It’s not like your boss wants to put you in a box, but talent management professionals might. According to Enterprise Investor, there’s a widely used nine-box employee rating system many of us have never even heard of. The amount of effort a company puts into developing an employee — say, you — may well depend on the box they’re assigned to.
The nine-box grid has two axes. The vertical axis rates an employee’s potential. The horizontal axis describes the employee’s current performance.
Figuring out the box management thinks you belong in can help you see where you need improvement and understand what, if anything, may be holding you back at the company. Obviously, if you’re in the lower left corner, it’s time to look for another more suitable job.
Most employees are in one of seven boxes.
- Low Potential, Average Performance: The person in this box is a reliable, all-around employee who should be encouraged to specialize. The goal for this person is retention, not growth.
- Low Potential, High Performance: This is probably a specialist or expert in some area, and that’s where that person will remain. They can be helpful in the development or training of others. Keep this person engaged so they’ll stay with the company and continue developing their expertise.
- Average Potential, Low Performance: This person may represent an opportunity. Try re-evaluating whether or not the current position is a good fit, and see if more training or coaching shakes something loose.
- Average Potential, Average Performance: This may seem like a medium rank, but it’s actually the box for the solid employee who keeps the company running and should be nurtured, motivated, and rewarded.
- Average Potential, High Performance: This person is currently valuable to the company and needs to be kept engaged so they don’t leave. Stretching this employee’s skills and challenging them may be productive.
- High Potential, Low Performance: This box means someone with potential is in the wrong job, on a dysfunctional team, or under an ineffective manager. Figure out and fix the problem.
- High Potential, Average Performance: This person’s future deserves cultivation with assignments that stretch the employee, coaching, and skills development. This person needs to be engaged for retention; after all, they may be a company leader someday.