December 21, 2020

Say goodbye to the skills matrix, a better way to visualise people’s skills is here

Visualised data can tell better stories about individuals, teams and organisations than plain numbers or text. Use MuchSkills to get a clearer picture of the skills and skill sets available to you.

Noel Braganza
Say goodbye to the skills matrix, a better way to visualise people’s skills is here

Technology has significantly changed the way we work since the days most people stuck to one job and employer for most of their lives.

Among other things, technology has helped improve efficiency through automation and digitisation, facilitated increased team collaboration across locations, allowed businesses to hire remote workers and workers to choose to go freelance because of the flexibility it offers them. Technology has enabled even small and medium businesses to win clients across the world.

The 2020 Covid pandemic has accelerated some of these trends – especially that of remote and freelance work – and experts now believe that these changes are likely to transform the world of work forever.

As we tentatively enter 2021, here’s a quick look at what the modern workplace looks like today – and will possibly resemble for the next three years:

  • Several employees are working remotely, often for clients spread across the globe. Many of them might never return to work in a physical office space.
  • As the line between their professional and personal life blurs, they are working longer hours each day. In the US, one estimate puts this at three hours more per day.
  • The loneliness of remote work combined with longer working hours has led to the risk of burnout in the long run.

Given the scenario above, organisations will need to think of how best to assign tasks to employees to ensure that they remain motivated and engaged.

Organisations will need to think of how best to assign tasks to employees to ensure that they remain motivated and engaged.

Research has shown that they can do this if they understand each individual’s unique skills, skill sets and abilities and what skills these individuals are the most interested in deploying, and allocate work accordingly. “Employees do their best in roles that enable them to integrate their talent (the natural capacity for excellence), skills (what they can do) and knowledge (what they know),” said Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report published in 2017. “Workers want roles and employers that allow them to make the most of their strengths.”

Self awareness and strength awareness is core to looking at skills with MuchSkills

“Workers want roles and employers that allow them to make the most of their strengths.” - Gallup’s State of the American Workplace

Traditionally, employers used CVs to assess individuals and allocate people with the best skill sets to relevant tasks. Similarly, they introduced ping-pong tournaments and Taco Fridays (among other things) to build relationships between teams and boost motivation.

In our opinion, however, CVs are redundant today, and though team-building games and events are fun, they serve a limited purpose.

CVs are a static list of a person’s formal educational and professional achievements, capturing only one aspect of an individual’s skills. They are inadequate as a tool to manage skills in the 21st century because unlike their predecessors, modern workers evolve over the course of their lives, developing new skills and interests and moving away from old ones. CVs fail to capture these changes in real time. The modern workplace requires a more dynamic approach. Here’s an example. An expert financial analyst could have an MBA from a top business school, which will find a mention in their CV. But the analyst may also be someone who is a great learner and incredibly curious about how things work. A conventional CV won’t tell us this about them. Similarly, once the analyst is hired, their CV in the HR database is rarely updated. Employees usually update their CVs only when they plan to change jobs.

Similarly, while ping-pong tournaments and Taco Fridays are fun and have their value, experience has shown us that the best way to motivate and engage employees is to enable them to grow personally and professionally. This happens only with efficient skills management. But though many individuals and organisations have embraced the changing workplace and its complexities, the way they look at skills management – “the practice of understanding, developing and deploying people and their skills” – has remained the same.

In this blog, I will talk about how MuchSkills – a completely new way of visualising skill sets – can aid individuals and organisations in efficient skills management, helping each of them to realise their full potential.

For that we’ll need to talk about the competency framework used for skill management, which is also called the skills matrix or competency matrix.

THE SKILLS MATRIX

A skills matrix is a visual tool that displays, in the form of a table, each individual’s level of competency in specific skills and their level of interest in utilising those skills. Some skills matrices are basic, others granular, with a high level of detail.

Developing a traditional skills matrix is a valuable exercise for organisations because it helps managers understand whether the basic skills required for the job at hand are present in their teams and identify any gaps that can be detrimental to the organisation’s performance. If only a few employees possess the skills at the core of an organisation’s work, for instance, they will bear the burden of doing a chunk of the work, which may negatively affect the final outcome.

An employee skills matrix also helps organisations to efficiently utilise existing skills by redistributing talent internally and plan for future recruitment.

For employees, a skills matrix that highlights their strengths and weaknesses can be a starting point for self-improvement.

Skill matrixes allow team leaders to pick the employees who have exactly the skill sets that are needed for each project. Teams are better prepared for projects because they are aware of the skills available. If a particular skill set is missing from the team, team leaders can look for employees with that skill elsewhere in the organisation or recruit someone with those skills. 

All this leads to efficient employee utilisation. That’s not all. When employees are matched with projects that need their skills, the outcome is always good, leading to happy clients and employees.

But the traditional skills matrix has its limitations:

  • It is manager or organisation driven: A traditional skills matrix for employees is usually drawn up by a team leader or the HR department; individuals have little input or control over its contents.
  • Lack of nuance: In its current popular spreadsheet form, a skills matrix is largely static but the requirements of work and each individual’s skill sets are not. Individuals develop/evolve over time, which is not captured by the skills matrix unless organisations have put in place a system in which the matrix is updated regularly. But it’s only large organisations with dedicated HR teams that are likely to do that.
  • Data overload: Traditional skills matrices become unwieldy in large organisations, where the amount of data is huge. Imagine poring over the skill sets of each employee in a 100-strong organisation. Similarly, filling in a spreadsheet is not something most employees enjoy doing.
  • Charts are boring to read: Even if you have the data of the competencies in your team or department, you need time and attention to study it to find out trends such as the dominant skills, missing skills and so on.

What organisations need is a simple design interface that can show them in one glance all they need to know about the skill sets in the organisation. 

Visualised skills data shows organisations all they need to know about the skill sets in their teams. 

THE CASE FOR MUCHSKILLS

This is where MuchSkills comes in.

MuchSkills is a tool that beautifully visualises data about skill sets that its users – individuals, team leaders and top executives – can swiftly access in an attractive, easily comprehensible interface.

At the core of MuchSkills' philosophy is the belief that data must be communicated in an easily accessible way so that all of us (not just the experts) can understand it effortlessly, and also spot patterns, trends and outliers. These insights then allow us to use the data to make informed decisions.

MuchSkills is the skills visualisation tool for you no matter if you’re new to work or have years of experience, if you’re a growing team or even a large organisation. The visualised skills data you see on MuchSkills tells better stories about individuals, teams and organisations. It helps you look at your skills and your team's in a new way for a more productive, engaged and happier work life.

MuchSkills helps people design a skills profile for themselves that covers three categories: Job focus, soft skills and technical skills.

MuchSkills - the modern Skills Matrix visualization of Job Focus, Soft Skills and Technical Skills

Here's how individuals, team managers and organisations can benefit by using MuchSkills:

  • Individuals: Beautifully map your hard, soft and technical skills. View your skills development over time. Share your skills profile with others so that they can understand what you enjoy working with.
  • Team managers: Get a beautifully visualised overview of your team's skill sets in one place. Easily search for specific skills within your team to assess if they have the skills and technical proficiency required for certain projects. Identify skill gaps to plan reskilling or recruitments.
  • C-level and leadership: Assess your organisation’s skills, skill sets and development over time and identify any skill gaps so that you can plan reskilling or recruitments.
MuchSkills - Team Skills Overview - The modern skills matrix

Unlike a CV, MuchSkills helps individuals track their professional growth over time. As an individual, isn't it motivating if you can see your professional growth with just a tap of your phone? That a year ago you marked yourself a “beginner” in Python proficiency, but you now are confident enough to mark yourself as someone with “intermediate” proficiency.

Track employee skills development with MuchSkills

Similarly, as a team leader, when you have a project coming up that you need to build a team for, what would you prefer? Making sense of a conventional skills matrix on an excel sheet, or a quick glance at an interface that immediately gives you an overview of the skills available in your team, any skill gaps, and even how employees have evolved over time?

MuchSkills is here. Sign up at muchskills.com.

MuchSkills Blog

Enjoying our articles?

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive MuchSkills insights directly in your inbox. Don't worry we will respect your inbox

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.