without extensive training. It’s simplicity also means that the results of the assessment are easy to understand and communicate for both the person administering the assessment and the person taking it.


9 Box Assessments are not proprietary and therefore free for anyone interested in using them. This gives companies the flexibility to invest in paid assessment tools and use 9 Box Assessments as supplemental assessment tool to compliment more analytically driven solutions.  

Facilitates Structured Dialogue

A 9 Box Matrix will help start a dialogue between employees and managers about mutual expectations for performance and mobility. Just as important, it will provide a structure to these discussions with summarized assessments of performance data laid out for both parties to see. Both of these factors help to create a more efficient and communicative workplace.

Is A 9 Box Assessment Enough?

The biggest detriment to this sort of matrix assessment is human error. Results can be skewed or flat out incorrect due to miscommunication or personal bias. Ideally, you are working at a company in which everyone is constantly striving to do their best, but even then mistakes happen. With that in mind, you may want to add another tool to your arsenal that helps to take miscommunications out of the equation. This way, you can use an analytically driven assessment tool to systemize performance evaluations and use 9 box talent assessments to provide a summary of multiple performance data sets, such as those gathered from your data-driven performance tool and assessments from managers.

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