Saturday, November 17, 2007

Using the performance and potential matrix to assess talent



Note: for an updated (Jan 2012) version of this post, see The Performance and Potential Matrix (9 Box Grid) – an Update.

The performance and potential matrix (9 box grid) is one the best talent management tools I’ve ever used. Here’s a tutorial on how to use the tool:


What is it?

The matrix is used to evaluate an organization’s talent pool. Here’s the basic format:
The X axis (horizontal line) of 3 boxes assesses leadership performance and the Y axis of 3 boxes (vertical line) assesses leadership potential. A combination of Y and X axis makes up the box within the grid that the leader is placed. 1A - High Performance/High Potential, 3C - Low Performance/Low Potential, etc...

Why use it?

1. It’s a simple way to assess any population of leaders on two important dimensions

2. It’s a great way to facilitate a dialog amongst a senior leadership team. Teams use it to calibrate their expectations and ratings

3. With a good open debate, the multiple perspectives provide for a much more accurate assessment (vs. one person’s opinion)

4. The process can facilitate a shared sense of ownership for the organizations talent pool

5. It’s a great way to identify development needs and transition to development planning

How to use it

The tool is best if used by a team and facilitated by someone who has experience with the process. This could be an HR person, OD consultant, or someone responsible for leadership development or succession planning. You should present the tool and process to the team to make sure they all understand and buy in to the purpose and process. Don’t underestimate the amount of anxiety if a team has never done anything like this before (a ranking exercise). It’s best to decide ahead of time how performance will be assessed (use a leadership competency model if you have one) and how potential will be assessed (again, best to decide ahead of time – I use specific potential criteria).

You could also ask for any other relevant information, such as years in current position, diversity status, retention risk, or relocatability. I usually have each manager plot their direct report managers (one level at a time, so we’re comparing apples to apples) and send their completed grid to me. I then consolidate all of the names on to one grid. Either as part of a multi-day off-site meeting or a standalone four hour meeting bring copies of the consolidated grid and start the discussion.

It’s easier picking someone in the 1A box (highest performance and potential) where you think there may be little disagreement. Ask the sponsor manager to explain the rationale for the assessment. Ask lot’s of why’s, then invite all others to comment. Don’t rush it, the benefit of this process is in the discussion. After all have been heard from, if there is agreement, then you have a benchmark for all others to compare against. If disagreement in perception, ask the sponsor manager if they want to change their mind based on the feedback – usually they do – but if not, leave it. Pick another name until you establish the benchmark. You can then discuss rest of the names in the 1A box, then move to the bordering boxes (1B and 2A). Then move to the 3C box, and again, facilitate a dialog to establish another benchmark. Continue the discussion for each person, or as many as time permits.

If time, or most likely at a follow-up meeting, the team can then discuss development plans for each leader. For succession planning, the focus should be on the upper right hand corner boxes (1A, 1B, and 2A) – this is your high potential pool.

Next Steps

Follow-up on a quarterly basis to monitor development plans. Repeat the assessment process at least once a year.

3/28/09 Update:

I've since written the following posts on using the potential matrix:

Nine Leadership Development Strategies for a Performance and Potential Matrix

Leadership development for A players

Leadership development for B players

Leadership development for C players

Reader Question: Nine Box Performance and Potential Matrix Best Practices

How to “Score” Leadership Potential When Using the Performance and Potential Matrix

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you show a picture of the performance and potential matrix (9 box grid), I have searched the internet and no joy! Thanks

Dan McCarthy said...

Yes, it would have been better to include a picture, but I couldn’t figure out how to draw it on blogger. I would be willing to send you a word document template.

Dan

Anonymous said...

Are there also any definitions how to asses the potential (for the grid)? I know that is very subjective, but are there some genaral observations for each of the 3 groups that can help with making the decision?
Thanks. Sasa

Dan McCarthy said...

Sasa -

See post "How to identify leadership potential:
http://greatleadershipbydan.blogspot.com/2007/11/how-to-identify-leadership-potential.html.

While it won't tell you if someone is a 1,2,or 3 it will at least give you some consistent, research-based criteria to remove some of the subjectivity. I've also used other factors, such as willingness to relocate and "readiness" to differentiate.

Dan

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,

I have been searching fot the performance Potential matrix a couple of weeks now, and at last some one that can help me.

Please send the matrix to me.

Carlien

nagel_carlien@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,

Can you please e-mail me the Performance Potential Matrix?

Thanks
Shayna

shaynac29@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

Looks like this is just what I have been looking for. Could you send me the necessary please - karlfandango@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Dan

Would it be possible for you to send me the Performance Potential Matrix? I've just come across this and it is really pertinent to where my team currently are.

Simon Bagni

simon_bagni@spring.com

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,

New to this type of approach but seems like it would be a good template for assessment. Please would you forward word doc.Thanking you in advance.
BAH
buster6632@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan
Would you please send me the matrix (9 box grid). My email address is naledimoletsane@yahoo.com

Thanx
Naledi

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,
Can you please send me the matrix (9 box grid). My email address is cpfplan@yahoo.com

Candi

Louise said...

Hi Dan
Would be great if you could send a copy to me and the advice you gave on "How to identify leadership potential" - the link on the blog no longer exists.
Thanks so much
Louise

louisesummerton@yahoo.co.uk

Bob.Vilcheck@dhrm.virginia.gov said...

Can I get a copy of this matrix?

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,
This is exactrly what I've been looking for. It could be possible for you to send me the potential matrix?
My email is diguz10@hotmail.com

Thanks a lot

Diego

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan

This looks like exactly what I need. I would be so grateful if you could send me the matrix?
My email address is Katie_tyndale@yahoo.co.uk

Thank you!
Katie

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,

Could you please mail me a copy of the matrix or publish it in your blog..It would be so much useful for many of us - I guess there are lot of us (readers) troubling you with this same request..hope you dont mind!.

Thanks
Rose

Dan McCarthy said...

Rose -
I'd be glad to send it to you, but I need your email address.
I can't publish it - it's a word document, and the blogger template I use can't upload a document.
you can email me at djmccart3 at rochester.rr dot com

Anonymous said...

Hello. Could I get a copy of the matrix template as well? Thank you so much!

ellen.serrano@i4cp.com

Anonymous said...

Thank you for giving me information I really need - brilliant!! Would also like the matrix document. My email is 'signposts@telkomsa.net'
MUCH appreciated!
Rae

Anonymous said...

thank's from me too, its been a good reading and insight,
perhaps to minimize the need of sending email, you can just upload the document to http://www.scribd.com or esnips.com
cheers,
EJ

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these great info I have been looking for something like this for awhile.
Could you please mail me a copy of the matrix. My mail is solrunk@or.is

Thank you and greeting from Iceland
Solrun

Anonymous said...

I've also been looking for a 9 box grid. Could you please send it to me?

Many thanks

Dan McCarthy said...

Anon 3/30 -
be glad to, but you'll need to email me

Anonymous said...

Dear Dan,
I also want you to send me all the info you can about the 9 box matrix, also I want to ask you if a book exist on this subject.
Thanks in advance for your support
solorza1@yahoo.com

Austin Tay said...

Hi Dan,

I was looking for information about 9 Grid box and stumble upon your site. Could you send me more information on the matrix.

Thanks a lot

Austin

austintay@omnipsi.com

Dan McCarthy said...

Austin -
I'm glad you found Great Leadership!
I's suggest searching the archives on this siste - use the google search bar, and look under "performance potential"; you'll find a number of posts.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan, can you send the matrix to the email id gwendsouza@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,can you send the matrix to the email id mailsaurabhusuman@gmail.com

amolgupta said...

Hi Dan

I am thinking of 9 Box matrix in our organistion , but first need to answer the following questions before i take this up with my top management , can you help me to answer these

1. Why are we doing this ( Bacially Rationale behind / establish the need)
2. What Initiatives we need to take
3. What does the organisation we get out of this.

Regards
Amol Gupta

Anonymous said...

Guess it's hard to keep a good thing a secret. Funny, this person wrote an article just like yours - verbatim.


http://en.allexperts.com/q/Human-Resources-2866/2008/11/9-box-performance-potential.htm

Dan McCarthy said...

Anon –
Thanks for pointing that out to me. Looks like outright plagiarism to me. Whatever.

Sandy Farley said...

Just discovered your site - your articles and insight are right on! Thanks for your time/ energy in sharing your wisdom and knowledge. Could I also get a copy of your grid? My email is: sandee3454@gmail.com

sandy said...

I have been reading this blog and found it really worth. I read most of the guys are still asking about the meaning of boxes, I found and article on same thing but more expanded and I think It will clear the doubts. You can read it here http://ashusaini.blogspot.com/2010/11/performance-and-potential-matrix.html. There is a complete article on Competency Mapping. Its grt

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I found the information very useful.
What are the typical behaviors or results an employee would show to be placed in each Box? Would it be possible to have a list of it? Does it vary according to the professional level?
Best regards,

Dan McCarthy said...

Anon -
Yes, the behaviors vay, by organization, level, etc....

Anonymous said...

I am interested to know once the organization compiles this data...what are some of the demographics they may be interested in seeing or tracking?

Dan McCarthy said...

Anon -
Some organizations track EEO data, others track location, age, position, organziation, all kinds of stuff.

Carol Essig said...

Hello,

For those of you looking for a 9 box grid, I'm happy to share- please email at cessig@santander.us.

Best wishes,
Carol