Skills Matrix

This description of a skills matrix can help you understand how valuable it can be for a company, in terms of knowing what skills and competencies employees have and how that might affect company sustainability.

After reading this article you will have ideas on how to use the skill matrix to identify available skills and find potential skill gaps. This might help you improve your employee learning and development and allow you to create better teams.

Discover:

What is a skills matrix?

A skills matrix is a framework used to map employees' skills and their levels. It's a grid that contains information about available skill and their evaluation.

It is used to manage, plan, and monitor existing and desired skills for a role, team, department, project, or an entire company.

Sometimes a skills matrix is also called a competency matrix. We will cover the difference down below but in general, they’re the same thing.

A simple table with employees’ names and their skills might be called a skill matrix.

Example of a skills matrix

As we mentioned before the simplest skill matrix is a table with employees names and their skills or competencies with their evaluation.

Team member Communication Campaign management Content marketing Webinar management Social media marketing Design skills
John 8/10 7/10 9/10 7/10 3/10 2/10
Elizabeth 4/10 5/10 7/10 6/10 8/10 3/10
Robert 6/10 9/10 5/10 8/10 5/10 7/10
Victoria 8/10 9/10 7/10 9/10 7/10 6/10
Edward 7/10 4/10 4/10 3/10 4/10 8/10
Anne 7/10 4/10 6/10 7/10 9/10 3/10

Even a simple matrix can allow you to discover any missing skills that are needed or determine who needs some training.

Why is a skills matrix important?

Skills matrices are essential tools for any company that is driven by data, particularly for the HR department and project management team leaders.

matrices are ideal for keeping track of your staff’s skills, qualifications, certifications, and competencies throughout the whole organization. When used correctly, they work really well in practice and improve efficiencies within teams, as well as increasing your bottom line.

A skill matrix is important because when it is set up well it can help you organize your teams easily, identifying any skill sets that you need based on the project requirements. With a good skill matrix, your project is completed efficiently and by the most qualified and skilled team members.

It is also helpful to the HR department, in that if they need to hire extra staff, they will know what skills to advertise for. At the same time, it can be used to schedule vacation periods for employees, making sure to have enough people with needed skills on site.

What is the difference between a skills matrix and a competency matrix?

The concept behind them is totally the same. The only difference in usage and level.

A skills matrix, as we mentioned, mostly contains employees’ skills evaluation, but this is a small part of the knowledge that they have.

A competency matrix includes knowledge, skills, and attitudes, so it should even encompass a skill matrix within.

A competency matrix is mainly created and used by management to understand available knowledge in the company, identify gaps, and plan accordingly.

Benefits of creating a Skills Matrix

1. Identifying the right people

A skills matrix allows you to select the right people for the job, task, or project.

It will help managers to form better and more productive teams and fill positions with the employees who are the best fit for that role.

2. Identify missing competencies

Skills matrices help to determine what skill set you are missing, whether within a team, department, or the company as a whole.

If your staff lacks certain knowledge or competencies that are necessary for the business and your competitors possess them,  then your company is at a huge disadvantage.

Also, when you know what skill set you need to start a new project, campaign, or business, it is easier to plan for it, meet deadlines, and achieve successful results.

For team members, a competency matrix can give insight into the strengths of the team as a whole and also show the areas where they are lacking skills and expertise.

3. Identify the gap between employees, teams, and departments

"A chain is only as strong as its weakest link"
- Thomas Reid, “Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man,” 1786

Knowing where you are lacking the skills can save time and money for your business.

A skills matrix can help you identify employees with knowledge or skill gaps, and provide the needed training, as you rotate employees between crucial projects or teams.

4. Track employee development

Skills matrices give the L&D department information that they can use to determine what training is needed for employees. By using the skills matrix, they can identify training opportunities.

It also helps employees to understand what their gaps are, so they can take action to gain the skill set they need to excel in their position.

Also, the skill matrix can be used as a template in an employee’s career planning and development. Knowing what skills you need for the next level or promotion helps to create a learning path.

5. Help HR to find the right candidate

If someone leaves your organization, it is easier to understand what skill set you lost and who you need to hire when you are using a skills matrix.

It speeds up the hiring process and helps the HR department to hire staff with needed skills, making it more efficient, and providing a better end result.

Also, it can be used for the future planning of new hires.

6. Track your key staff members

With a competency matrix, it is easy to find the employees who have the highest value skill set in your organization, as well as to track the development of key people. These are valuable employees, and it is good to know exactly who they are and are they satisfied.

Also, it can be used for Identifying staff for promotion and recognition.

How to create a Skill Matrix

1. Create a skill database

Skill database is the list of skills required for the role, department, or project.

At this stage, you need to define required skills by gathering and grouping them into different categories and even subcategories, e.g.:

  • Communication
  • Management
  • Technical skills
  • Technologies
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Data analysis
  • Graphic design
  • Marketing, etc.

Be as specific as possible when determining what skills are needed, and remember that soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and reliability are just as important as the hard skill sets such as knowing the technology or techniques.

We recommend starting with the most essential skills in the beginning. They should be related to the role or business in general. Although, keep in mind that the more data you have, the better decisions you can make.

One good way to create a specific skill set for a role is to ask more experienced employees about it. For example, you can consult highly skilled employees or department heads and ask them to write a list of skills required for different levels: beginner, senior, intermediate, and advanced. This will help you save time and will highlight specific skills you might not have considered.

One way to automate this is to use a learning platform with such functionality. At Valamis we created a competencies matrix with vast editorial capabilities.

Competences administration panel in Valamis LXP

It makes it easier to create and maintain multiple categories and subcategories, edit, and delete skills. Moreover, you can assign numbers to each category to prioritize them according to your needs.

However, you can use Google or Excel spreadsheets; they will also do the job.

2. Create a grading system

A grading system is used for ranking the competence or skill level of users.

When you have a list of skills you need to define how you will grade them. For example, for the IT industry, Junior, Middle, or Senior could be levels of competence.

Consider that for different businesses and industries grading systems might be different, as well as for different roles and departments. You need to determine what works best for your organization.

For example at Valamis we are using the following grading system:

  • Awareness - a person has a basic knowledge and understanding of the topic but hasn’t yet applied the skill at work.
  • Novice - a person has applied the skill, but might still need support.
  • Professional - a person has experience of utilizing the skill and can work independently. Solves problems proactively. Can guide and support more junior people performing related tasks.
  • Expert - a person has a lot of experience in applying the skill in practice. Can communicate with customers about the topic and can coach others. Follows the trends of the field and shares knowledge with colleagues. Might have an official certification in the skill.
  • Leading-edge expert - a person understands the bigger picture. Can discuss details with the client and advise the clients. Shares knowledge proactively, by, e.g., writing blogs or presenting at conferences or in Dev days. Follows the field and keeps the skill up to date.

Depending on the company size and diversity of the business, you might consider having several grading systems for different areas or departments.

3. Evaluate your employees’ skills

To do so you can use several techniques; each has its own pros and cons. We tried to order them based on speed and accuracy.

  • Self-evaluation - an employee grades each skill personally.
  • Manager evaluation - manager grades employees’ skills.
  • Team or client evaluation - you can collect team or client feedback and use it to evaluate employees’ skills.
  • Skills assessment - employees need to complete the tests or quizzes to determine their skills level.
  • Certification - a fast and accurate method to evaluate specific skills, but not all employees have it nor can all skills be certified.

For a fast result, we recommend that you start with self-evaluation and certificates. Offer your employees the opportunity to assess their own skills based on the grading system and add their certificates.

If you need a more accurate evaluation, use skills assessment, or several methods at once.

Tip: add options for employees to select their favorite skills or skills that they would like to improve.

skill matrix with employee skills and their levels

4. Visualize data and reveal insights

Even though this part can be optional, we strongly recommend visualizing the data.

This will help you discover quite insightful information right away.

Here are some ideas:

1. Calculate the sum of Skill Weights

Skill weight is numeric value for each skill level (e.g. novice - 1, professional - 2, expert - 3, leading-edge expert - 4).

When you have this parameter calculated for each employee, you can determine the most skilled people in the department or for the role, identify people who might need training or might be promoted, and gain many other insights.

On the screenshot, we filtered the software development team so you can straight away determine different groups of employees: team leads (most skilled group on the top right corner), medium and senior developers in the middle, and several junior developers in the left bottom corner.

Graph displays employees' skills comparison in department

You can do the same for a specific skill or skill set, to find the perfect candidate for a role and form a team.

2. Define a potent skill loss threat

Such visualization is really valuable for determining skills that might be lost if employees leave the company. Usually, such a case happens when you have 1 or only a few employees with this skill. This is especially crucial if this skill is important for the department.

In this example, you can see that video and audio production skills, as well as media relations, are in a tight spot. Those skills are quite important for marketing, so losing people with this knowledge will require some time to recover. It would, therefore, be good to train more employees in these areas to handle it and be prepared for any potential departures.

Graph displays departments' average skills weight

Skills Matrix Template

We prepared a simple skills matrix template that can help you start building your own skill matrix. You can use it as it is, or build your own based on the example. Make a copy and experiment with it.

Download skills matrix template.

simple skills matrix table