Career Development

and the 9 Box Matrix

Publication Snapshot:

JRA Employee Engagement

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This Issue Contains:


Career development and the 9 Box Matrix:

Are you missing the aspiration piece?

By Jo Mills

We regularly talk about Talent and potential with our clients, and the 9 box Matrix is a commonly used tool to map of your workforce across two factors: performance (x axis) and potential (y axis).  Individuals will fall into one of 9 boxes, based on performance and potential ratings.

Once you have done the hard work of analysing individual performance and potential, this matrix provides a simple visual representation of where your talent sits, highlights any gaps across the matrix and shines a light on any problem areas.

However, often we find that there is a missing X factor that is left out of the equation.  When talent don’t want to engage, or seem to be stagnating despite development intervention, aspiration may be a factor.  Current aspiration is not always measured as part of potential and as a result, talent initiatives or development can lack the ‘why’ factor for some participants.   

For example, a high talent, and high potential person may be granted automatic access to your talent programme. However on discussion, you find that personal circumstances, motivations or values mean that they have no desire to climb your corporate ladder. Their aspiration lies in a different direction, and as such they may not wish to be considered for that next step up.  Their career goals lie in a different direction. However, they may be excited to look at a lateral move, broadening skills or developing in a different way.  Knowing the aspiration piece about your talent, enables you to customised individual development and talent programmes that will inspire and motivate that individual.

So how do you find out about that X factor – the desire, aspiration or motivation of your talent?

From a career development perspective, we find that career development conversations help to tap into this in a meaningful way.    

Career Motivators

What energises and drives me at work? Should I follow a management or specialist path?

Career Talents

What talents do I have and want to use?

Career Preferences

What interests do I have and how do I bring these to work?



What is important to me? How do I want to be rewarded?

Firstly what are the values, motivations, talents and interests of that individual?   By understanding what is important to your talent, you can create development initiatives and retention strategies that work.


Secondly, what is the individual’s career plan or strategy?  Knowing the long term goals of your staff member, will mean that tailored programmes can be created that clearly link the personal career goals to their current role or the success of the organisation. That link provides energy and spark, and helps individual to say Yes to the right opportunities for them in your organisation, retaining them for that much longer.

Targeted career initiatives for people at each level of performance/potential can help them to make great career decisions plus tap into the missing factor of aspiration which may not have been measured in the past. .

Career Development and the 9 Box Matrix

Click the image to zoom in

Talk to us about how we can help you tap into the aspiration of your talent pool or general staff.  Contact Jo Mills on 0800 TALENT or 09 523 0000

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Publication Snapshot: JRA Employee Engagement:

We’re All In This Together (2010)

Reviewed by Lynley Hooper

Retrieved from:

An engaged workforce is a productive workforce and HR practitioners are often tasked with increasing the level of engagement within their organisation.  Of course knowing what the engagement levels are and what is important to employees within the organisation is an important step to knowing what to do to increase the level of engagement.

JRA is leading the way in surveying the engagement levels of organisations across the country. The following is an overview of the JRA Employee Engagement: We’re All in This Together, the fourth in a series by JRA over the last four years taking a glimpse at engagement levels in New Zealand.

This publication delves into the issues concerning organisations during the recession and features information on the engagement levels of employees in specific sectors along with some interesting case studies within each sector of organisations who have successfully upheld engagement levels.

JRA assert that engagement is about a relationship between employer and employee. Employers need people who are willing to go above and beyond but must remember that engagement can’t be required as such. It is something that an employee has that they can offer.  And people are more likely to be engaged when working for organisations that have what they need in the workplace. Things like good leadership, communication, good resources and feeling valued.

JRA uses critical questions in its engagement survey and then classifies people into three groups – engaged, ambivalent and disengaged.

Engaged – those who promote your organisation, who will go the extra mile

Ambivalent – not engaged enough but neither are they dissatisfied enough. Most people in most organisations fall into this category with 58.9% of employees falling into this category in the 2009 survey.

Disengaged – they are disconnected from the organisation. They are not getting anything from the organisation that is motivating or engaging for them and the organisation is not getting the best from the employee.

The 2009 JRA Workplaces Survey had almost 28,000 employees from more than 200 organisations across the private, public and non-profit organisations. Even though the recession dominated the latter half of 2008 and 2009, the survey showed that the percentage of engaged employees actually increased between 2008 and 2009 from 33% to 35%. However what the recession has done has seen that those who are disengaged intending to stay which is can clearly be an unfavourable situation (rising from 20% in 2007 survey to 24% in 2009 survey).

One of the findings that JRA provided was that as well as disengaged employees intending to stay within the organisation, they were also more likely to absent themselves in other ways.  For example, absenteeism was four times more likely in those with a less engaged workforce versus a more engaged workforce.



The JRA Best Workplaces Survey results 2009

Overall Survey Results

The 2009 JRA Best Workplaces survey found that the Performance Index average across all sectors is 73%. The Performance Index is “the weighted mean score of the 60 questions that make up JRA Bestworkplace Survey, and provides us with an overall assessment of employees’ perceptions of the climate of their organisation.” (JRA, 2010: 13)

The proportion of employees in the Engaged category across all sectors was 35.3% (33% in 2008), 57% in the Ambivalent category (58.90% in 2008) and 7.7% (8.1% in 2008) in the Disengaged category.


Survey Results – By Sector

Retail – With 198,000 employees in retail according to Statistics New Zealand, this sector is the second largest of those rated in the survey. Based on 3,893 respondents, in spite of the recession, the retail sector had the most positive evaluation of their organisations with engagement scores having increased since 2008 and the Performance Index  at 76% sitting above the 2009 survey results average (73%). Thirty-eight percent of employees were engaged with 53% of employees being ambivalent. The top three drivers of engagement were:

  • feeling a sense of belonging to the organisation
  • having a sense of personal achievement from their job and
  • feeling that their contribution was valued there.

Finance and Insurance – Based on 5,902 sector respondents, the finance sector also provided positive ratings for their organisations in comparison to the average ratings of 2009 with the Finance and Insurance sector Performance Index at 74%. However, their ratings on workplace climate however have decreased somewhat since 2008 when it was at 75%. Thirty-six percent of the sector fell into the Engaged category while 57% fell into the Ambivalent category. As in the retail sector, the top three drivers for Finance and Insurance were feeling a sense of belonging to the organisation, feeling one’s job gave a sense of personal achievement and feeling their contribution was valued there.

Public sector – The public sector ratings including central and local government administration, defence and public safety, were the same as those provided by this sector in 2008. This sectors ratings are lower than the average ratings of the 2009 with the Public sector Performance Index at 70% while as stated above, the 2009 survey average is at 73%. It is also the lowest of the five sectors.  In comparison to the 2008 ratings, there are a significantly smaller proportion of respondents classified as engaged now at 27% and a higher proportion classified as ambivalent now at 65%. The key drivers for this sector were similar to the previous two sectors with feeling a sense of belonging to the organisation and one’s job giving a sense of personal achievement. The third key driver for this sector however was having confidence in the leadership of this organisation.

Professional services – Based on 4,674 respondents, this sector showed that the Performance Index was down slightly at 72% on the 2008 rating which was 73%. The three engagement categories were the same as the2009 survey average with the percentage of engaged employees at 35% and ambivalent employees at 57%.  Interestingly, the three key drivers for this sector were exactly the same as those for the Retail and Finance and Insurance industries.

Manufacturing – With 228,520 employees, manufacturing is the largest sector reviewed. Although the manufacturing sectors Performance Index is below the 2009 Performance Index average of 73% it has shown the largest increase in its performance index from 68% in 2008 to 71% in 2009. However, the proportion in the Engaged category at 33% is lower than the survey average of 35.3% while the proportion of those in the Ambivalent category at 58% is higher than the survey average of 57%.  The three top key drivers for this sector are identical to the Retail, Finance and Insurance and Professional Services sector.


In Summary

  • What is clear is that regardless of which sector people are in, the key drivers for employees are similar. These are:
    •  feeling a sense of belonging to the organisation
    • one’s job giving them a sense of personal achievement and
    • individuals feeling that their contribution is valued in the organisation

Knowing what these drivers are is essential in developing and implementing strategies to increase levels of engagements. These are what the employees have said are important to them so these should be key areas of focus for anyone involved in retaining and engaging staff. How these play out and what these mean within specific organisations obviously need further clarification.

  • In spite of the recession, engagement levels across these sectors have been generally favourable having increased in most sectors. Why these levels have increased during a time of economic turmoil is interesting and perhaps reflects how important employers regard engagement to be, and their continued plight to implement initiatives that increase levels of engagement.
  • What the information in the report also provides is vital information for organisations in various sectors who want to increase their engagement levels over the next year. What needs to be focused on the sector to increase engagement?


We have only touched on the findings of the JRA and the information in the ‘We’re all in This Together’ publication. Click here for the full article JRA Employee Engagement: We're All In This Together and case studies of organisations within each of the above sectors.

How is your organisation stacking up in the engagement levels arena? Have you been tasked with increasing your engagement levels? If so, talk to us at Career Analysts. We work with a number of large organisations in the retention and engagement of key talent. If you would like to talk with us about the work we have done in this space, or how you can use career coaching as a vehicle for the above, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always keen to share how we have assisted organisations to retain and engage their people.

To find out more about creating an engaged workforce, please call Lynley at Career Analysts on 0800 TALENT or email


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Career Strategy Sessions

Impactful at all levels, this intensive programme is effective for those who want to make strategic career decisions or plans, or gain clarity about their career. Talk to us about this 1-1.5 hour career session and how it can help your talent create exceptional careers.

For more information click here or call us on 0800 TALENT.

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Trade Me Jobs: "It's Business Time"

Last month we announced our participation in the new Trade Me Jobs series "On The Job", following four Kiwis as they hunt for jobs.

Episode four is now available to watch online, featuring Career Analysts General Manager Jo Mills!

Click here or the image below to start watching EPISODE 4!

Click to Watch: On The Job Episode 4

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Click here to visit the Career Analysts website.