Organizations strive to maximize their workforce’s potential. One way of managing the skillset growth is through developing a skills-based workforce, and that’s when a well-designed skill matrix may come in handy. The employee skills matrix, also known as the competency matrix, is a comprehensive framework that allows organizations to assess, document, and track employee skills and competencies. We have decided to explore this subject, discuss the benefits of using the tool and provide examples of its implementation. Let’s examine the subject and learn how a skill matrix contributes to a well-prospering company and what to focus on when creating one for your business.  

What is a skills matrix? A handful of facts and benefits 

A competency matrix is a visual representation that maps out the skills employees acquired and their proficiency levels. The matrix typically uses a grid or table format, with job positions listed on one side and skills on the other; however, the actual framework differs depending on the company’s area of skill focus. Thanks to the tool, organizations can manage their human resources more effectively, foster an employee-friendly development environment, and align individual skills with organizational objectives. A skills matrix supports informed decision-making, improving performance and productivity, and increasing motivation. 

The purposes of implementing a competency matrix are many. Most of all, thanks to the tool, a company can easily identify skill gaps and determine whether additional training is needed. By contrast, the matrix enables the recognition of the individuals representing above-average expertise in a specific area. Thanks to efficient skills mapping, allocating human resources more effectively is way easier. A skills matrix is closely linked with employee evaluations, providing objective information on employee competencies by setting their performance against specific skill requirements. Clear expectations and transparent communication within the skills and features required by the organization help maintain transparent communication and employee motivation, followed by improved retention levels. 

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The benefits of the employee skills matrix are multiple. It empowers organizations to gain a comprehensive overview of their workforce’s capabilities, providing insights essential for informed decision-making and strategic planning. The matrix constitutes a foundation for effective talent management, resource allocation, and employee development initiatives. Most significant benefits cover: 

  • Talent management and succession planning: It provides organizations with a clear understanding of their employee’s skills and capabilities. Identifying high-potential employees becomes easier, ensuring a smooth transition of key roles. Additionally, the competencies matrix helps identify skill gaps, enabling targeted training and development programs.
  • Enhanced workforce planning: Skills Matrix provides organizations with insights into the collective skill set of their workforce. This information aids in strategic decision-making, such as resource allocation, project assignments, and recruitment. Thanks to the tool, people with suitable skills are assigned the appropriate roles.
  • Increased employee engagement and satisfaction: Transparent communication between management and the employees regarding skill and career development fosters a positive work environment. Employees feel motivated to improve their competencies, which results in increased productivity and satisfaction.
  • Improved training and development: Organizations can tailor training programs by understanding employees’ skills to address specific competency gaps and enhance employee proficiency. This targeted approach ensures the efficient allocation of resources and equips employees with the necessary skills to excel in their roles.

The process of skills mapping

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is the case with skills mapping and assessment. In fact, it is a systematic process that involves identifying and evaluating the skills and competencies of employees within an organization. You will need to create a comprehensive list of the required skills relevant to your organization’s goals and activities. The compiled data is used to create a skills matrix, visually representing the distribution of skills across the workforce. Once done, the competencies matrix requires regular updates to ensure it remains a valuable tool in managing talent and fostering professional development throughout the organization. The process consists of several phases essential for proper identification and further evaluation of employee skills; let’s look into them. 

Skills identification

Organizations identify skills and competencies by conducting employee self-assessment and manager assessment processes. When self-assessing, employees are given the opportunity to reflect on their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses and rate their proficiency within the skills based on predefined criteria or competency levels. Meanwhile, manager assessment involves supervisors evaluating their employees’ skills through performance observations, feedback, and appraisals. Such assessments may also include insights from peers and colleagues. By consolidating self-assessment and manager assessment data, organizations gain a more comprehensive and well-rounded view of employees’ skill sets while facilitating more effective talent management, tailored training programs, and informed decision-making regarding training, resource allocation, and succession planning. 

Skill gap analysis

The skill matrix does not only identify the skill scope, but it also plays a vital role in diagnosing skill gaps. By comparing the competencies that meet the organizational objectives with the ones already obtained by the employees, the skill matrix provides insights into the knowledge gaps with a visual representation of the actual employees’ skills and proficiency levels. These gaps become evident when the matrix highlights areas where the required skills are absent or insufficiently developed. By pinpointing the areas for improvement, organizations can take proactive measures to address the deficiencies, for example, by providing targeted training, employing new talent, or restructuring teams to ensure that the desired skills are available to effectively meet current and future challenges. 

Skill matrix template

To streamline the process of assessing and managing employee competencies, it is best to develop an organization’s matched framework template. The skill matrix template typically includes a job description followed by essential competencies. The proficiency level of each skill or competency within the matrix can be measured via a rating scale or predefined categories. A customized approach is necessary to obtain a skill matrix tailored to the specific organization’s needs. It can be achieved thanks to prior identification of core skills required to achieve the company’s strategic goals. The custom approach to the framework involves determining the proficiency levels and criteria per each competency, which can be done with a grading scale or through descriptive categorization. Ultimately, the key to an effective skill matrix is its adjustability to evolving needs, enabling the organization to optimize the framework. 

Skill matrix deployment

Integrating the skill matrix with employee development fosters continuous growth and aligns individual skill development with organizational goals. By implementing the skill matrix, organizations can identify areas where employees need to enhance their skills to contribute more effectively to the company’s objectives. While the objective criteria used for building the matrix set clear benchmarks and promote a fair and transparent approach to evaluating employee progress. Regular assessments and feedback meetings based on the skill matrix enable employees to understand their strengths, areas for improvement, and the development course. Integrating the skill matrix with the employee development plan enhances the workforce’s competency and reinforces a culture of continuous learning within the organization.

When creating a skill matrix, follow the best practices 

To ensure the effectiveness and usefulness of the skills matrix, it’s best to take advice from the practitioners. We have asked Paulina Leja, the HR Manager & HR Business Partner at NeuroSYS, for a few pointers on best practices to consider when creating a skill framework; here they are: 

  • Consider your main aim: Your skill matrix may be used for employees’ development, as well as for their evaluation. Think through the level of detail you want to get into; the more itemized the matrix, the less usable it gets. Keep it objective using a clear-cut scale and consider customized development paths, as no scheme would be universal enough to fit all your employees. Make sure to find the golden mean between the objective value of the framework and its flexibility.   
  • Define skills and competencies clearly: Begin by setting the skills and competencies in the matrix. Ensure they align with the organization’s goals, job roles, and requirements. Use specific and measurable criteria to describe each skill or competency. Tailor the skill matrix to include job-specific skills and competencies relevant to actual roles within your organization. Bear in mind that different positions may require different sets of skills. 
  • Involve stakeholders: Involve HR, managers, and employees in the skills matrix development process. Seek their insights and feedback to ensure the matrix accurately reflects the organization’s needs. Incorporate both objective and subjective assessment. Objective assessment may involve SMART work results, test scores, or project outcomes. While subjective assessment usually appeals to self-assessment, coworkers’ feedback, or manager evaluations. Including stakeholders’ assessment provides a more comprehensive and balanced view of an employee’s skills.
  • Use consistent proficiency levels: Establish a proficiency rating scale to evaluate skills. The levels can range from beginner to expert or be defined using specific descriptors. The proficiency levels should be understandable and aligned with the organization’s competency framework. Clear instructions help maintain consistency and reliability in skill assessments.
  • Regularly evaluate and improve the skill matrix: Evaluate the effectiveness of the skill matrix through feedback, surveys, and data analysis regularly. Identify areas for improvement and make necessary changes to enhance its accuracy and usefulness. Continuously strive to improve the skill matrix based on organizational needs and evolving skill requirements. Skills required for specific roles may change due to technological advancements, industry trends, or evolving organizational goals. Hence, maintain the skill matrix as a dynamic and living document.

Informed decisions with the employee skills matrix

The employee training matrix offers numerous benefits to organizations, including effective talent management, enhanced workforce planning, increased employee engagement, and improved training and development. By implementing this tool, organizations align their workforce with strategic objectives, identify skill gaps, and foster a culture of continuous learning. Companies can effectively map and train employees on the required skills, thanks to the competency matrix. Embracing the employee skills matrix empowers organizations to make informed decisions and nurture a skilled and motivated workforce, gaining a competitive edge in the dynamic business environment.

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