Create Training Pathways Using the 9 Box Grid

Create Training Pathways Using the 9 Box Grid
Jillian Bateman — January 23, 2023

As I write this, it’s approaching the end of the year. Not only does that mean holiday season where I have to play Santa Clause, chef, master wrapper, and entertainer, but I also have to start thinking about employee evaluations. Yep, the dreaded employee review process is approaching and that causes me anxiety, as I am sure it does many others. At ESA, we are looking at different tools to use to provide our team members thorough and constructive feedback and one of the search criteria for us is to find something that is quick and easy to use. In my searches I have come across a tool called “9 Box Grid”. The 9 Box Grid is not necessarily an employee evaluation tool, but it is a great talent management tool that will help you decipher what employees have potential for promotion, and which employees need reassignment and/or training pathways in specific areas. The grid allows you to honein on two specific things: performance and potential.  

Using the grid is pretty simple and fast – which is why it is loved by many HR managers. For each of your employees, you place them in one of the nine boxes. Your high performers should be in one of the far-right boxes, and the others should fall in one of the other boxes that you see fit. Those in the far-left boxes are those that need immediate attention, such as coaching, new job roles, training or even termination. Those in the center boxes would be deemed moderate performers who partially meet their job expectations. Those near the top of the chart have great potential and may need some training pathways or coaching to get them to a higher performance level. The employees who are placed on the far-right boxes tend to always meet their performance goals, but if you placed them in the lower box, maybe they don’t have the potential to be promoted based on their drive to learn new things or undertake a management role. Those in the upper right are ready and eager to take on new challenges and you believe they have the skills to succeed. 

The color coding added to the chart is also helpful as the red speaks for itself as anyone placed in the box needs some serious attention. Can their role with your organization be salvaged through training pathways or coaching? That may be a tough sell.  

Those that you place in yellow have potential but each of their situations needs to be assessed individually because depending on where they are placed on the grid, they could benefit from soft skills training – such as how to be a better communicator, improve their customer service techniques, or improve their troubleshooting skills. Others in the yellow may need specific technical training to better hone their installation efficiency. Finally, some team members may need some one-on-one coaching or mentoring to help them be a better contributor or a more engaged employee. These types of improvement paths take time and a commitment from the right coach. 

For more information about putting the 9 Box Grid into practice you can check out, as it has detailed examples of how each box can be dealt with.  

Once you have completed the 9 Box Grid for your team and a growth plan has been put in place, don’t forget to reach out to ESA’s training team as we can help you build a training pathway that is custom for each employee and can include both technical and soft-skill components. Learn more at our Training as a Service site ( , or contact [email protected]