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A “nine-box grid” is a matrix tool that is used to evaluate and plot a company’s talent pool based on two factors, which most commonly are performance and potential. Typically on the horizontal axis is "performance"measured by performance reviews. On the vertical axis is typically "potential" referring to an individual's potential to grow one or more levels in a managerial or professional capacity.
Nine-box grids are actively used during the talent review process. During this process, a group of managers works together to place individuals on the X-Y axis to help to identify who are the highest potential individuals, who needs development, and who needs coaching on performance improvement. It is also a very valuable tool to help in calibrating compensation decisions.
Each of the nine boxes has a different set of actions associated with it. People who are very high performing in their current roles, but not "high potential" yet, are possibly experts in their functional area who may or may not want to move into leadership. Our research and assessments have many examples of these tools and how to manage the talent review process.