9 Box Performance Potential Matrix

The 9 box grid allows managers to evaluate their team based on their performance and the potential they have to grow beyond their current role.  This is a great succession planning tool and can help leaders and managers see their team more clearly and take action.


Categorize team member performance into one of three categories of performance and potential:

Low performance – they are not meeting their goals.

Moderate performance – they are matching the job requirements & meeting goals partially.

High performance – they are doing great in meeting their goals.

Low potential – improvement not expected, lack of ability and/or motivation.

Moderate potential – room for some advancement in terms of performance or expertise.

High potential – performing well and ready for promotion immediately or in the next 2 years.

NOTE: Consider more specific criteria for the company on the best way to evaluate each employee, and collaborate on placement with input from others, not just the direct manager.

9 Box Quadrants & Action Plans

Bad Hires.  These employees score low on performance and potential.  They can suck the energy out of a time, cost time and money for an organization and have a negative impact on culture. Consider an alternate role or better yet, move them out.

Inconsistent and Average Performers.  These employees are divided into two categories.  Average performers have low potential to learn and grow making them poor investments for an organization.  Inconsistent performers have some potential but low performance.

– Create a personal improvement plan to identify roadblocks and clarify required skills with quantifiable expectations.
– Check in monthly on their performance to analyze progress.
– If there is no improvement after a period of time, move them out of the role/organization.

Solid Performers and Puzzles.  Solid performers are high performers, with limited potential.  They are valuable to organizations and should be taken care of with appropriate rewards and appreciation.

– Keep them in roles that suit their skillset, be careful not to overpromote them.
– Analyze potential shifts in their role and prepare them as much as possible.

Puzzles have high potential but are under-performing.  Action steps include:

– Give them time to develop/improve performance – clearly communicate expectations.
– Consider shifting into a different role better aligned to their potential.

Future Stars.  These are growth employees, core players and high performers.  They make up the company’s core workforce and can transition into more advanced roles.

– Communicate clear expectations and requirements.
– Appreciate their work and accomplishments.
– Give them challenging assignments and look for those who seem to have leadership traits.
– Find them a coach or mentor to provide learning and training opportunities.

Stars.  These are your current high performers and future leaders.

– Hand over challenging assignments.
– Check in regularly to spot early signs of dissatisfaction. Appreciate them openly for their contributions to the business.
– Build network opportunities to connect with other stars.
– Give them roles in committees and company-wide task forces.
– Ensure their compensation is competitive.

9 Box Performance Potential Worksheet