9 box succession planning

Understanding 9 Box Succession Planning? From Implementation To Real-life Success Stories

Are you a manager looking to unlock the full potential of your team and groom future leaders? Have you heard about the game-changing strategy called 9 Box Succession Planning? Well, you’re in the right place! Imagine having a crystal-clear roadmap that identifies high-performing individuals with remarkable potential within your organization. Picture the power of aligning your talent pool with your long-term business goals. With 9 Box Succession Planning, this becomes a reality. 

In this blog, we’ll dive deep into what 9 Box Succession Planning is, how it works, and the incredible benefits it brings to the table. So, prepare to embark on a leadership development journey like never before.

Let’s dive in!

What is 9 Box Succession Planning?

9 Box Succession Planning is a strategic framework used by organizations to identify and develop high-potential employees for key leadership positions. The “9 Box” refers to a grid that assesses individuals based on performance and potential. This tool enables managers to evaluate employees’ current performance and future potential, visually representing their talent pool.

The grid is divided into nine quadrants, each representing a unique combination of performance and potential levels. These quadrants help categorize employees as high performers with high potential, high performers with low potential, low performers with high potential, or low performers with low potential.

By leveraging 9 Box Succession Planning, organizations can make informed decisions about talent management, such as identifying successors for critical roles, providing targeted development opportunities, and creating succession plans that align with the company’s long-term vision.

The Components of 9 Box Succession Planning

The Components of 9 Box Succession Planning:

The 9 Box Grid

The centerpiece of 9 Box Succession Planning is the 9 Box Grid, a visual representation of employees’ performance and potential. It is typically a 3×3 matrix, with the performance rating on one axis and the potential rating on the other. The grid is divided into nine quadrants that represent different performance and potential levels combinations.

Performance Assessment

Assessing employees’ performance is a critical 9 Box Succession Planning component. Managers use performance metrics, feedback, and performance reviews to evaluate individuals based on their current job performance. This assessment provides insights into how well employees perform in their roles.

Potential Assessment

Evaluating employees’ potential focuses on their ability to take on higher-level responsibilities and readiness for future leadership positions. Factors considered may include skills, knowledge, ability to learn and adapt, ambition, leadership qualities, and interpersonal skills.

Calibration and Consistency

Calibration sessions are conducted to ensure fairness and accuracy in the 9 Box Succession Planning process. These sessions involve multiple managers or leaders coming together to discuss and align their assessments of employees’ performance and potential. Calibration helps reduce biases and ensures ratings consistently across different teams or departments.

Employee Development Plans

Development plans can be created once employees are placed within the 9 Box Grid. Each quadrant of the grid requires a different approach:

  • High performers with high potential (top right quadrant) may be earmarked for accelerated development programs and considered future leaders.
  • High performers with low potential (bottom right quadrant) may receive targeted skill-building or specialized training to enhance their contributions within their current roles.
  • Low performers with high potential (top left quadrant) may benefit from coaching, mentoring, or additional support to improve their performance and tap into their potential.
  • Low performers with low potential (bottom left quadrant) may require performance improvement plans or other interventions to address performance issues or explore alternative roles within the organization.
Check out “Top 12 Succession Planning Questions To Find The Potential Successors

Regular Reviews and Updates

The 9 Box Succession Planning process is not a one-time event but an ongoing practice. It requires regular reviews and updates to reflect employee performance and potential changes. This ensures that succession plans remain relevant and aligned with the organization’s evolving needs.

By effectively leveraging these components, organizations can identify and develop the right talent, align individuals with suitable career paths, and foster a robust leadership pipeline for the organization’s future success.

Implementing 9 Box Succession Planning

Step 1: Identifying Key Positions and Roles 

Begin by identifying your organization’s key positions and roles that are critical for future success. These could be leadership positions, specialized roles, or positions that require specific skills or knowledge. Clearly define the competencies and qualifications needed for each role.

Step 2: Assessing the Performance and Potential of Employees 

Evaluate the performance and potential of your employees. Gather data through performance evaluations, feedback from managers and peers, assessments, and discussions. Consider factors such as job performance, achievements, leadership abilities, adaptability, willingness to learn, and future growth potential.

Step 3: Mapping Employees onto the 9 Box Grid 

Place employees within the appropriate quadrant of the 9 Box Grid based on their performance and potential ratings. Use the grid as a visual representation to categorize employees into different segments, such as high performers with high potential, high performers with low potential, etc. This mapping provides a clear snapshot of your talent pool.

Step 4: Analyzing Gaps and Developing Action Plans 

Analyze the gaps and opportunities revealed by the 9 Box Grid. Identify areas where there is a shortage of talent or where development is needed. For high-potential employees, create action plans that include mentoring, training, stretch assignments, or leadership development programs. For employees in the low-performance categories, develop performance improvement plans or provide necessary support and resources for development.

Step 5: Regularly Review and Update the 9 Box Grid 

Succession planning is an ongoing process. Regularly review and update the 9 Box Grid to reflect employee performance and potential changes. Conduct calibration sessions with managers to ensure consistency and fairness in ratings. As employees grow and develop, their placement within the grid may change, necessitating adjustments to development plans and succession strategies.

By following these steps and consistently implementing 9 Box Succession Planning, organizations can effectively identify and develop future leaders, address talent gaps, and align their workforce with long-term strategic goals.

Check out “10-Step Succession Planning Checklist To Make A Smooth Leadership Transition

9 Box Succession Planning Grid

The Benefits of 9 Box Succession Planning

  1. Identifying and Nurturing Future Leaders: One of the key benefits of 9 Box Succession Planning is its ability to identify high-potential employees who exhibit high performance and future leadership potential. This enables managers to proactively identify and nurture individuals who can step into critical leadership roles in the future. By investing in their development, organizations can ensure a robust pipeline of talented leaders to drive success and continuity.
  2. Enhancing Talent Retention and Engagement: Implementing 9 Box Succession Planning demonstrates employee growth and development commitment. When employees see that their organization invests in their career progression, they feel valued and are more likely to stay engaged and committed. Identifying high performers and their placement in the appropriate development programs can motivate employees, increase job satisfaction, and improve retention rates.
  3. Promoting Effective Workforce Planning: With 9 Box Succession Planning, organizations gain valuable insights into their talent pool and its readiness to meet future demands. By identifying potential gaps in leadership and critical roles, organizations can take proactive steps to address them. Succession plans can be developed, ensuring a smooth transition when key positions become vacant due to retirements, promotions, or unforeseen circumstances. This strategic approach to workforce planning minimizes disruptions and maintains operational continuity.
  4. Fostering a Culture of Continuous Development: Implementing 9 Box Succession Planning encourages a culture of continuous learning and development within the organization. It emphasizes the importance of investing in employee growth, improving performance in current roles, and preparing for future responsibilities. This culture of continuous development benefits individual employees and contributes to the organization’s overall growth and success by fostering innovation, adaptability, and agility.
9 Box Succession Planning empowers managers and organizations to identify and nurture future leaders, enhance talent retention and engagement, promote effective workforce planning, and foster continuous development. By leveraging these benefits, organizations can strengthen their leadership pipeline, create a positive work environment, and position themselves for long-term success in a rapidly changing business landscape.

Real-Life Success Stories: Examples of 9 Box Succession Planning

General Electric (GE)

GE is known for its robust talent management practices, and 9 Box Succession Planning played a pivotal role in its leadership development. By implementing 9 Box Succession Planning, GE identified and nurtured future leaders within the company. One notable success story is Jeff Immelt, who went through GE’s succession planning process and eventually became the CEO. This case showcases how GE effectively utilized 9 Box Succession Planning to develop and promote internal talent, ensuring a smooth leadership transition and maintaining its position as a global leader in multiple industries.


IBM, a global technology and consulting company, leveraged 9 Box Succession Planning to drive leadership development. IBM identified high-potential employees through their 9 Box Succession Planning process and provided them with targeted development opportunities. One success story is that of Ginni Rometty, who rose through the ranks at IBM and eventually became the CEO. This example highlights how 9 Box Succession Planning can help organizations identify and groom future leaders, ultimately contributing to their long-term success and sustainability.

Procter & Gamble (P&G)

P&G, a multinational consumer goods company, implemented 9 Box Succession Planning to strengthen its leadership pipeline. Through their 9 Box Succession Planning process, P&G identified high-potential employees and tailored individual development plans to enhance their skills and capabilities. This approach resulted in the successful development of leaders like David Taylor, who became the CEO of P&G. The case of P&G demonstrates how effective implementation of 9 Box Succession Planning can cultivate a talent-rich organization and facilitate smooth leadership transitions.

Check out “”How Succession Planning And Leadership Development Go Hand-in-Hand With 5 Examples


In the fast-paced business world, developing effective leaders is crucial for success. 9 Box Succession Planning offers a powerful framework to identify and nurture high-potential employees, aligning them with key roles and fostering a culture of continuous development. By implementing this strategic tool, organizations can proactively plan for future leadership needs, enhance talent retention, and promote a culture of growth. The real-life success stories of companies like GE, IBM, and P&G illustrate the transformative impact of 9 Box Succession Planning on leadership development

So, don’t miss out on this game-changing strategy. Embrace 9 Box Succession Planning and unlock the full potential of your organization’s leadership pipeline. Sign up for Risely, an AI copilot leadership development coaching platform, to learn more and start your journey toward building effective leadership abilities.

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What is the 9 box in succession planning?

The 9-box grid is used in succession planning to assess and prioritize talent based on performance and potential, helping identify critical individuals for development and future leadership positions.

What is a 9 box template?

A 9-box template is a visual grid used in succession planning to plot employees based on their performance and potential. It provides a snapshot of talent distribution within an organization for effective talent management.

How do you complete the 9 box grid?

To complete the 9-box grid:
1. Evaluate employees based on their performance and potential.
2. Assess their current performance levels and their likelihood of successfully handling higher-level roles.
3. Place employees in the appropriate grid cell based on these assessments.

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