How our skills matrix supports candid conversations with staff

Why did we introduce a skills matrix?

We want a great team of people doing great work and feeling good about it. Regular conversations with staff about their professional development helps to achieve this; and having a skills matrix helps these conversations to be detailed and candid.

Skills matrix

Skills matrix

How does it help?

Before having a skills matrix, our conversations with staff were relatively light and positive; we found it difficult to point out weaknesses and skill gaps. Now we use the matrix to talk more objectively about the skills and behaviours expected at each level, and can list the things we need to see for someone to step up.

It seems to be working! It seems that the more candid we are, the more we see staff take ownership of their development. Staff are becoming more self-reflective and are proactively seeking opportunities to extend their skills on and off projects. As a manager it’s great to provide a clear pathway for career progression and watch staff flourish off the back of that.

In addition to motivating staff, we use the skills matrix to inform decisions around:

  • Themes for internal learning (team days, coaching, mentoring)
  • Themes for external learning (conferences, courses)
  • Starting role and salary for new staff (we use it during interviews)
  • Timing and value of salary increases
  • Timing of promotions.

What does it look like?

Here is the first version of our skills matrix. It’s fairly basic, but it enabled us to quickly share the key skills and behaviours expected for each level of Meld designer.

Meld Studios Skills Matrix 1.0

After using this first version staff suggested a bunch of improvements that we’re now factoring into v2.0. Some of these improvements include: a more detailed breakdown of levels within each role (e.g. entry, mid and upper level), better ways to capture notes about each skill, and an indication of years experience and salary for each level.

Can you use it?

Sure, why not! We created this with our own staff and business in mind so it might not translate directly to your team, but you can use it as a starting point. If you’d like some tips and tricks, or would like us to create a similar tool for you, give me a call on 0450 489 410 or drop us a line at principals@meldstudios.com.au.