A skills matrix is a short, descriptive but incredibly useful picture of a team’s capabilities.
Skills matrix are the connection between your organisation’s goals and the actions it needs to take to complete them.
Boards should pay extra attention to skills matrix because the level of scrutiny on their performance is generally increasing dramatically. So, they must ensure they have the right skills to function correctly.
A free skills matrix template
A skills matrix is a visual representation of all skills available on a given team. It might track a small group, a department, or even an entire organisation, depending on its size.
- It is designed in a cross-reference graph format, with names on one axis and skills across the other.
- Skills are usually further defined using a proficiency level so that readers can see how skilled a person is in a particular area.
- These scales can vary. A typical example is to use numbered scales (1-3 or 1-5), with the higher numbers representing more proficiency. Ability6
Here is a free Ability6 skills matrix template – clearly laid out and well organised. Download this template.
Why is a skills matrix important?
You wouldn’t build a house without the right materials, you wouldn’t bake a cake without the right ingredients, and you shouldn’t start a project at work without the right skills on your team.
Skills matrixes help you determine this. They’re clear, concise, handy for comparisons, and have the basic info you need to be sure of your team’s capacity.
How important is a skills matrix to boards?
Extremely important. Boards are teams too, so tracking the skills of each member is not only worthwhile but essential to ensuring a board’s success.
Boards are, after all, the bodies that set company direction. Their skill sets must reflect the company’s mission. So it’s important to know what skills you have on your board and, crucially, what gaps there are to fill.
How do you make a skills matrix?
It’s a simple process:
- Determine what skills you need to take your project forward. For a board, this means careful analysis of where your company is going and the expertise you need to get it there.
- Determine the proficiency of your current team in those skills. Use a scoring system like the one described above.
- If possible, assess the willingness of team members to use their skills. This matters a lot on boards because directors will often have skills in many areas and may only want to use some of them. For example, a director who spent years in banking before moving to marketing might prefer to focus on the latter.
Lay your data out on the matrix. Use a standard digital tool like Excel or Google Sheets for simplicity.
Who evaluates skill proficiency?
This depends on the context, and there is no one right answer.
- You can ask the subjects to self-evaluate and give their score, but critics of this method will say it introduces the potential for bias through over/underconfidence.
- Line managers could do it, although this is usually not applicable to board members.
- Subjects could undergo a skills assessment, allowing independent observers to score them.
The matrix could use formal qualifications as a benchmark. Increasingly, board members are turning to specialised qualifications to realise their full potential.
Skills matrices are graphical representations of the skills available to an organisation.
When done correctly, they will show a team’s capacity to complete a task and highlight areas where new talent may need to be brought on board.
Given this potential, they are vital for boards.