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Skill matrix: Creating meaningful development plans for your team

You must be explicitly clear about expectations to get meaningful, valuable outcomes from the team. One side of the clarity is about team members’ skills and capabilities. But you are actively nurturing the future by understanding their current set, evaluating options, and guiding each individual’s progress. Here are some ways to prepare, assess, and update the skill matrix for your team.

Initial setup

While building the team, you will describe each position you have. Each team member must have clear expectations, responsibilities, and outcomes. The more actionable the description, the better because it is easy for you to assess candidates to meet expectations and develop team members’ skills for the future.

UX designer’s skill matrix
UX designer’s skill matrix

My approach was to connect each responsibility with a specific skill. This helped me to prepare measurable requirements for each role and make it transparent and clear for the team.

Each skill has a short description and a list of books, articles, and videos to become familiar with the topic.


I have used two approaches for evaluation: evidence-based scorecard assessment and individual assessment in a team workshop format.

Evidence-based scorecard assessment means having a table of all capabilities with rankings ranging from 0-4 and linking to the latest known internal project where the application of a skill was observed and evident.

Designer’s skill scorecard
Designer’s skill scorecard

The limitation of this approach was in leaving out all employees’ previous work experiences. But this also ensured that we had a proof of performance and the possibility to assess the skill level.

The team workshop format was the team’s public assessment of each other’s performance. This was fun and enabled discussion about skill definitions within the team. However, as some of the skills were assessed only by individuals based on their prior experiences before joining our team, it became subjective and impossible to check. Some of the evaluations turned out to be too pessimistic, and some did not meet the bar of requirements.

Skill matrix assessment workshop
Skill matrix assessment workshop

For now, I would opt for a mix of both: a table of skills with the individual’s assessment combined with the team’s and team lead’s evaluations, including projects. It is easier to guide each member’s growth for their and the organization’s benefit.


One of the approaches to staying up to date with the needed team capabilities is collecting input from the team. The most effective way is by asking each of them to think and prepare a list of skills on the following dimension.

  • What skills are necessary for you personally to acquire in the following year?
  • What capabilities must be developed within our team to stay relevant for the organization?
  • What competencies are missing from the organization that may be important in the following 2-3 years to stay in the competition?
  • What should you learn and develop to be a top performer in the industry?

After collecting the input, have a workshop with the team to review and update the current skill matrix. Keeping the organization’s goals and strategy in mind is essential, as some input may not be relevant. Similarly, removing skills that have become redundant is important. This is important to keep the team evolving and growth-focused.


As each team member’s tasks, interests, and tendencies are unique, the same applies to skills and capabilities. Collecting team feedback on each member’s performance makes assessing development needs more straightforward and less subjective. It helps the team lead set and agree on development plans. Skill dimensions (individual, team, organization, industry) are suitable for motivation and a clearer understanding of acceptable levels and how to evaluate this. OKR is one of the ways to nudge and track progress.