The Case for Junking 9 Box Assessments | SAP

Talent Management

This short article speaks to the 9 box assessment tool–a tactic that organizations have used for years in which they assess employees using a 3×3 grid (one axis for performance and one potential). The “box” that an employee gets categorized will usually inform the actions taken such as the level of development or future opportunities that the employee may be afforded. And although the 9 box may still work within some organizations, many have called for alternatives to assessing talent. My personal take is that the 9 Box: 1) Adds more complexity without value. Only a few boxes are actually used in practice. 2) Raters still struggle to differentiate between performance and potential in spite of definitions. 3) There is an emphasis on top and bottom boxes, which overlooks talent planning for the bulk of an organization. 4) Complexity requires multiple calibration sessions, often spending inordinate time on discussing “nuances” that don’t add practical, business value. If the 9 box works for you, then great. But if you feel it is no longer as relevant given today’s talent environment and priorities, it could be a good time to make a change.

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