9 Box Grid for Succession Planning

More than 90% of companies fail to implement Succession planning. Succession planning is essentially the process of identifying and training potential future leaders. It has an important role to play in the overall long-term success of a business. This can often be an area of ​​strategic planning that gets overlooked and put on the back burner when it comes to priorities.

We know that well-executed succession planning helps organizations make better long-term decisions with future planning for success. When done well, it's a powerful tool to help assess whether team members are in the right places and help prepare high-potential employees for future growth within the organization. The question then becomes, how do you find those team members and prepare them to take the organization into the future? Using visual tools like the 9-box grid and the performance value matrix is ​​a great way to help recognize team members who are showing great performance and great potential.

What is the 9 box grid ?

The most commonly used tool for succession planning is the 9-box grid. The vertical columns of the grid indicate growth potential and the horizontal lines indicate whether the employee is currently below, meeting, or exceeding performance expectations. The intersection of the two determines the current position of the employee and where development may be needed.

Creating a 9 box grid

There are many ways the score and performance can be calculated. To understand how to create a 9 box grid let's look at the following example.

1. Let us create a Potential VS performance graph (matrix can be changed based on organization need)

2. Now categorize everyone into three levels of performance and three levels of potential

  • Low performance: individuals do not match the requirements of their job and fail their individual targets.
  • Moderate performance: The individual partially matches the requirements of their job and their individual targets.
  • High performance: The individual fully meets the requirements of their job and their individual targets.
  • Low potential: The individual is working at full potential and is not expected to improve, either because they are at maximum capacity or because of a lack of motivation.
  • Moderate potential: The individual has the potential to further develop within their current role, this can be in terms of performance, but also in terms of expertise.
  • High potential: The individual performs well beyond the expectations of their position and responsibilities. Employee naturally and enthusiastically take on leadership roles, and are ready for a higher position.

3. plot performance V/S potential on a 3×3 grid to build the 9 box grid.

Benefits of 9 box grid

1. Simple and Easy to use

The 9 box grid model is a tool with a fairly simple and straightforward structure. During employee review, all management needs to do is match them to the right box based on their performance and potential. The way the grid is visualized makes it easy to catch on, even for those completely new to use the 9 box grid. The 9 box grid gives a clear picture of how well individuals are performaining.

2. Helping to identify valuable people

The 9 box grid allows HR , Manager or HOD to spot high performers in the organization with great potential and identify what they need to improve to develop skills for the future. HR has the data to back up decisions of where and how to direct resources to engage and develop these employees. Additionally, when internal promotions come up, management knows exactly who to offer these opportunities to.

A holistic approach to talent appraisal

The 9 box grid model provides a more well-rounded approach to performance management. HR won’t get sucked into a single element of an employee’s performance, and will be able to assess both current performance and future potential. Different then other methods 9 box grid itself is a holistic approach which gives a clear picture of whis employees are the best and who need the evaluation and also who need to be terminated.

Versatile tool for succession planning

The 9 box talent grid aids not only for talent management, but also for workforce planning. For example, this tool gives you a complete overview of the potential of employees and in which position they might thrive in the future.In other words, it facilitates succession planning. Or you can also use the 9-box grid to identify employees with leadership potential and move them to management tracks.


When it is time to identify who are the best and least performers in an organization, the 9 box grid is the best tool to use. With a 9 box grid can manage employees with different levels of performance and potential in the organization. So, organizations can use it for performance management, talent management, and succession planning. Keep in mind that the real value of the 9 box grid is not to put your employees on certain labels. Rather, it is during the appraisal process and subsequent discussions that you will have the opportunity to assess employee success and ensure that your organization is investing in the right development strategies. As such, be sure to clearly communicate the talent and performance management practices you use during the process.