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9-Block | How to measure potential?

Last post September 27, 2019 10:52 AM by debora. 1 repiles.

February 2, 2016 03:15 AM 1
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Join Date: September 10, 2009
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Post Date: September 27, 2019
Posts: 19
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9-Block | How to measure potential?

Dear community,

Recently, I was exposed to the 9-block grid for talent mapping based on performance and potential on Xand Y axis. I could understand the performance appraisal cycle being the means of consideration for mapping talent on the performance axis. But I fail to understand how is talent mapped based on potential, isn't this subjective to bias? How is potential measured for purpose of such an exercise?

Look forward to guidance from experts here.



September 27, 2019 10:522
Total Posts: 108
Join Date: September 10, 2009
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Post Date: September 27, 2019
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Location: India

Re: 9-Block | How to measure potential?


There are many different methods for assessing employees for leadership positions. You can assign them small leadership tasks to see how they perform. You may have access to some tests designed for leadership assessment.

One quick way to determine whether you have employees ready for leadership or some that might need a few tweaks is the nine-box method. When using this matrix, leaders are assessed on two dimensions: leadership performance and potential.


Managers usually can rate their employees fairly accurately and with confidence when it comes to assessing performance. The discussions should be unemotional and non-controversial. They often bring copies of employee performance appraisals (last three years) or business scorecards to talent review meetings, and rate the employee on a simple three-point scale:

  • A high performance
  • B medium performance
  • C low performance


It is often a struggle to assess potential. This is usually because leadership potential is not usually quantifiable, and is lacking a definition in an organization. Also, describing someone's potential is an attempt to predict future actions.

Leadership potential could be defined as the ability to adapt to different circumstances and challenges while maintaining proficiency and follower performance.

This measurement is an attempt to quantify the abilities of an employee based on past performances and what leadership knows about them.

Entries for potential in the nine-box are:

  • 1 High potential 
  • 2 Medium potential
  • 3 Low potential

Instructions for the Nine-Box

In the nine-box, there are 3 columns and 3 rows. As you look at the model, you see rows are labeled from top to bottom as potential. Sometimes these are numbered from top to bottom as 1-3. The columns are labeled as performance and sometimes labeled from right to left as A-C.

Box 1C rates an employee as low potential, and low performance. As you move to the right or up on the chart, the performance or potential goes up with each box. If you move up one box from 1C, you are placing an employee in 2C, average potential with low performance. In the center box, an employee would be average potential and average performance.

Your top performers with top potential are in the top right box, and the 3 boxes surrounding it are those employees that need a few tweaks to be placed in the top talent box.