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The skill matrix : Why and How?

Definitions and key concepts

1.1 What is the skills and versatility matrix?

Skill Matrix

The skills matrix is a tool for mapping and assessing the specific skills of each employee within an organization. These may be technical skills (hard skills), behavioral skills (soft skills) or domain- or industry-specific skills. This matrix helps identify team strengths and weaknesses, plan training and development, and align employee skills with corporate objectives.

On the other hand, the versatility matrix is a tool for assessing and visualizing each employee's ability to perform various tasks or roles within the organization. It measures employees' flexibility and adaptability, and can help identify those who can be trained to take on multiple or interchangeable roles. This matrix can help improve team resilience and efficiency, by enabling better task allocation and providing cover in the event of absence or role change.

1.2 What is the difference between a skills matrix and a versatility matrix?

The skills matrix and the versatility matrix are two distinct but complementary tools used in human resources management. Although they sometimes overlap, they have specific objectives and uses.

Competency matrix: focuses on identifying and quantifying individual competencies within the organization. This includes technical skills (hard skills), interpersonal skills (soft skills) and sometimes exceptional or unique skills (mad skills). This matrix can help identify skills gaps, guide training and development initiatives, and align the company's talent with its strategic objectives.

Versatility Matrix: This tool, on the other hand, focuses more on employees' ability to perform multiple roles or a variety of tasks. Versatility refers to the ability to adapt to different situations, tasks or roles, and the versatility matrix helps identify those with a wider range of applicable skills. This is particularly useful for succession planning, capacity management and reducing the risks associated with dependence on key individuals.

So, the main difference between the two lies in their purpose: the skills matrix focuses on assessing specific skills, while the versatility matrix focuses on the ability of individuals to perform a variety of tasks or take on different roles within the organization.

Why build a skills and versatility matrix?

2.1. Regulations and quality - ISO 9001 certification

Building a skills and versatility matrix is essential to meet regulatory and quality requirements, particularly in the context of ISO 9001 certification. This international standard for quality management systems requires organizations to identify and manage the skills required for positions that have an impact on product or service conformity. This includes identifying required skills, measuring existing skills, assessing gaps and implementing measures to develop and maintain these skills.

The skills and versatility matrix plays a crucial role in this process. It provides an overview of the skills available within the organization, and highlights areas where action is needed to fill gaps. Using this matrix not only helps to ensure compliance with ISO 9001, but also contributes to improving the overall performance of the quality management system.

2.2. Follow-up of authorizations

Monitoring work clearances 

Tracking clearances is another major reason why building a skills and versatility matrix is essential in any organization. Clearances are the formal authorizations granted to employees to perform certain tasks or operate certain machines or equipment, often based on their training and experience. A well-designed skills and versatility matrix enables these authorizations to be tracked and managed effectively. It provides an overview of which employees have the necessary skills and authorizations to perform specific tasks, facilitating optimal task allocation.

In addition, it helps identify employees who may require additional training to obtain certain clearances, or those whose clearances are about to expire and need to be renewed. In this way, the skills and versatility matrix serves as a valuable tool for ensuring compliance, safety and operational efficiency.

2.3 Securing and transmitting know-how

Securing know-how and passing it on is another imperative for which organizations need to develop a skills and versatility matrix. Know-how, which represents the specific expertise accumulated by employees over time, is a valuable asset for any company. However, this capital can be at risk, particularly when a key employee leaves the organization. A skills and versatility matrix helps to identify and secure this know-how by determining precisely who possesses which skills or expertise within the company. It also facilitates succession planning and skills transfer by identifying potential replacements for each key position.

In addition, by highlighting existing skills and those that need to be developed, the matrix helps to design effective training plans to ensure the transmission of know-how. In this way, the skills and versatility matrix plays a decisive role in ensuring the continuity and resilience of the company, by securing its knowledge capital.

2.4. Implement a training plan

Skill Matrix

An effective training plan relies on a clear understanding of existing skills and potential areas for improvement within the team. A skills and versatility matrix provides a clear view of these elements, identifying not only the skills currently held by employees, but also those that may require further development. This enables training managers to create targeted, relevant programs that meet the organization's real needs.

In addition, the matrix can help identify employees who could benefit most from certain training courses, or those who could serve as in-house trainers thanks to their expertise in certain areas. In this way, the use of a skills and versatility matrix can significantly improve the effectiveness and impact of training initiatives.

2.5. Support for recruitment

Recruitment is another area where the development of a skills and versatility matrix is crucial. In today's intense competition for talent, it's essential for organizations to understand exactly what skills they need to achieve their objectives. A skills and versatility matrix provides an overview of existing skills within the organization, and highlights gaps that may require recruitment. This enables hiring managers to target more precisely the skills required when looking for new talent.

In addition, by highlighting skills that are in short supply within the organization, the matrix can help identify positions for which it might be beneficial to offer in-house training, rather than seeking to recruit from outside. In this way, a skills and versatility matrix can provide valuable support for recruitment, helping to align the recruitment strategy with the organization's real needs.

How to build a skill matrix?

Building a skills and versatility matrix is not a task to be taken lightly; it's a strategic process that can transform the way you manage your talent and drive your organization. Here are the key steps to building a robust and effective skills matrix.

3.1 Identify key skills and areas of versatility :

The first step in building your skills matrix is to identify the key skills and areas of versatility required in your organization. These are the technical and functional skills that are crucial to achieving your objectives. It can be useful to work closely with the managers of each department to determine the specific skills required for each position. Don't forget to consider "soft" skills, such as communication and problem-solving, which are just as important to your organization's success.

3.2. Evaluate skill and versatility levels:

Once you've identified the key competencies, the next step is to assess the skill level and versatility of each member of your team. This can be done through individual interviews, performance appraisals or skills tests. The aim is to understand not only whether an individual possesses a particular skill, but also how competent and versatile they are in that area.

3.3. Structuring the matrix :

The third step is to structure the matrix itself. This involves creating a grid where each row represents a team member and each column represents a key skill. The point of intersection between a row and a column should indicate that individual's level of competence in that particular area. Versatility can be represented by adding an extra dimension to the matrix to indicate the number of skills in which each individual is proficient.

3.4 Managing the data and updating the matrix :

Last, but by no means least, is data management and updating the matrix. Skills and organizational needs evolve over time, so it's crucial to update the matrix regularly to keep it relevant. This may involve reassessing employees' skills at regular intervals, adding new skills to the matrix as they become relevant, or reviewing existing skills to ensure they are still aligned with the organization's objectives.

Building a skills and versatility matrix is no simple task, but the benefits it can bring to your organization are immense. With a well-designed skills matrix, you'll be better equipped to manage your talent, plan your training, and lead your organization to success.

Why use a skill management software instead of Excel?

Talent management is a major concern for organizations and can be complex without the right tools. While many turn to Excel, there are many reasons why opting for dedicated talent management software, such as the one offered by Mercateam, is a more sensible solution.

4.1. Continuous updating of data :

Mercateam offers automatic, real-time data updating, unlike Excel, which requires manual updating. The latter can become a tedious task, and the matrix can quickly become obsolete if not regularly updated.

4.2 Facilitated collaboration :

Unlike Excel, competency management software like Mercateam is an intrinsically collaborative tool. It simplifies the sharing of information and documents, enabling smooth collaboration between team members.

4.3 Process integration :

Mercateam offers the possibility of integrating different processes within a single platform. This makes it possible to map skills, launch 360° assessments, allocate training, track authorizations, and much more.

4.4. Data Security:

Skills management software, including Mercateam, is designed with strict security protocols to protect your data. This means they can encrypt your data, control who has access to it, and monitor suspicious activity. In a context where data breaches are a major concern for businesses, this functionality is essential. In contrast, although Excel can be password-protected, it doesn't offer the same level of security and is more vulnerable to human error, such as accidentally sharing files containing sensitive information.

4.5. Customization :

Every organization has its own unique skills management needs. Competency management software, such as Mercateam, can generally be tailored to meet these specific needs. For example, you can configure the software to track and assess competencies that are particularly important to your organization, define specific competency assessment processes, or customize the reports and analyses generated by the software.

Whether your organization is large or small, Mercateam helps you to effectively manage skills matrices and employee authorizations, ensuring that your organization has the right people in the right jobs at all times. Choosing Mercateam over Excel for competency management means opting for a dynamic, collaborative and integrated tool, capable of meeting the specific needs of your organization.

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