What Is A Skills Matrix And How to Create It? (+ Free Excel Templates)

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Last updated:
January 12, 2022
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10 minutes
Learn how to create a powerful skill matrix for data-driven insights on your organization and to plan your L&D strategy.

Just like upgrading or improving software or an app, human beings need to keep adapting to the latest developments and changes in the industry.

When you are an HR or a Learning & Development (L&D) manager, you have to design a customized training program for each employee working in your company. But the way most companies do it isn't always most efficient.

It is common for the HR teams working for small-scale or medium-scale businesses to manually analyze employees' skills and interests. They repeatedly follow up with each worker to devise a relevant learning plan.

Such tasks can be daunting because every employee has their own needs and learning styles. L&D professionals might even face resistance if the training isn't relevant to the employee's role or aligns with their aspirations.

The HR teams are also making every effort to ensure employee well-being seeing the alarming statistics on employee burnout because of the pandemic. As per CNBC, HR professionals are burned out too due to the volume of work.

The HR processes have seen a massive change because of the pandemic. Everything has gone virtual from recruitment, onboarding, staffing to employee retention and performance evaluation.

While the HR team makes every effort to take care of everyone else within the company, they often feel underappreciated.

Right processes, strategies, and tools can empower HR and L&D managers to work more efficiently, reduce their workload, and leave a mark.

The skills matrix is one such tool to streamline employee performance evaluation and make learning and development more effective.

It can be challenging to determine which projects have vacancies and specific skills needed for those positions. Additionally, it's often hard to decide how competencies map to individual roles.

A well-managed skills matrix can give your HR department a competitive edge by making it easier to identify and fill high-priority positions quickly. It can also help you gauge the effectiveness of your training programs by measuring how closely competencies map to actual job performance. 

By taking the time to create and manage a skill matrix, you'll be able to make better decisions about employee development, succession planning, and role design.

This article will explain what an employee skills matrix is and how it can make your life easier by saving time, effort and gaining a competitive advantage.

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What is a skills matrix?

A skills matrix, typically developed by the hiring team and human resources, is a tool used to assess an employee's skills and abilities for a particular role or project.

It helps identify the comprehensive skill set, experience level, and general competence required for a position or a project. Skills matrix can be as simple as a two-dimensional table in Excel or represented pictorially using Harvey Balls or other visual formats. 

Companies who want to do skill assessment at scale and more effectively can also use a software platform for evaluating their workforce.

A well-designed skills matrix is valuable for a company as it can help HR managers and L&D professionals design customized training programs for each employee. It can also reduce overhead costs and enhance overall employee satisfaction.

Why does your company need a skills matrix?

Employee Learning & Development (L&D) is one of the most important activities performed by HR managers and L&D professionals. Evaluating employee performance and training them on relevant skills can give businesses a competitive advantage, increase profits, and improve retention.

As per the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report 2019, 94% of employees said they would stay longer if employers invested in their learning and development. The dynamics of hiring, firing, and work have changed massively since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

A Statista report shows that 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September. Businesses need to be more agile than ever before to remain competitive and retain employees when a record number of people quit their jobs.

The 2021 version of the LinkedIn Report found that top L&D professionals agree that reskilling & upskilling is a top priority for them.

However, it's not always easy for HR managers and business owners to determine what skills are needed to prepare their workforce for future projects and challenges. A skills matrix can make things easier here.

The matrix helps HR managers by providing a visual overview of employee skills. They can use it to identify skills gaps, assign employees to appropriate projects, and develop training programs.

Let's talk more about how a skills matrix can help your organization.

Benefits of using a skills matrix

Assessing each employee's skills and competencies can become tedious for HR. A skills matrix allows them to quickly and easily identify skills gaps and determine the best way to fill them. It also makes it easy to assign employees to appropriate projects based on their abilities.

Helps to assess the skills of your employees effectively

Skills matrix makes it easy to identify your employees' skills. You can also see the gaps in their skills and make the necessary arrangements to fill those gaps. 

It empowers HR managers to design customized training programs or arrange on-the-job training. Skills Matrix also saves time, effort and enhances overall employee satisfaction.

It lets you gather information quickly and easily, reducing overhead costs. HR managers or L&D professionals don't need to follow up with each worker every few months to check skills gaps if they have used a skills matrix.

Gives organizations a competitive edge

Skills matrix makes it effortless to identify the required skills for a particular project or role. 

You can then make the necessary arrangements to fill those skills gaps before your competition does. Doing this can give your company a competitive advantage because you are ready with the required skills to execute projects flawlessly.

The skills matrix also helps attract top-notch professionals to a company. Job aspirants know that they will have access to relevant skills training and career growth opportunities if they join your firm. 

Helps to create customized and effective learning plans for employees

A skills matrix can be a precious tool for HR managers and L&D professionals. When multiple skills are crucial for an organization's success, they must be identified and mapped with competent employees. 

The skills matrix makes it simple to identify the employees who need the training to develop specific skills. You can then design effective learning plans to help employees quickly improve their skills. Implementing this practice can lead to a reduction in training costs.

Setting up training that aligns with an employee's strengths and interests can benefit the organization because happy employees are more productive. They give their best when they enjoy what they do. It can also help them receive recognition for skills they already possess, enhancing their self-esteem and engagement levels.

Tracks skills across different departments

The skills and interests of employees change as they move from one job to another or switch departments. Jobs that might have been relevant in the past might not be relevant now, and skills that were not required before may become necessary for executing a particular project.

A regularly updated skills matrix helps track the skills and capabilities of employees across different departments within the company. 

The matrix will help decision-makers and staffing managers effectively assign projects for specific roles based on employees' abilities, aspirations, and competencies.

Having skills mapped out can save your organization time, money, and resources otherwise wasted on additional training.

Gives employees an overview of their responsibilities

When team members can see the skills required to complete a project successfully, they can direct their efforts based on the employer's expectations.

The right direction becomes crucial when different teams work on the same project. It also becomes easier for employees to identify skills gaps and bridge them. When they know the skills required for their role, they can attend relevant training and enhance their contribution to future projects.

A skills matrix can act as a valuable career planning tool as well. Employees can use it to assess their skills and interests and identify the areas they need to work on to succeed in their careers. 

Helps employees identify their strengths and weaknesses

Employees can use the skills matrix to identify their strengths and weaknesses. This information can help them choose projects and roles that align with their skills while simultaneously improving their weaknesses.

When employees know their skills and strengths, they can be more efficient and effective. They can focus on tasks that they are good at and delegate tasks that are not within their skillset or upskill themselves using relevant training.

A skills matrix can be a valuable tool for team building. By understanding the skills of team members, it becomes easier to identify areas that need collective improvement. This information can help team members collaborate better and work more effectively together.

Improves internal mobility within the organization

Internal mobility refers to the movement of employees within the organization. A skills matrix can enable companies to hire internal employees rather than looking for the right candidate outside the organization.

It can also help managers identify skills gaps within teams and fill them with other internal employees with relevant skills. When skills are mapped out, it becomes easier for employees to move across departments or projects seamlessly.

Not only does this take less time than looking for skills outside the organization, but it also takes less money. Decreasing the skills gap between employees and skills required for completing projects can reduce time to completion and costs associated with training.

5 steps to creating a skill matrix: Identify project competencies, individual competencies, establish employee interest, incorporate data, respond to results

How to create a skills matrix for your employees

1. Assess the skills required to complete a project successfully.

You can do this by looking at the skills needed for different roles within the team or department. Include skills that are essential to success, desirable but not necessary.

Note: Soft skills like communication, teamwork, emotional intelligence are as necessary as technical or core competencies.

For example, a software engineer working with a client needs to be good at teamwork, communication; not just technical skills like programming or data analysis.

Assess skills based on employees within the organization. Ask managers and team members for feedback about which skills they have and need to succeed in their role or project. Look at employees' resumes to get an idea of their skills.

2. Evaluate your employees' skills and interests

The methods employers use to evaluate their workforce's skills vary across organizations.

Some common ways to grade and categorize employees' skills are:

  • Manager's or immediate supervisors’ feedback.
  • Asking employees to self-declare their skills, interests, and proficiency level in each.
  • Graded assessments.
  • Certifications. 

As per Process Management International's (PMI) Director Consultant, Dennis, different competency levels for a skills matrix are

  • No training received (1).
  • Training completed (2).
  • Can work under supervision or coaching (3).
  • Can work without supervision (4).
  • Superusers: Can coach others for that skill or process (5).

Note: The number in parenthesis denotes each competency level, respectively.

Also, ask employees to convey their interest level in a particular skill as 1( interested) or 2( not interested).

It's always beneficial to have multiple stages of employee evaluation. For example, a marketing associate who self-declares his expertise and interests in Google Ads should only be tested for and assigned to projects that need a Google Ads expert. 

3. Add the data in a table or a matrix.

One of the most common ways to create a skills matrix is via Excel. Follow the below steps to create a skills matrix in an Excel document.

  1. Create a table or matrix with the skills listed in the first column and name it "Skills or Competency." 
  2. Write down the team members' names horizontally in the column "Name." 
  3. Create the columns "Expertise" and "Interest" under Name.
  4. Add the data on expertise and interest level collected earlier. 

Doing this will give you an overview of each employee's abilities. Sort the skills into categories based on their contribution to practical project completion. 

As Dennis from PMI rightly points out, the skills matrix can also be represented using ideograms for visual communication, for example, harvey balls

PMI Example for skills matrix

 4. Map employees with the right skills

Consider the skills needed for each role and map them to employees who have those skills. Employees with specific skills can also use this information to identify skills gaps and bridge those gaps.

Doing this will give you an overview of the skills proficiency of every employee. Sort the skills into categories based on their contribution to practical project completion. 

5. Use the skills matrix to identify training needs and allocate assignments. 

Create training and development programs that will help employees improve their skills. If there are skills that any employees do not currently hold, consider bringing in a trainer to deliver a workshop. 

This will help employees develop the skills to succeed in their roles and projects.

Templates and Examples: Sample Skills Matrix

Let's say Andrea, an L&D manager in the Marketing department of her company, wants to plan the training schedule of recently graduated students who have joined her company. 

After discussing marketing projects with managers, she identifies five crucial skills across different projects: Google Ads and Content Marketing. Data Analysis, SEO, and Communication. 

She asks the recent joiners to declare their proficiency in each skill. Andrea later takes a graded assessment to ascertain their claims. 

Example 1 - Basic skill matrix for smaller teams

Here is an example of a skills matrix: 

Example of a simple skills matrix

As stated earlier, these numbers represent: 

Number levels for skills matrices

Example 2 - Advanced skill matrix for organizations

If you're into data-driven insights, you will like this next template.

It is well-suited for bigger organizations that want to understand what skills they are good in - and what skills they should prioritize training.

Spreadsheet excel template skills matrix

To avoid overcomplexity, This second example currently does not contain "interests" - but you could surely add that to your table.

What's particularly helpful about this one is that it automatically composes a list of "bottom 3" skills - those that you should focus on improving:

Bottom 3 skills

You can download both these templates as a spreadsheet to modify here

Mistakes to avoid while creating a skills matrix

If you're in the process of creating a skills matrix for your organization, there are several mistakes to avoid. A skills matrix is an essential component of any recruitment strategy, and it helps you identify the skill sets you need and the people who possess them. However, if you create it improperly, it can make your hiring process more difficult and ineffective. Here are some common mistakes to avoid while creating a skills matrix.

  1. Do not create a skills matrix without first assessing the skills required for a successful project, which will ensure that your approach is complete - taking in both employee and company perspectives
  2. Do not forget to include skills essential for success in each role.
  3. Do not forget to map skills to team members and roles accordingly. This will ensure the accuracy of the skills matrix.
  4. Do not underestimate the benefits of creating a skills matrix for your employees. From finding internal employees who can fill skills gaps to identifying skills training needs, skills matrices can help you recruit and retain the right talent for your organization.

Creating a skills matrix for your organization can be beneficial in many ways. You can ensure that your skills matrix is accurate and relevant by avoiding these common mistakes. It will be effective in helping you recruit and retain the right talent for your organization.


A skills matrix is a record that indicates which employees have the necessary competencies to complete specific tasks. Employers can use it for performance reviews, talent management, and organizational planning purposes.

Creating an accurate skills matrix for your company ensures you are placing people in positions where they will succeed while also highlighting what leadership needs to improve upon when it comes time for promotion decisions or deciding who should fill open roles. 

The benefits of using a skills matrix include increased productivity, better customer service because each person has been matched with their appropriate skill set, less turnover due to mismatched jobs-to-personality matches, and improved employee engagement scores.

Once your skill matrix is up and running, it's time to follow up with actual plans. Read all about development plans on our blog or learn how to bring your employee to the next level with our development tool here.


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