What Is a Skills Matrix and How to Create One? (+ Free Excel Templates)
tiempo de lectura
April 18, 2023
Time to read:
How does targeted people development work without a thorough understanding of everyone's individual strengths and opportunities?
A skills matrix is the visualization of these and your best friend when it comes to
1) Strategic people development based on facts, not feelings
2) Impressing your C-level because it is such a powerful view
In short, it will help you to make better decisions about employee development, succession planning, and role design.
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 is also the baseline for any further people development activity.
❓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. It helps identify the comprehensive skill set, experience level, and general competence required for a position or a project.
In practice, it can be as simple as a two-dimensional table in Excel.
Dimension 1: People or departments (below: rows)
Dimension 2: Skills (below: columns)
Companies who want to do skill assessment at scale and more effectively can also use a software to save time and tie competencies directly together with development methods.
📈 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.
People know what is expected from them in their role
People know where they stand
People can be developed to close the gap between these two with appropriate measures
a reduction in training costs
a reduction in time wasted from irrelevant training
an increase in the effects of training and, subsequently, more performance
Setting up training that aligns with an employee's strengths and interests can alsobenefit 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.
Helps employees identify their strengths and weaknesses
Obviously, you don't HAVE to disclose assessment results to every individual, but it does have its benefits:
When employees know their skills and strengths is a means of getting to know oneself better.
This newly-gained self-awareness can be more efficient and effective.
A skills matrix can be a valuable tool for team building. By understanding the skills of team members, people can be more proactive and collaborate more efficiently.
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 colleagues with relevant skills.
When skills are mapped out, it becomes easier for employees to move across departments or projects seamlessly.
📝 How to create a skills matrix for your employees
1. Identify the skills to evaluate
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.
Some companies like to keep it casual with one generic model for all, while others have details progression paths for every single role and level.
Looking for an example?
A generic model will faciliate company-wide comparisons on particular skills later on. Highly specified models that are unique for every role are great, but will lack core competencies you may want to see for everybody.
Our tip: A mix of the above elements. Keep some competencies that are the same for everybody in the organization and include a few that are more technical.
2. Assess 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:
If you're looking for the right way to create the single levels, our free competency matrix will be just what you need:
We usually recommend 5 levels, ranging from basic to expert.
2.5 Don't forget calibration
Feedback bias is real. And every team/person will naturally have a certain tendency to rate people better or worse.
But, this feedback has implications. And subjective bias is hugely unfair.
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.
Create a table or matrix with the skills listed in the first column and name it "Skills."
Write down the team members' names horizontally in the column "Name."
Create the columns "Expertise" and "Interest" under Name.
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.
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 Matrices
Example 1 - Basic skill matrix for smaller teams
Here is an example of a skills matrix that combines expertise AND interest, Something you may want to do - but also something that can make things way more complex at scale.
These numbers represent:
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.
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:
You can download both these templates as a spreadsheet to modify here.
To help you with the career framework, we also created a competency matrix to compliment the skills matrix.
💪 200+ Performance behavioral indicators and metrics: Give your team members a clear understanding of what it takes to advance in their careers
🔨 100+ suggested developmental activities: So you can develop the competencies of your people with clear, actionable steps for both managers and employees to follow.
🙅 Mistakes to avoid
If you create your matrix improperly, it can make your hiring process more difficult and ineffective. Here are some common mistakes to avoid while creating a skills matrix.
Do not create a skills matrix without first assessing the skills required for a successful project or role, which will ensure that your approach is complete - taking in both employee and company perspectives
Do not forget to include skills essential for success in each role.
Do not forget to map skills to team members and roles accordingly. This will ensure the accuracy of the skills matrix.
Do not forget calibration. You will want to fill your matrix with valid data, not unfair guesstimations.
Don't stop after creation. Your matrix is just the start. Now it's time to put the new insights into action and improve L&D forever.
🛠 How skills matrix software helps
While our above template and instructions are surely helpful, doing this well in practice takes a lot of time.
Getting input from all stakeholders and teams
Making sure said data is valid and fair
Hoping not to mess anything up in Excel
Keeping the matrix up-to-date
That's how our tool makes your life easier than ever:
Get valid, unbiased data via 360 feedback
Automatically engage all stakeholders - no need to remind anyone
Calibrate your data
Display it as a heatmap to get your skills matrix view
Automatically keep it up-to-date along with your regular feedback cycles (performance etc.)
The best part?
It doesn't end with a matrix. Further analytics like 9 box grids are just a click away, too!
Assessing skills is only part one. Our tool helps your people develop the right skills and find the right training programs.
What is the difference between a skills matrix and a competency matrix?
A skills matrix and a competency matrix are similar in that they both aim to provide a structured overview of an organization's skills and competencies.
However, the difference is really in the perspective:
A skills matrix focuses on specific skills or tasks that an employee has
...while a competency matrix focuses on the competencies or abilities required for a role.
In a way, the former is about the present state from an employee - while the latter defines the idea skillset of a person in a certain role.
How do skill matrices and competency models go together?
Skill matrices and competency models complement each other.
While a skills matrix provides a detailed breakdown of the specific skills required for a role, a competency model provides a more holistic view of the broader competencies and abilities needed to succeed in that role. By using both, you can create a more comprehensive understanding of what it takes to excel in a given position.
What is a skills matrix for hiring?
A skills matrix for hiring is a tool that can be used to assess the skills and qualifications of job candidates. By creating a matrix that outlines the specific skills and tasks required for a particular role, you can compare each candidate's experience and abilities to determine who is the best fit for the job.
What's the next step after having a skills matrix?
The next step is to use it to inform decision-making. This might mean using the matrix to identify gaps in your team's skill set and creating development plans to address those gaps. Alternatively, you might use the matrix to assess job candidates or to determine which team members are best suited to work on a particular project.
How does skills matrix software help?
Skills matrix software can help streamline the process of creating and maintaining a skills matrix. By using software to automate the process, you can save time and reduce the risk of errors. Additionally, many skills matrix software solutions offer advanced reporting and analytics features that can help you gain insights into your team's skills and identify areas for improvement.
Ayush is a software engineer turned content writer and likes helping SaaS companies with top-notch content marketing. His four years in tech consulting empower him to quickly understand a company's goals and software products. Ayush likes reading anything that intrigues him - from workplace culture and marketing to personal development.