Setting Up Succession Planning

What is Succession Planning?

Succession planning is a performance management tool that evaluates your talent pool by placing them into a nine-box matrix based on performance (how well they are performing today) and potential (how well they are likely to perform in the future - their growth potential).  This tool is often called "9-box" because it consists of - you guessed it - nine boxes!

The beauty of the 9-box system is that as leaders work to evaluate the people on their teams, it prompts them to move beyond an overly simplified, quantified rating by digging deeper and asking, “Why?” It offers organizations significant benefits, such as: 

  • Simple and easy to use – A nine-box grid model is an established tool with a relatively straightforward structure. All you need to do is match them to the correct box based on their performance and potential during your employee review. The way the grid is visualized makes it easy to catch on, even for those utterly new to this tool.  
  • Identifies valuable talent – The nine-box grid allows you to spot great potential high performers in your organization and identify what they need to improve to develop further. You’ll have the data to back up your decision of where and how to direct resources to engage and develop these employees. Additionally, when internal promotions arise, you’ll know exactly to whom to offer these opportunities.
  • A holistic approach to talent appraisal – This tool provides a more well-rounded approach to performance management. You won’t get sucked into a single element of an employee’s performance, and you will be able to assess both current performance and future potential. 
  • A versatile tool – The 9-box talent grid benefits talent management and workforce planning. For example, this tool gives you a good overview of the potential of your employees and in which position they might thrive in the future. In other words, it makes succession planning more accessible. Or you can also use the nine-box grid to identify employees with leadership potential and move them onto management tracks.

By using the 9-box method, managers naturally gravitate toward tough conversations about how to nurture their employees better. This is something that managers can easily neglect. And that process uncovers talent gaps, earmarks untapped top talent, and recognizes needs for leadership development. 

Scroll down to learn how to implement succession planning in your Perform account, or check out the additional resources below:

Succession Planning in Perform

Succession planning pairs what Perform does best - performance management - with your manager’s inherent knowledge, skill, and ability to identify potential.  It then presents the information in a readable and actionable format.

What does Perform's 9-box grid look like?

The higher up and to the right, the better the performance and potential — and the more the employee exceeds their managers’ expectations. The lower down and to the left, the more the employee needs skills development or is a poor fit for their role.

Potential Vs. Performance

Succession planning plots your employees on the grid based on their potential and performance.

  • Potential refers to the ability to take up broader & more challenging responsibilities and roles in the future.  It is indicative of an individual’s ability to develop the competencies required for success in future roles.
  • Performance is the level of success an employee is currently achieving.  It is indicative of the competencies they currently possess.
  • Potential is a future success.  Performance is past & present success.
  • Potential can include elements of a performance. Performance doesn’t guarantee potential.

Where does the 9-Box data come from?

Performance is based on the competencies from the review - the potential is rated by the manager during the review process and  not shared with the employee.

Here is an example of a Potential section of a review.  You can see that these will not be visible to the employee.  The competencies displayed here are our defaults and the suggested best practices for potential: ability, aspiration, & engagement. Choosing from the rating scale allows for ease of reporting.  You can further customize your forms if you'd like.

The potential section does not affect the employee's overall review score, as it carries no weight - it is only used to guide the potential axis in the 9-box report.

Viewing the 9-Box Report

As an administrator, click into Reports > 9-Box Grid from the left navigation bar.

You can further filter the report and adjust where the Potential score is being pulled from if you've created multiple forms in your account.  The Performance score will always be the overall employee review score.

Here is what the report will look like.  You can view additional details by clicking on See all x employees in any box.

This pop-up will display the box's title and description and list all employees with their scores, position, and archive date.

Pro Tip: You can adjust the threshold for the scores if you do not see enough disparity within the boxes via the potential and performance drop-down menu.  Click Advanced Options from the top of the screen, then adjust the axis numbers to your liking.  Remember to click Save when you're done!

Sharing 9-Box

You can export the 9-Box report to a CSV or PDF.

The PDF will display the actual 9-Box grid and a full breakdown of the boxes with each employee and their scores listed.

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