Tool for identifying & retaining key talent in organizations – 9 box grid
The nine box grid or matrix, is believed to have originated within McKinsey to assess different business units and to prioritise the investment in individuals. This was developed for GE in the late 1960s and 1970s to enable them assess the potential of individuals in its business and prioritize their investment and overall strategy. It is claimed that it is based on the Boston Consulting Group and their “Boston Box” of business or product potential, applied to individuals. (The GE–McKinsey nine-box matrix) *
Identify and retain talent
Before we can retain key talent we need to identify who and what key talent is. We also need to understand that not every quality employee is a High Potential, High Performer employee. Just because someone performs well in their current role does not make them a potent performer in the next role. Indeed, many managers and leaders fail as they were promoted on the basis of their technical job performance, not their management or leadership potential.
The concept of the nine boxes
The horizontal of 3 boxes assesses (leadership) performance and the vertical assesses (leadership potential). A combination of these makes up the box within the grid that the leader is placed.
Why use the nine box grid?
- It’s a straight forward way to assess any population of leaders on two important dimensions
- It’s a useful tool to facilitate a dialogue amongst a senior leadership team. Teams can use it to calibrate their expectations and ratings
- With an open debate, the multiple perspectives provide for a much more accurate assessment compared to one person’s opinion
- The process when used by all managers can facilitate a shared sense of ownership for the organizations talent pool
- It’s an effective way to identify the development needs of individuals and explore the transition towards development planning
- Provides a framework for succession planning
Putting the nine box grid to use – Talent Management
Every individual has unique capabilities and talent. An employee of the organization will be able to contribute effectively if the talent he or she possesses suits the job profile otherwise it will be regressive for both the employee and the organization. The company will have to hire new resource or retrain an existing one leading to wastage of resources. That’s why we say that it takes talent to find talent.
Organizations put their best efforts to attract and retain best performing employees and hence talent management is a crucial aspect for them. Talent management is the process of managing the current top performers and attracting the new credible individuals to join the team to attain high professional performance in accordance to company’s goals. It is basically the art of putting right people at the right place and utilizing them to their full potential. Many companies are now realizing the need of the hour by putting up strong teams and incorporating talent management into their business strategies.
From talent management’s point of view, an employee is evaluated on the basis of two aspects: potential and performance. The track record or previous performance of the employee forms the basis for his or her selection for a particular role. But talent management also looks into the potential of the employee to evaluate how an employee will perform if appropriate skills are made available. The nine box model of talent management as illustrated in the figure specifies the categories of employees depending upon the various potential levels plotted against performance levels.
Talent management is a key element to an organization’s succession planning process
Lets have a look at these categories:
These are the kind of employees who are completely wasted in an organization. They are the people with high potential but deliver low performance. They are either wrongly placed or are working under wrong managers who have been unable to harness their full potential. This scenario requires external intervention and a heart to heart with the employee and the manager can yield good results.
The employees having average potential but showing low performance fall under this category. The reason could be many: not upgrading as per the job requirement, not falling in line with the changes in the company. They can perform better if given proper opportunities and motivation.
These employees are the individuals with low potential coupled with low performance. They under perform and don’t show any scope for improvement. Here the management has to take a tough decision of either throwing the ball in their court and giving them some time to improve their performance or asking them to leave the organization.
This category has employees that constantly show high potential but the performance is not up to that standard. They may not be getting enough motivation or inspiration to move forward. The company should value the talent and should try to extract the best out of every employee. These kinds of employees can become great assets for the company by giving them enough challenges and by praising them as they achieve goals. It further instills a sense of confidence and the performance is bound to increase.
This category has employees that more or less perform up to the job potential but there is always a chance to achieve higher performance by giving them necessary push. They are just like employees in the category dilemma but are more promising.
These are people with specific talents as they show higher performance as compared to their potential. They may have reached their full career potential so here the talent management team can keep them engaged, focused and motivated to get the desired results.
These employees are the leaders of tomorrow and are the best possible options for succession at senior positions. They depict leadership qualities and yield results. People listen to them and they know how to get the work done. Talent management team should recognize their efforts and should reward them appropriately. Promote them and give them the chance to grow as an individual and also as a part of the organization.
High Impact Performers
High impact performers are those who by some grooming and motivation can become the future leaders. They may have lost pace with the changes in the organization like dilemma and core employees but can be among the top talent.
Trusted professionals perform much higher than their potential because of some special talent they may be having. Your effort should be to retain them by rewarding and recognizing their efforts. You can always take their help to develop high performers.
This nine box model shows how you can do effective talent management by recognizing the categories of employees using the appropriate techniques to retain and groom the top talent pool. The talent management system is of even more importance in tough economic times as it helps in optimizing the performance of the employees and achieving profound growth in the organization. So go ahead and execute a proper talent management system.
*This was first mentioned in a publication in 1979 in Fortune, volume 100 (unable to verify) and again in 1981 Strategic marketing: betas, boxes or basics (loose ref)
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