50 Development Ideas for the 9 Box Performance and Potential Matrix

When using the performance and potential matrix
(9 box) to assess leaders, some organizations will assess each employee, then
discuss development at a follow-up meeting, or worst case, not at all.

An emerging best practice is to discuss specific
development strategies for each employee as a part of the assessment
discussion. That way, information concerning strengths and weaknesses is fresh
in everyone’s minds and it’s a natural transition to move to strategies to move
each employee to the next level of readiness.
While there may not be time to discuss every
employee on the 9 box grid, high potential employee development should be
discussed. These are the employees that will probably end up on succession
planning lists, so it makes sense to involve the entire leadership team in
brainstorming development strategies for these employees.
Here are general development guidelines for each
of the nine boxes. These are of course just general guidelines, and judgment
needs to be applied depending on context and the unique needs of the individual
leader.
I would also caution against the temptation to
come up with cute labels for each of the nine boxes (i.e., “rising stars”, or
“steady performers”), or a list of descriptive characteristics for each of the
nine boxes. These labels and/or descriptors will typically just cause confusion
and add little value to the discussion.
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, Board of Directors
·        
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
·        
Continue to assess for
potential
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
·        
Provide candid feedback
and express your confidence
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 onboarding,
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


Need help with your
own talent review meeting and creating robust leadership development plans? I’ve
run hundreds of them. Contact me to discuss.