The performance potential matrix (3x3 grid) has been in use over the years & has added good value to the Performance Management Process. However, there is one category that states an individual having low performance & low potential. Yes, it is possible that an individual is not performing adequately in the given role, but isn't it unfair to conclude that he also has low potential? He may have the potential but might be struggling to perform due to various reasons.
Any thoughts on this?

From India, Mumbai
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Learning & Teaching Fellow (retired)
Nagarkar Vinayak L
Hr And Employee Relations Consultant


Dear Aditi, The following link is very useful for your query on Performance Potential matrix

From India, New Delhi
Dinesh Divekar

Dear Aditi,

It appears that you have confused between the concepts of "performance" and "potential".

There are two definitions of the word "performance". These are given below:

Definition with respect to the past: - any recognized accomplishment

Definition with respect to the role: - process or manner of functioning or operating

In general, when we talk about performance, we refer to the past.

In contrast, "potential" is for the future. It is defined as the inherent capacity for coming into being.

In the 9-box matrix, there could be a situation wherein an employee may not perform and incidentally, he/she may not have the potential to grow. The possibility of this kind could be rarest of rare but cannot be ruled out per se.

When the management models are designed, these are designed for all types of situations. Their applicability is universal and the designers cannot rule out any possibility. If the employee gets into the "LL" box, i.e. low-performance and low-potential situation then it shows poor recruitment practices. A robust recruitment practice is expected to assess a candidate's ability to perform and also check whether the candidate has the potential to grow. However, occasionally, the recruitment team is under pressure to fill the vacancy and they may ignore the candidate's ability to grow. But at the same time, they rely on the performance at the previous organisation and believe that the candidate could deliver the same level of performance.

The "LL Box" syndrome is the reflection of the poor training practices in the organisation. The training department must focus on elevating the performance of the employees. However, self-obsessed HR/Training professionals concentrate more on the method of the delivery of the training and also the ability of the trainer to obtain "excellent" feedback from the participants. Moreover, they also just stop at taking feedback and do not do any follow up after the training.

Anyway, a 9-box matrix for matured organisations. It is not child's play. The implementation of 9-box requires the hiring of a consulting agency as well.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Nagarkar Vinayak L

Dear madam,

I share your view that low performance and low potential grid is controversial and perhaps should not be mixed. Potential measurement is a subject that yet not very fool proof. What hidden abilities one possesses and what will draw it out cannot be predicted with precision. Performance is demonstrated abilities on the role in a 'given period' under reference and reasons for low performance could be both due to external factors as well as internal which are unique to the individual. To tag potential assessment with performance, in my view, is erroneous.


Vinayak Nagarkar

HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai

This reminds of a story that I had heard. A Captain of an army unit was a bit hesitant in promoting a corporal to sergeant. However, his boss was in favour of promoting as he saw the potential in him. He told the captain "A corporal cannot act like a sergeant till he gets his three stripes."
From United Kingdom

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