Have you heard the saying “what’s worse than training a staff member and having them leave?”, the answer is simple “not training them and having them stay”.  Many employers are worried that training staff skills them up to leave, but the reality is that training your staff is just one element of smart retention strategies.

What does a skills matrix do?

Clever employers assess their staff’s abilities and understand the need to be aware of areas of weakness or indeed areas where training could assist staff to the next level!  The best way to do this is to have a “training” or “skills” matrix.  A skills matrix can also help employers with several aspects of managing staff, such as:

  1. Clearly identify job responsibilities,
  2. Measure performance against those responsibilities,
  3. Understanding suitability for roles,
  4. Understanding how an individual will fit into group dynamics,
  5. Salary reviews,
  6. Understanding who is suitable for promotion,

Prerequisites for a skills matrix

Firstly you need to ensure that your employees have job descriptions!  If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it (and managing it is about improving it)!  Once you have job descriptions you can understand where your staff’s strengths and weaknesses lie.

How do you develop a skills matrix?

Once you have job the job description, be sure that you have any required qualifications and industry standards listed as well.

Then start your list with all staff names (I use an excel spreadsheet and list the staff names vertically down the first column), then I list the skills that are required by all staff, eg: answering the phone; using office equipment; knowing all computer programs, etc (I then list these horizontally across the top of the spreadsheet).  Then I continue on with specific skills for specific positions (again horizontally) this also includes qualifications.

Finally I then colour code the cross point on both axis’, eg:

  1. no training required,
  2. training required,
  3. currently undergoing training, and
  4. training complete.

I also recommend including an extra coding system to note staff who are able to skill up other staff members, as this has a huge positive impact on increasing staff morale and is a cost effective way to skill up all staff members!  So for example if Stephanie was on row 4 and using the switchboard was on column B and I was adept at the system and also able to train others, I would have cell 4B coloured and coded to show “no training required” and “able to train others”.