Google ‘skill matrix’ or ‘skills matrix’ and you’ll be amazed at just how much information is available on this subject. Besides definitions of the term, you’ll also find tonnes of great ‘home grown’ resources, intricately and painstakingly incorporated into Excel spreadsheets. All well and good, but how should you create the right skills matrix or matrices for your team, department, or organization?
Let’s first answer the question, “What exactly is a skills matrix?”
“A skills matrix is a powerful, visual tool to help you manage and monitor staff proficiency levels.”
It visualizes the skills required to perform a certain task or activity, as well as their actual and required proficiency levels. It can also help with day to day planning based on operational strengths. Do I have sufficient staff with the right skills to carry out the work at hand? Do I have the right mix of proficiency levels in my team?
Various types of matrix exist depending on who owns the matrix, e.g. matrices for teams, departments, sites and managers.
I believe there are five basic, yet crucial questions that every organization and employer needs to ask themselves before implementing skills matrices.
The Five Basic, Yet Crucial Questions
- What ‘qualifications’ do my staff need? (Required)
- What ‘qualifications’ do my staff already have? (Actual)
- Are my staff sufficiently ‘qualified’? (Skill Gap)
- If a gap exists, how and where can we acquire and develop missing ‘qualifications’?
- How and where can ‘qualifications’ be formally demonstrated?
The answers to these questions clarify your organization’s basic requirements for managing its skills. It’s with good reason that we refer to these questions as being ‘basic’. You could also call them a requirements inventory. This inventory also serves as a springboard for formulating your competence management policies. The larger your organization and the more inextricably intertwined your jobs, tasks, departments, sites, etc., the greater the need for well structured policies.
As often as not, there are also numerous sector or company specific factors that affect how you’ll structure your skills management policies and what type of skills matrix is the right match. Examples include:
- industry specific qualifications
- scope – managing skills for 1,000 employees is not the same as doing this for 10 employees
- complexity – no. of jobs, tasks, skills, etc.
- structure – organizational and geographic
- responsibility – organizational or personal
Once you’ve clarified any company or sector specific factors for yourself, you’re in a position to lay the foundation for your skills management policies, armed with the answers to our five questions.
In our white paper titled ‘The Numerous Benefits of Skills Matrices’, we examined how to implement skills matrices in a larger and more complex organization as part of its skills management policies. If you’ve read this paper, then you’re certainly not under any illusions about the challenges that face larger organizations attempting to manage their skills. Nonetheless, using the right approach and methods, companies have the means and opportunity to work more efficiently, and to motivate and encourage their staff to acquire and develop new skills.
Seeing the Forest for the Trees
In conclusion, I’d like to add one point. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by all the jargon and slogan mongering that you’ll undoubtedly encounter. Especially when you start drafting and formulating your skills management policies. You’ll uncover a whole plethora of terms such as competences/competencies, qualification profiles, core tasks, accreditation points, etc. They’re just labels or tools. Nor do I want to trivialize matters.
In short, start at the beginning and take one step at a time. In essence, it’s about the skills someone requires to be able do their job. He or she may need training to acquire or develop these skills. Training programs and the ability to demonstrate newly acquired skills provide evidence of proficiency. Thereafter, you’ll be looking to maintain or raise proficiency levels still further. In effect, you’ve now come full circle.
Looking at it in this light makes things seem far simpler, right? And the skills matrices? You’ll get there too.
We’re curious to know your views on this topic and welcome the opportunity to discuss these further. Please leave a comment below.
Download our free white paper titled The Numerous Benefits of Skills Matrices in which we examined how to implement skills matrices in organizations as part of its skills management policies.