What is a Skills Matrix and Why are They Important for Diversity?
A skills matrix is your window into the skillset of your employees that form the bedrock of your organisation. They are incredibly useful to know what skills and competencies your employees have, and how the future of your operations can be affected. They’re also very important for workplace diversity, as they can identify the broad set of skills your employees have and what they need to improve upon.
But many managers aren’t entirely sure what a skills matrix is, what benefits they present to their organisation.
So if you’re looking to understand this further, keep reading. Below, we’ll outline exactly what a skills matrix is, why it’s important, why it’s vital for diversity in your workplace and also how to create one. We hope this helps you improve the development of your staff and allow you to create a high-quality and dynamic team.
What is a skills matrix?
A skills matrix (sometimes called a competency matrix) is a structured framework that businesses can use to map out the skills of their employees and what level they are at a particular skill.
You can use it for planning, managing and tracking current and desired skillsets for individual staff members, teams, projects or the whole business
Skills matrix example
The easiest skill matrix is a grid which outlines the names of your employees, along with all their skills and assessment of those skill levels.
A table as simple as the above can assist you understand what skills your employees are missing, and what they need to be trained further in.
Why is it important?
A skills matrix is critical for any type of business that makes decisions based on data. This is especially true for Human Resources and project management teams.
They’re excellent for tracking the competencies, skills, qualifications and certifications of everybody in your organisation, whether you run a non-profit, a company or a small team.
If you use the matrix right, they can practically work very well to make your processes more efficient and even improve your bottom line.
Your skills matrix is also important because, once you’ve set it up, it’s an easy reference guide to check which person has the right skills for a particular project.
Benefits of a skills matrix
Some of the benefits of a skills matrix includes:
- Choosing the right people for the job. By looking through the skill levels of your staff, you can fill the positions in your team or project with the most appropriate person for the task at hand.
- Find areas of improvement. A skills matrix can help you work out what skills are missing in your team or in your organisation, and what training you’ll need to put in place to ensure those skills are up to scratch. You organisation may be at a significant disadvantage if your competitors are more qualified in the requisite skills.
- Locate your ‘skill gaps’. A skills matrix can help you look for gaps between your staff, your teams and the departments within your organisation.
- Monitor your staff development. Matrices can give you information about what areas in which you’ll need to train your employees. You can also use it to map out the career of your employees and their development. If they know what skills they need to get that promotion.
- Help HR find replacements. If somebody in your organisation resigns, it will be easier for your HR teams to know what skills you’ve just lost and who you need to hire in their place. Practically, it will accelerate the process of hiring somebody, saving time and resources in the long run.
- Monitor your highly skilled staff members. With a skills matrix, you can very easily identify which employees have the highest value in terms of skills and track them. These will be your most valuable employees, so it’s vital that you know who they are. It’s also an easy reference when you’re looking to recognise and/or promote somebody.
Why a skills matrix is important for diversity
A skills matrix is important for diversity because you can use it to create a broader and richer set of professional skills that go beyond just traditional business skills like communication and critical thinking. Employees are a diverse bunch of people, and it’s important not to categorise them according to some pre-conceived notion of what skills they should have to succeed.
You can create a skills matrix, therefore, based on what your employees are passionate about, what skills they have beyond just within the workplace and also what particular professional development goals they may personally have. The matrix can be updated to also include things like your employees’ interests, preferences and goals – creating a truly holistic window into a person’s strength and what trajectory they are on to grow.
This is very useful, as you can use a diverse skills matrix to:
- Identify where investment can be usefully increased in certain areas
- Help build the skills the employees themselves want to develop
- Increase staff retention rates (they’ll be less likely to leave if you’re truly invested in them)
- Locate areas of potential growth within your organisation
- Provide meaningful mentorship and coaching to your staff
How to create a skills matrix
There are a few easy steps you can take when putting together a skills matrix. We’ll outline these below.
- Create a database of skills
The first thing you can do is create a skills database, listing the skills you require for a particular position, project or department within your organisation.
Here, you’ll need to group these skills into categories like communication, management, technical skills, data analysis and so on.
It is important to get specific here as to what skills are needed. Don’t underestimate the value of soft skills like teamwork and time management. They’re just as critical as hard technical skills.
Start with the most important skills that are relevant to your business and go from there. It’s a good idea to ask experienced employees within your organisation about what skills are needed.
- Make a grading system
This will be used to rank the skills of your employees. You can rank these skills in however way you want. But an example can include:
- A staff member has a basic understanding of the topic but hasn’t applied it in practice yet.
- They’re in the early stages of the learning the skills at a practical level and need some support from you.
- The staff member has had experience, can work alone and solve problems on their own initiative. They can also coach juniors perform tasks related to that skill.
- Someone who has a lot of experience applying this skill and can speak with customers about it. They can teach both other members of staff and also customers / clients more about it too. They may even have an official qualification in the skill.
- Not only does you staff member have a lot of experience in the skill, but they know the big picture. They can discuss details, advise clients and keep well up to date on the skill.
- Evaluate the skills of your staff
You can assess the skills of each of your staff members in a range of ways. This can include through:
- Self-assessment. This is where an employee grades themselves on the skill personally.
- Manager assessment. This is where a manager will assess the skills of your employee.
- Team assessment. You can get your team to determine the skills of your employee.
- Skills assessment. You can ask the employee to complete a set of tests to determine how skilled they are.
- You can get your employees officially certified in certain skills.
- Visualise the results
A good idea then is to then take the data you’ve collected and create a visual representation of your skills matrix. You can do this by creating something like a graph or a chart.
Skills matrix vs competency matrix: what’s the difference?
There is no significant difference between a skills and competency matrix. They are in practical terms the same thing, and the only real difference in meaning between the word ‘skill’ and ‘competency’.
A ‘skill’ refers to a particular ability that somebody has and how proficient they are in executing that ability. For example, ‘time management’ or ‘Ability to use Microsoft Office’.
A competency is a broader concept than a skill. It refers to a grouped set of abilities and knowledge that are needed to be considered ‘competent’ in performing a task. If you are highly skilled in things like Microsoft Office, data entry and programming, you could be considered ‘competent’ in computer literacy.
The importance you place on these differences is really up to you. Depending on your organisation, you could still use the term ‘skill matrix’ and ‘competency matrix’ interchangeably. When somebody has high levels of skill in something, they are quite clearly competent.