Nine Leadership Development Strategies for a Performance and Potential Matrix

I’ve written previous posts on how to use a 9-box performance and potential matrix for assessing leadership performance and potential.

I’ve also provided three general development strategies to use once leaders are assessed:

I’m often asked for more specific information and development strategies for each of the nine boxes on the grid.
Here’s a breakdown for each of the nine boxes. These are of course just general guidelines, and judgement needs to be applied depending on context and the unique needs of the individual leader.
1A (high potential, high performance):
· Stretch assignments, things they don’t already know how to do, assignments that take them beyond their current role; high profile, where stakes are high
· Give them a “start-up” assignment, something no one has done, a new product, process, territory, etc…
· Give them a “fix-it” assignment, a chance to step in and solve a problem or repair someone else’s mess
· Job change, rotations, job swaps, – an opportunity to experience a brand new role, short term or long term
· Help them build cross-functional relationships with other A players
· Find them a mentor – at least one level up. Provide an internal or external coach
· Access to exclusive training opportunities
· Access to meetings, committees, etc… one level up; exposure to senior managers, VPs; advisory Councils
· Watch out for signs of burnout
· Watch for signs of retention risks; know how to “save” a hi-po
· Next level up exposure, responsibilities, shadowing
2A (high performance, moderate potential):
· Development activities similar to 1A
· Difference is often degree of “readiness” for larger roles. Development is preparation for longer term opportunities

3A (high performance, limited potential):
· Ask what motivates them and how they want to develop
· Provide recognition, praise, and rewards
· Provide opportunities to develop in current role, to grow deeper and broader capabilities and knowledge
· Provide honest feedback about their opportunities for advancement if asked
· Watch for signs of retention risks; know how to “save” a “hi-pro” (high professional)
· Ask them to mentor, teach, and coach others
· Allow them to share what they know, presentations at company meetings, external conferences, to be “the highly valued expert”

1B (good/average performance, high potential):
· Development activities similar to 1A
· Difference is current performance level
· Focus more on competency gaps that will move them from B to A performance; good to great performance

2B: (good/average performance, moderate potential):
· May not be eager or able to advance; don’t push them, allow them to stay where they are
· Continuously check-in regarding willingness to advance, relocate
· Provide occasional opportunities to “test” them
· Provide stretch assignments
· Provide coaching and training
· Help them move from “good to great”
· Tell them they are valued
· Listen to their ideas
· Praise their accomplishments
· Trust them

3B (good/average performance, limited potential):
· Combination of performance management, training, and coaching to help them move from “OK to good”
· Provide honest feedback about their opportunities for advancement if asked
1C (poor performance, high potential):
· Find out the root cause of poor performance and together develop an action plan to improve
· Consider moving the high potential to a different role (may have been a poor fit)
· Provide additional support, resources
· Look for ways to “attach” to 1As, 1Bs, or 2As
· After a “reasonable” period of time, if performance does not improve, then re-examine your potential assessment
2C (often used for leaders too new to rate):
· Focus is on boarding, orientation, relationship building
· Provide a peer mentor
– Provide formal new leader training

3C (poor performance, limited potential):
· Use a performance management approach, not a developmental approach
· Improvement action plan vs. an IDP
· Clarify expectations
· Identify and remove “blockers”, poor performers that are standing in the way of high potentials · Provide clearly defined goals
· Be explicit about the ways in which they must improve
· Provide remedial coaching and feedback
· After trying all of the above, after a ”reasonable” amount of time, move the person out of the role. Dismiss or move to individual contributor role

This post was sponsored by Atlantic Global, experts in developing and delivering cost-effective
 project management software.