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Talent Management and Leadership Development: The “Talent Nine-Box Grid”

It was found that the human resources department is a big differentiating asset for this company.

The human resources administrator reports directly to the CEO, which is equivalent to a business CEO. He has sat on Executive Board, and, at the same time, he leads the HR Advisory Board, chaired by the CEO and Chairman, and responsible for the definition and approval of all the HR policies, the majority of which are related to talent management policies and contribute to the alignment with the global management strategy. As a result, the communication of talent management issues is facilitated, as though the sharing of ideas and concerns.

The Talent Management and Leadership Development area led by the Head of Talent Management and Leadership is responsible for the development and implementation of strategic talent management policies through the different HR departments, with a special focus on Top Executives. This area supports on the conceptualization and operationalization of employee’s personal development models, according to the company’s strategic guidelines and the best practices, in order to maintain and improve the talent pipeline of the organization.

However, it is important to highlight that the company, under the talent management and leadership development area, positions all the employees on a “Talent nine-box grid” which forms a very organized talent management System. The “Talent nine-box grid” is a matrix tool that is used to evaluate a company’s talent pool based on two factors, performance and potential.

The “Talent nine-box grid” is part of the Performance Management [25]. The Performance Management System’s target public includes all the employees, from team members to senior executives. The system applies equally to all the employees that have had a minimum of six months of exercise of functions. The evaluation stands on an annual basis with a formal follow-up in the middle of the year.

Therefore, in order to get a careful analysis of the company’s talent management system, we precede to a detailed analysis of the Performance Management System which crosses performance and potential.

The performance evaluation system [25] intends to adjust cross-cultural skills to the particular needs of each business. Thereby, it includes two different kinds of components:

  • (1) Evaluation components (individual goals; soft skills; technical skills).
  • (2) Information components (self-assessment; performance review; career development; development needs; reviewer’s comments; employee’s comments).

The employee’s global performance grade comes from the qualitative result of partial results obtained from the components Individual goals, soft skills, and technical skills expressed on the next performance scale [25]:

  • (1) Unsatisfactory;
  • (2) Needs improvement;
  • (3) Effective;
  • (4) Very good; and
  • (5) Outstanding.

The informative components are from major importance to the company because they assure data qualitative collection that complements the qualitative components which enables the connection between all the HR policies, particularly Career paths, and Training and Development.

In this regard, and with the exception of self-assessment, all the informative components are mandatory to this process. Self-assessment is recommended and preliminary to the performance evaluation interview.

On the informative component, career development takes place the discussion of the employee interests on global mobility, as well as the fit to that kind of career.

Therefore was created a mobility assessment which is the result of the evaluation of a crucial range of soft skills and technical skills to this issue, such as the following [25]:

  • (1) Commitment to organizational principles;
  • (2) Striving for excellence;
  • (3) Intercultural understanding;
  • (4) Communication skills;
  • (5) Ability to network effectively; and
  • (6) Foreign language skills.

The evaluation of performance system, as a connecting tool through all the HR processes, intends to identify the employees’ training and development real needs and the functions performed requirements. Thus, all the skills grades under 3 (reference level) will be listed as development needs.

Another crucial parameter to the Talent nine-box grid is potential assessment. To a company, a high potential employee is somebody who can rise to the top and can succeed in senior and critical positions.

Potential is the result of aspiration, engagement, and skills, which increase success probability on a senior position [25].

The potential assessment methodology adopted by the company is mainly explained by the following [25]:

  • • On the aspiration and engagement fields, there are three levels: 1—little; 2—medium; and 3—high;
  • • On the skills field, it takes place an automatic analysis to the employee skills gaps, through the difference between the level 4 on the skills evaluation (exceeds) and the employees average grade on the soft skills and technical skills evaluation: gap > 1: employee scores 1 on skills; gap > 0.6 < 1: employee scores 2 on skills; and gap < 0.6: employee scores 3 on skills.

The potential assessment result is automatically presented by the calculation of the partial average scores of each potential field [25].

  • • If the average result is between [1-2.5], the employee is on level 1;
  • • If the average result is between [2.5-2.8], the employee is on level 2; and
  • • If the average result is between [2.8-3], the employee is on level 3.

On level 1, it is not expected the rise of the employee to major responsibility and complexity functions within two or three years.

On level 2, if it takes employee development, it will be expected the rise of the employee to major responsibility and complexity functions within two or three years.

On level 3, it is expected within two or three years, and the rise of the employee to major responsibility and complexity functions.

Thereby and according to the scores of the employees on the Performance Evaluation and Potential Assessment, they are framed on the talent nine-box grid (performance vs. potential) [25] which follows below (Fig. 2).

This is a talent nine-box grid, 3 x 3, because the two lower scores (unsatisfactory and needs improvement) and the two higher scores (very good and outstanding) are agglutinated.

The employee’s framework on the talent nine-box grid is a valuable input, not only to the definition of priority policies but also as to the supporting tool to all the HR policies and practices.

The talent nine-box grid includes different segments to which match a specific color and designation (Fig. 2).

Therefore, at the end of the performance evaluation and the potential assessment, after the talent nine-box grids were properly completed, take place the Talent Forum Reviews at the performance management cycle. Through a global vision is discussed and adjusted the organization’s talent, based on a range of relevant indicators and analysis.

Talent nine-box grid. Source Performance management system manual [25]

Fig. 2 Talent nine-box grid. Source Performance management system manual [25]

The Talent Forum Reviews’ main goal is to identify and discuss the top talent management, with special focus on the next talent nine-box grid segments [25]:

  • • High flyers (employees with excellent performance and high potential who can make commitments on risky challenges in new areas or on their own) and fast movers (employees that achieve the expected performance levels and with high potential, who are able to take risks and can have different professional paths).
  • • Key people (employees that achieve the expected performance levels and reveal medium potential levels; they should strengthen their current function) and movers (employees with excellent performance and medium potential levels who can be eligible to horizontal mobility in the short run with the same complexity level).
  • • Questions Marks (employees who reveal medium or high potential, but who did not have the opportunity to show it yet; they reveal low-performance levels that could be related to some kind of functional mismatch or because they are a new admission).

Thereby, all the macro-action and development plans are designed for the employees. This process follows and incorporates the organization’s strategic planning cycle.

In this context, it is important to highlight the Management and Leadership Academy’s role on the leadership development, at the extent of training and development and career management fields. The Management and Leadership Academy’s main goals are as follows: contributing to the dissemination of organizational culture; creating moments of sharing experience; building networks among employees; and promoting internal mobility, in order to increase the synergies between different business areas.

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