What is a Skills Matrix And How Do I Create One?

5 Things You Need to Do to Create Your Own Skills Matrix

Imagine: a critical assignment comes in, and you need to figure out who to give it to in order to get it done.  You only have one shot to get it right in order to secure that new contract.  Who do you give it to?  Who is the most capable?  We recently posted a skills matrix template on our Tools and Templates Page. You can download it HERE for free.

So What is a Skills Matrix?

In simple terms, a Skills Matrix is a management tool that rates and scores each employee on the knowledge that it takes to do the job.  There are several reasons why you as a manager would want such a tool:

1. A skills matrix helps managers establish a detailed assessment of individual employee’s capabilities.
2. A summary of your team’s capabilities helps you identify where there may be gaps or weaknesses.
3.  A clear definition of how skills are rated identifies a criterion by which you can guide employee development.
4. Your skills assessment can identify where training may be of use.

RELATED:  How to Justify A Need for Training

As you go about creating a skills matrix for your team, here are 5 questions you should ask yourself:

1. Who Does the Evaluation?

The first question you should ask yourself when making a skills matrix is who performs the evaluation for each employee.  There are really two main options.  First, you can do all of the evaluations yourself.  Second, you can have the employees evaluate themselves.  There are pros and cons to each.

If you perform the evaluation, you are assured that scoring will be done with a consistent thought process.  You can compare and contrast each employee based on your observations.  However, there is a downside: unless you have extensive experience working alongside each employee, you’ll be hindered to evaluating their skills purely based on your limited observations and touch points.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Sample Skills Matrix Template

Alternatively, you are likely to get a more comprehensive and thorough assessment of skills when you have your employees rate themselves.  However, each person will evaluate him or herself somewhat differently – some people are tough graders, others are may be overconfident.

To get the best of each approach, you may want to consider doing both – have employees rate themselves first, then review separately and adjust scores based on any observations or experience you have.

2. What Skills and Knowledge Are Important to the Job?

This is the most important aspect of your skills matrix: identifying the skills and knowledge the are critical to the job.  Something to keep in mind here is that the skills you identify should be reasonable and appropriate.  There is no need to list every piece of software installed on your company’s computers.  Eliminate trivial items and those that are not applicable to the job function.  As shown on our skills matrix template, we’ve listed only a handful of items that could be ‘critical’ to the job.

list of skills for matrix

In addition, make sure your skills matrix is balanced; that is, it’s not all just about technical skills, like use of software, or ability to crunch numbers.  In our example, we included some basic professional skills, as well as more technical software knowledge, since professional skills can be just as important as the technical ones.

To help you identify what to list in your skills matrix, think about what your employees do over the course of a typical week.  Focus on those items that are frequent and recurring.  You may also want to look at some old job posting you had for your department, which may have listed some key skills.

RELATED: 7 Things I Look For When Interviewing Job Candidates

3. What Scoring System Should I Use?

Another key step in making any skills matrix is the scoring system.  As shown in our sample template, we clearly defined some key elements of what each score means.  While we could have left it as a simple numeric score on a scale of 1 to 5, we also included a description of what it takes to achieve each rating to aide in evaluating employees.

Ranking Employee skills

One more point: not only does a well-defined scoring system help you evaluate your staff’s skills as they stand today, but it also identifies what it takes for employees to reach a higher level.

4.  What Comparisons Can You Make?

As shown in our template, compare the scores in your skills matrix to give you an understanding of how employees stack up.  Typically, your more seasoned employees will rank higher on average, due to the length of time in the job, while new or younger employees will generally rank lower, simply due to their limited experience.

TIP!  Some Other Ways to Classify and Evaluate Skills Matrix Scores

  • By Region or Location
  • By Employee Title
  • By Job Function

5.  I’ve Made a Skills Matrix.  Now What?

After putting in the effort, take a step back and look at your skills matrix.  What does it tell you?

Do the scores and results seem appropriate?  Are the items that scored high similar to where your team excels?  Do the areas where your team scored the lowest coincide with areas where you struggle?  The first thing to do is to make sure the data and information is realistic.

Next, once you have your skills matrix and you confirm the data makes sense, use it to identify areas where training or experienced may be needed.

Finally, use your skills matrix as a tool to help you manage your organization, day in and day out.  For example, when critical tasks come in, give the assignment to those employees who are best skilled to handle it.  Conversely, if a low priority action comes in, you may want to assign it to someone who could use some experience in a non-critical situations where errors and mistakes are acceptable.  Revisit your scores every year to make sure it’s up-to-date and accurate.

Happy Managing!


Looking for More?  You Might Also Like….

29 Fantastic Ways to Develop Employees

The SMART Goal Concept: Effectively Managing Employee Performance

10 Secrets for New Managers

How to Manage the Office Scrooge

How to Manage Poor Performers


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  • Jennifer

    Which online tools should I consider for managing this stuff? The best one I can find so far is Skills Base (https://www.skills-base.com). Any other suggestions?

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for the question! I am not familiar with any other online versions of a skill matrix, unfortunately. The one you suggest here seems to be pretty good.

      If you’re talking more in terms of competencies and skill development, I have used the Lominger framework and the related products by Korn Ferry. I would highly recommend you look into these products for measuring employees against the competencies needed for the job.

      I hope this helps,

      Tim G.
      The Manager’s Resource Handbook

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