A competency matrix is a handy team and project management tool that helps you
get the most out of your internal talent, and to quickly and easily identify the needs of your workforce. It will help you define standards for recruitment and selection, for
performance evaluation or employee behaviour standards.
Competency matrix and performance management
As Jurgen Appelo explains in his book, Management 3.0, working with each employee
separately is not enough to make improvements in a team or in an organisation. It´s vital to keep an overview that helps us ensure that the pieces fit together in the best possible way.
The competency matrix, or talent matrix, is a tool developed by Christoph Braun that
helps us balance team performance and boost the development of their skills. Also,
it enables you to align your employees´ abilities with the company´s objectives.
With this tool, we can map the skills needed and desired for a team or project. The
matrix is usually represented by a grid showing the desired competencies, those that are available, and those the team does not offer.
When defining processes or creating new teams, having this information to hand is
extremely useful as the matrix presents it in a visual layout that´s easy to follow up.
How can a competency matrix help my company?
A competency assessment matrix has two primary purposes:
Firstly, it helps you assess the skills needed for a project or team. To do this, first
make a list of the competencies required to carry out a job. This is a useful exercise
when forming a team or deciding whether to hire new talent.
And secondly, the matrix provides you with information about the skills available
within a team or an organisation. If, for example, a project requires business and data
analysis skills, we will have an internal skills "database" where we can start looking for
the right person. What´s more, this is an excellent way of spotting and discovering
A third purpose is also mentioned in an article in Forbes: training. Thanks to
competence mapping, we can create learning programmes that enable employees to
develop all their skills and acquire new ones that the company needs.
Benefits of using a competency matrix
Generally speaking, a talent map or matrix helps boost performance in different areas,
so its benefits are felt throughout the entire company.
- It helps teams to get an overview of the skills available, as well as those that
are lacking. Once the latter has been detected, it´s much easier to hire
professionals that complement the team in question.
- The matrix enables you to quickly and easily find substitutes when other
employees are sick or on holiday. When you have a good idea about who does
what, it becomes much easier to find people from within the company who can
support you in this area.
- It offers professionals, on an individual basis, a complete picture of their own
competencies and what they bring to the team and the organisation. It´s an
excellent starting point for looking at learning and development opportunities.
- It makes people aware of the skills that are required for their team to work
successfully and provides information on competencies they need to master.
- The tool gives companies a big picture of the skills available among their team
and areas for improvement. This allows them to develop effective training and
- It helps distribute internal talent in the best and most efficient way. We don´t
always need to hire new professionals to cover specific needs. By checking our
competency matrix, we can often find people who fulfil the desired goals.
- Improve internal and external customer service. When teams are made aware of
their skills, we will have more tools and information to prevent problems.
- Provide a clear vision for professional development and productivity for every
person in the team and the entire workforce. This also enables us to analyse the
effectiveness of training and development programmes.
Competencies to assess
Each case will have different requirements and this will affect the design of a
competency matrix, although we can outline a series of general competencies for
- Results-orientated: is the ability to meet set targets, both as an individual and
within a team. This kind of system is becoming more common to assess
- Self-development and autonomy: it´s essential to assess your employees´s level of autonomy and their capacity to carry out tasks without needing to be
supervised or managed by another member of the team.
- Teamwork: this definitely is one soft skill that is becoming more and more
valued within organisations. People who can collaborate and can work in a team
are sought after.
- Emphasis on clients´s needs and requests: customer service skills are also
highly valued as companies are, more and more, looking to improve their client
- Productivity: while it´s not easy to measure employee productivity, it´s one of the competencies that is usually covered in performance matrices and appraisals.
- Quality of service: productivity is important, but the quality of the product or
service must also be high. In other words, it must be carried out to meet
- Ability to work under pressure: another positively valued skill is the ability to
work under pressure; or rather, to high standards or very tight deadlines.
- Responsiveness: this is the ability to find the right solutions to problems that
arise unexpectedly. Responsiveness is important in the day-to-day reality of any
- Leadership: not everyone is a born leader, but it´s essential to spot people in the
company who have the aptitude to lead people or teams. This is especially
important when it comes to deciding on promotions.
- Motivation: measuring employee motivation gives us valuable information for
carrying out initiatives that improve this aspect, along with the sense of
Steps for creating a competency matrix
To create your own competency matrix, just follow these steps recommended by
1- Prepare the table by following the example provided. Put your team members' names in the blue columns.
Also, create a key for assessing their competencies. For this, we recommend the one
created by Jurgen Apello:
- Expert knowledge (green).
- Practitioner (yellow).
- Novice (red).
2- Fill in the yellow columns with information on the competencies needed or desired
for the project in question.
3. Evaluate each team member´s knowledge or experience in each of the skills listed.
This can be done either by the manager or by the employees themselves.
4- Make decisions based on the information represented in the competency matrix and
reflect it in the right-hand column.
This is one example of a competency matrix; however, there are other types of tables
you can use. The important thing is that each company uses the system that best suits
their needs. By doing so, you´ll find the matrix extremely useful and effective in helping you get the best out of your team.