Jim Glantz, Vice President and Head of Talent Development at The Wonderful Company, walked the audience through how to make the best use of the 9-box.
At the beginning of his interactive keynote address at the 2016 Human Capital Leadership Forum held on September 28 in Los Angeles, Glantz asked how many in the audience had used the 9-box matrix for succession planning. He then asked people who were familiar with the 9-box to sit next to people who weren’t to act as facilitators during his presentation.
“At our company, we’re in our infancy with the 9-box,” said Glantz, “but that’s sometimes good because you get a chance to see how it’s practically rolled out. This is going to be a very practical discussion, and those of you who haven’t used this framework will come out of this session with some tools. You’ll learn how to use the 9-box with your senior leaders and business partners, and you’ll take away some tips for conducting reviews,” he stated.
“Five years ago, we tried a talent review program and it failed spectacularly,” admitted Glantz. “Part of the problem was the business unit didn’t understand why they were doing this, what the objective was. First lesson I want to impart to you today is: Don’t do that. Figure out the group, figure out your objective, and figure out where you want to go with it. If you want to do a talent rotation of finance analysts, for example, you don’t need to do a talent review with every business unit president. You need to do a talent review with the CFOs and finance VPs of the company. Then they do a 9-box review of their staff,” he explained.
“Five years ago, we tried a talent review program and it failed spectacularly. Part of the problem was the business unit didn’t understand why they were doing this, what the objective was.”
“What’s the 9-box matrix? It’s a simple method of categorizing your employees using potential and performance,” said Glantz. “At my company, we look at current performance—although some organizations look at performance over time—and we don’t use labels. In the 9-box, there are labels like ‘rising star’ or ‘high potential’ or, on the bottom, ‘blocker.’ We don’t use these labels because they may stick. For example, if someone is given a poor label, it may simply be the case of a wrong job fit. The 9-box process should lead to some kind of action—talent development, job rotation, etc.”
“We don’t use labels because they may stick. For example, if someone is given a poor label, it may simply be the case of a wrong job fit. The 9-box process should lead to some kind of action—talent development, job rotation, etc.”
Before initiating a 9-box evaluation, Glantz said it was important to have a model of what skills will be assessed. At The Wonderful Company, his team came up with desired skills such as entrepreneurial spirit, discretionary effort, communication skills, people development, and ethics. “We had a definition for each one, and we collaborated with our senior leaders on these definitions so we all had the same understanding of what the definition meant,” he said.
“We modified the 9-box template to focus on current performance with three layers of ratings: unsatisfactory, meets expectations, and exceptional. On the Y axis, we had potential and drive. We’ve basically merged two concepts: Potential is one thing, but drive is also important to determine whether someone is promotable. Then we categorized by T, M, and L—top, middle, and low tier in terms of promotability. The reason we did that is you might be a T3 (top tier, exceptional), but you might get new job responsibilities and shift to T1 (top tier, unsatisfactory). We expect you to improve and, the point is, this is a fluid categorization. Some people are L3s—superb in their job but not viewed as promotable—sometimes because the person doesn’t want to relocate and, to be promoted, that’s necessary, or it could be they don’t have drive,” he observed.
“We also did a talent profile, which is almost like a resume in that it lists work history, title, performance history over time, career motivation (short-term, long-term, willingness to relocate), and their career steps (what they’re ready for now, in two years, and in four-plus years),” he explained.
“A talent profile is almost like a resume in that it lists work history, title, performance history over time, career motivation, and [employees’] career steps.”
Glantz summed up, “The great advantage of the 9-box is it gives you a framework for having discussions about talent with your senior staff.”
ABOUT JIM GLANTZ:
Jim Glantz is an Executive of Organizational Development & Training with 20+ years of relevant experience managing Learning & Development and Organizational Development departments. Jim holds a doctoral degree in Organizational Development with an emphasis in Culture Change and Employee Engagement. Jim also attended UCLA where he received a Master’s in Education.
Jim currently is the Vice President of Talent Development for The Wonderful Company (a $4B CPG company, with products including FIJI Water, Halos, Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds, POM Wonderful, and more). In this capacity, Jim has built and launched numerous talent development initiatives, including The Wonderful Academy, a central training department that offers several multi-day leadership programs. To date, these programs have trained over 400 executives and 600 Managers. In the next two years, the programs will be expanded to train the company’s supervisors and salespeople.
In addition to training, Jim has launched numerous programs relating to talent management, including the 9-Box Calibration program, a Talent Review for the Company’s Finance organization, and a company-wide Employee Engagement Survey. In past positions with other companies, Jim has managed departments in Talent Acquisition, Organizational Development, and Change Management.