October 5, 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 for most of their lives.

For one, members of the modern workforce aren’t exclusively attached to one organisation. Two, many of them work as consultants and freelancers for clients all across the globe. Three, several members of this modern workforce are highly skilled and demanding. For them, a job is not just about a paycheck; fulfilment at work is equally important.

To retain these highly skilled people, organisations need to make sure that these individuals are motivated enough by the tasks assigned to them.

But organisations can only 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.

Traditionally, CVs helped employers assess individuals so that people with the best skill sets could be assigned to each task. But as modern workers evolve over the course of their lives, developing new skills and interests or moving away from old ones, CVs have failed to keep up because they only capture one aspect of an individual’s skills. CVs are a static list of a person’s formal educational and professional achievements, but 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. In addition to that, however, the analyst may also be someone who loves learning new things and is open to using new systems and tools. A conventional CV won’t tell us this about them. And though apart from looking at CVs, some organisations also hold tests and interviews to assess candidates, these assessments also fail to capture the nuances of each individual’s evolving abilities and interests.

Organisations that are part of the modern workforce therefore face the complex task of getting work done efficiently while keeping their diverse workforce highly motivated.

Some organisations think ping-pong tables and Taco Fridays are motivating factors, but we disagree. In our experience, people feel great when they accomplish things and when they grow professionally and personally.

But how can organisations ensure this?

Efficient skills management is the answer. But here too there is a problem.

The way we look at skills management – “the practice of understanding, developing and deploying people and their skills” – has remained the same even as individuals and organisations embrace the changing workplace and its complexities.

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.

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

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

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

Skill matrixes allow team leaders 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:

  1. It is manager or organisation driven: A traditional skills matrix is usually drawn up by a team leader or the HR department. Individuals have little input or control over its contents.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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 software development.

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:

  1. Individuals: Beautifully map your soft and hard skills, and software proficiency. View your skills development over time. Share your skills profile with others so that they can understand what you enjoy working with.
  2. 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 software proficiency required for certain projects. Identify skill gaps to plan reskilling or recruitments.
  3. 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 is 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 live. Sign up at muchskills.com.

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