Nine box model of performance- potential and succession planning

Importance of Succession Planning

The process of identifying, training and coaching potential future leaders of the organisation is called succession planning. When succession goes awry companies fail example

  • McCain Foods– Brothers in Disagreement.
  • The Gucci Feud.
  • Reliance Industries – When Splitting a Company in Two is Not Enough.
  • The Viacom Saga.

Succession planning is very important role for the long term. It comes strategic planning and is most of the times overlooked. Succession planning helps organisations make better long term decisions.

A proper assessment of the team members to ensure they are in right places, right departments and holding right titles. It also helps in assessing the need of grooming the potential employees for the bright future of the organisation.

Nine box model of performance potential

To identify the members who are ready to take higher responsibilities , nine box is a widely used tool.It is a simple and very effective tool. It helps in recognising the members with high performance and high potential.The model works well most of the times and only runs into trouble when communication is not transparent.

The model is arranged arranged on an x and y axis. x axis represents performance and potential is plotted on y-axis.

The most valuable position is the top right box, which is composed of those ranking high in both performance and potential. Conversely, the bottom left box is the place for those ranking low in both categories.

This illustration is a catalyst for constructive dialogue and in turn, will facilitate discussion, teamwork, and development. The idea behind the matrix is that by identifying how each employee fits into the grid, you can better understand where each employee stands and how they should be positioned in future organisational shifts.



May be a candidate for reassignment, reclassification to a lower level or to exit the organisation.


  • Consistently underperforms in his/her role.
  • Is questioned about his/her ability to succeed in the current role .
  • Not meeting performance expectations
  • Having trouble keeping up with the demands of the current role
  • Inconsistently demonstrates the organisational values and core responsibilities.
  • More to learn in the current position.
  • Unwilling to take on additional responsibility.

Action : Bad hire or poor fit. Find replacement



Effective performer, but may have reached career potential; try to coach employee on becoming more innovative, focus on lateral thinking.


  • Currently meeting expectations – steady, dependable .
  • Currently performing up to his/her potential.
  • If current role changes or expands in scope, he/she might not be able to handle or manage responsibilities.
  • Behaviour is in accordance with the organisational values and competencies, however inconsistently.
  • Does not exhibit interest in taking additional responsibility or in taking a higher role.

Action : Engage, Focus and motivate. Needs improvement in current role.



Experienced high performer but has reached limit of career potential. Still a valuable employee and can be encouraged to develop communications and delegation skills.

  • Performing at or above expectations
  • Has not outgrown his/her current job and has growth opportunities within his/her role
  • Seasoned professional with technical skills who does not currently exhibit capacity/desire for continued leadership development
  • Understands organisational mission, values, and core competencies are important but is still inconsistent in demonstration of behaviours and integrity at work.

Action : Retain ,reward and train him for future . Reconsider – Not ready now – may be in future.



Current role may still provide opportunity for growth/development; focused on tactical; focus should be on helping improve strategic thinking.


  • Fails to meet most performance standards or is too new.
  • Has not been in position adequately to demonstrate his/her abilities.
  • May have lost pace with the changes in the organisation.
  • Demonstrates understanding of the work .

Action : Weak performer, may improve, enrol in Management Development Programs (MDP)



May be considered for job enlargement at the same level, but may need coaching in several areas, including people management.


  • Currently is meeting expectations; Solid, consistent.
  • May lack demonstrated strategic thinking or relationship skills.
  • Minimally expresses interest in expanded opportunities.
  • Demonstrates behaviours associated with organisational values and competencies.
  • May need additional time in current role.

Action : Potential to move in for senior leadership role. needs to work on few development areas.



With coaching, could progress within level; focus on stretch goals for this employee.


  • Performs above expectations; however, it is not certain about his/her capability to handle increased scope and complexity
  • Demonstrates capability to take on more work or additional projects; willingly accepts new assignments of increasing difficulty level.
  • Seeks opportunities to improve both self and organisation
  • Understands organisational mission, values, and core competencies through demonstrates through behaviour; seeks to integrate them into work.

Action : Challenge, reward, grow and motivate.



Seasoned professional capable of expanded role, but may be experiencing problems that require coaching and mentoring.


  • Fails to meet performance standards in his/her current role.
  • Could be more successful in the current role with more direction.
  • May be more appropriate in another role or division that suits his/her skill set.
  • Has demonstrated leadership traits inconsistently or in any other assignment.

Action : Intervene, reassign – may be in a wrong job or wrong department



Does extremely well at current job with potential to do more; give stretch assignments to help prepare for next level.


  • A solid performer, meets expectations.
  • Proactive , valued contributor to the team.
  • Demonstrates capacity for advancement.
  • Frequently demonstrates behaviours associated with organisational values and core competencies.
  • Frequently seeks out new tasks, projects and other growth opportunities

Action : Challenge, reward, recognise and develop.



Big picture thinker; problem solver; self motivated


  • Developing faster than the demands of his/her current position and/or division.
  • Ready to broaden his/her skill set and take on significantly greater scope and responsibility.
  • Consistently performs above and beyond the current scope of his/her job; excels when given additional assignments.
  • Consistently integrates behaviours associated with organisational values.
  • Demonstrates behaviours associated with core competencies
  • Consistently seeks new opportunities for learning, leadership development, and advanced experience
  • Independently explores solutions to problems and makes recommendations for improvement toward organisational excellence
  • Demonstrates systems thinking and agency impact
  • Places organisational ’s success above personal achievement.

Action : Reward, recognise and promote

Green boxes  (B1, A1, A2 )

  • People in these boxes are considered to be the organisation’s future bench strength.
  • They are more likely to get bigger raises and more recognition as companies work harder to retain them.
  • Most companies allocate a significantly higher percentage of their training and development budgets to this group.

Orange boxes (C3,B3,A3)

  • Steady or high performers in their current roles, but not considered likely to contribute more in the future.
  • Potential of being future leaders despite their current struggles to perform.
  • People in these boxes often feel like they are in a holding pattern.
  • They find difficult to understand why they aren’t considered for development opportunities and don’t receive higher raises or more recognition.

Red boxes (B3,C3,C2).

  • Not showing high performance or high potential.
  • They may feel they are not given the time or support needed to overcome challenges they are experiencing.
  • They are not in the front lines, when it comes to recognition, opportunities and pay hikes.

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Further reading

Corporate Quotes

Corporate Quotes

“If you are the employer turn blind sometimes and if you are an employee turn deaf sometimes.”

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