What is 9 box talent matrix in succession planning?

Megha Sharma
4 min readMar 6, 2024


The 9-box talent model is a vastly implemented for performance and potential matrix, which is in turn useful for succession planning and development. Although the tool was present to the public for a long time, there are only few who know the intricacies of the mechanism and its essentiality while planning and building a leadership team.

When assessing employee performance, managers pay attention to two things. First, their performance and second, how well they are likely to perform in the future. For instance, hardworking employees who do well in their role but have little growth potential are great to have in the team. However, low-performing employees with low potential need a lot of management attention and are unlikely to improve. These require a different approach. The 9-box grid offers a framework that is helpful to manage all employees in a firm.

9 box talent matrix in succession planning

The talent management department works to assign employees to relevant boxes on the grid depending on the two categories. The x-axis gives inputs related to the employee’s present performance, and the y-axis about their potential — a prediction of their performance in the future.

While the conversation demands to be known, the process is by its nature iterative. Inputs into the present performance or future potential of one employee may transfer the thinking about another. Discussions about the organizational goals or the competitor landscape might lead to a various perspective on the value of the skill sets or aptitude in the future.

Benefits of 9 box grid

There are many advantages of using a 9-box grid, a few of them are:

✦ Set things up swiftly

The best thing is it is very quick to set up and it is very easy to use. Intuitive drag and drop offers to organize and re-organize the employees within the talent pools in no time. The graphical layout also makes it simpler to see where there are gaps, so one can put in place and plan accordingly to fill them.

✦ New perspective

The process of assigning employees to various parts of the grid is collaborative, managers benefit from hearing the opinions of others, so that there will be more focus on the assessment of employees’ progress and potential can be created.

There are chances that the manager’s relationship with an employee has biased their assessment of his/her performance. It can also be possible that the respective employees show-cased capabilities to their manager, but they weren’t aware of when collaborating on a project with a different team. There will be various collections of opinions that will eventually get new perspectives for everyone involved, offering a more informed discussion.

✦ Plan for the future

The process requires to begin with a constructive conversation. The real value is in how to use the information to improvise the succession planning and employee career development, so that they can ensure continuity and growth, and take the business to the next level. For instance, employees identified as having high potential, high performance and showing signs of being future leaders, or future stars, will need to be nurtured so they remain challenged and rewarded. Maybe they’re the ones who will be integral to the success of an upcoming project or fill the position of a superior who has left.

✦ Highlights development opportunities

High potential but low performing employees may need motivation with the help of a stretch assignment, mentoring or a change in position within the organization. Candidates consistently assigned to low potential and poor performance will need a completely different strategy.

✦ Objective decision-making and resource allocation

By using standardized criteria and rating scales, organizations can ensure consistency and fairness in talent evaluations, leading to more informed decision-making in talent management. Prioritizing high-potential employees and critical roles, organizations can optimize their investments in leadership development initiatives and talent management programs.

✦ Alignment of Talent Strategies like Development and Coaching

It enables managers to have data-driven conversations with employees about their career aspirations, strengths, areas for development, and goals for advancement within the organization. By assessing employees’ performance and potential in relation to specific competency areas or leadership capabilities, organizations can tailor talent development initiatives, training programs, and succession plans to address critical skill gaps and strategic objectives.

End notes

It is highly advised to use a 9-box grid for a more in-depth evaluation process. The HR managers are required to form what they need out of this process to manage well all the employees in an organization.

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Megha Sharma

HR Specialist, with a sharp eye to attract and top talent, develop existing talent along with managing employee relations.