How can organisations build a successful skills matrix?

Reinout Brons Reinout Brons Consulting Lead, EMEA

In my last blog, I looked at the power of unlocking hidden skills in an organisation. Building a clear picture of the – often hard-to-see – skills across a business can help leaders to leverage tough-to-find competencies, boost employee engagement, and accelerate internal mobility. But despite the huge benefits of increasing skills visibility, creating a comprehensive skills matrix is much easier said than done. In a large global organisation, where do you start? And how do leaders uncover hidden skills across every part of their workforce, including contingent workers?

Organisations around the globe are increasingly adopting a skills-based approach. In a 2022 Deloitte Skills-Based Survey, 90% of executives said they are now actively experimenting with skills-based approaches across a range of workforce practices, while 73% of workers said that skills-based practices would improve their experiences at work. These findings demonstrate that leaders who want to keep up with the competition in accessing and retaining sought-after talent can’t afford to overlook their internal skills landscape.

In this blog, I share practical tips for building a skills matrix that empowers leaders to effectively leverage internal talent and deliver more meaningful worker experiences.

Don’t try and do it all at once

Creating a future-ready skills matrix isn’t as simple as turning on a light. It’s almost impossible for an organisation to tackle the whole picture at once, particularly if they have a complex, global workforce. Instead, they should focus on key business areas or current and expected future skills profiles – essentially starting by tracking the most valuable skills to the organisation and working out from there. It’s also important to strike a balance between a traditional, narrow focus on role-based skills and casting the net so wide that the breadth of skills captured becomes impossible to categorise and analyse. Identifying the top ten or fifteen most crucial skills to a business and systematically tracking these across key worker populations is often the best way to get started.

Ask individuals to rate their skills and interests

One of the most straightforward ways to capture hidden skills across worker communities is simply to ask them. An interactive survey that empowers individuals to outline their current skills base while highlighting competencies they are interested in building can be a really powerful way to gain insights into hidden, transferable skills and key areas of focus for learning and development. There are methodologies available to support employees with rating their skills and specialists (like us) that can develop a good rating mechanism so employees can go beyond good-moderate-bad towards a rating that ensures everyone’s are comparable. This process is also a great way to boost employee engagement by demonstrating a business-wide focus on individual capabilities and development needs. Another way to capture hidden skills could be a CV or resume review that takes a much broader perspective than matching an individual to a single job profile.

Rate skills according to experience

During the skills exploration process, it’s important not only to identify skills but to rank them effectively. If you need someone who can quickly transfer into a critical function, and hit the ground running, it’s important to understand if they are a novice in a crucial skills area or highly experienced. Equally, if you’re looking to build a team from the ground up, you may want to identify a group of workers with lower-level transferrable skills that can be honed over time. A simple ranking system applied inside your skills matrix can ensure this information is always at your fingertips.

Work with expert partners

Leaders often tell me they can’t see their workforce, particularly their contingent workforce. They aren’t sure where and how they are being engaged, never mind the individual skills these workers bring to the table. They may need expert support to both turn up worker visibility and explore the skills they have available. This often means engaging an expert consulting partner like KellyOCG to map workers and skills in a key area of an organisation. A business might also need external support from tools that allow them to effectively visualise and understand their skills matrix once they have gathered a meaningful data set. Don’t be afraid to seek external support to ensure that you’re analysing available skills effectively.

Organisations around the world are facing complex economic conditions, with many sectors experiencing either fierce competition for talent or a significant slowing of applicants coming to market, as candidates choose the security of staying where they are. A comprehensive understanding of skills inside your business has never been more crucial, and those who can effectively map and leverage those skills are likely to come out ahead.

Looking for added workforce or skills visibility or advice on building a dynamic skills matrix? Reach out any time to start a conversation.


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