Why Defining Skills Is Refining Skills: How to Bolster Your Training Tracking Software with a Skills Matrix

Buying a training tracking software is one thing, but knowing what to do with it is another! Customers usually buy Lessonly’s training management software with a few initiatives in mind, such as standardizing company onboarding, training on a new product, or building asynchronous department-specific training. These are all fantastic initiatives to tackle initially, but over time, it may become harder to identify what gaps exist and what training to prioritize next. 

To help track progress and recognize gaps, some may use Excel spreadsheet templates for tracking while others might use an employee training tracker of some sort. Training tracker Excel files or a good ol’ staff training spreadsheet both can work, but it’s often difficult to tie training progress to results and ultimately, metrics that the company compares about. Enter a skill matrix.

Hello, skills matrices 👋

A skills matrix is a tool used to identify the functional skills necessary for individual contributors to succeed in their role. You can think of these skills as the abilities and knowledge needed to perform specific tasks. This matrix will probably outline skills that the team already possesses, in addition to skills that need to be developed. 

The best skills matrices also tie skills to key performance indicators, or KPIs. Tying skills to metrics allows teams to map the everyday activities and behaviors necessary to move the needle on their larger business initiatives and goals. For example, your sales team cares about the KPI of win rate. If you think about it, there are a handful of key sales skills that can be tied to win rate like objection handling, differentiating the competition, and negotiating. If you are able to impact any of those skills, you will most likely move the needle when it comes to win rate.

So, where do I start?

At this point, you may be wondering how to create a skills matrix. For starters, a skills matrix should be tied to a specific role in your organization, so pick one! From there, gather the right stakeholders. This will most likely be the managers of that role, with enablement leaders and C-suite individuals potentially in the mix as well. Once together, determine the three to five KPIs that matter most to that role or team, along with the skills that impact those KPIs. Be careful that you are choosing skills, not activities. (Back to the sales example, “Closing” is not a skill; it is an activity. But negotiating and handling objections? Those are all skills involved in closing that can be trained on and evaluated.)

After your skills are identified, document what good—and bad—looks like. If you’re using a scale of 1-5 for evaluation, what constitutes a 1 in that skill? What about a 3 and 5? Clearly documenting a grading rubric makes it easy to evaluate all of the skills that you have selected. From there, you can create both manager and self-assessment surveys to gather information about where an individual stands for the skills in your matrix. 

Maturing your skills matrices

While the surveys are a simple first step, you can continue to build on your skills matrix. What other measurement criteria do you want to incorporate to obtain a comprehensive assessment of a given skill? Do you want to include scores from a call review? Scores obtained from an employee training record? Metrics or data that you care about every quarter? Identifying your measurement criteria—and how you want those criteria to be weighted—can take your skills matrix to the next level.

It may sound daunting, but a skills matrix will help you bridge the gap between training and performance. With a defined skills matrix, your training tracking spreadsheet or training matrix excel file becomes one piece of a larger puzzle that considers inputs from surveys to training data to metrics. 

Oppositely, a skills matrix should not replace a learning and development software; rather, it should supplement it. Once you evaluate your learners on the skills necessary to do their job, you will begin to recognize trends and identify areas of opportunity for training. Instead of guessing what training you should deploy next, you will have a clear understanding of what training will impact the team and the company the most, with data to back you up.

And maybe you haven’t started at all when it comes to deploying or tracking training. That’s OK! Start with a free certification tracking software or something more robust like Lessonly. Begin the journey of training with an effective learning management software, but consider building out a skills matrix that can supplement your work from the get-go. It’s hard to attribute success in a role to training, but leveraging a skills matrix with a training tracking software can help you do just that.


Lessonly is the training tracking software 1,000+ teams pick

Our powerfully simple training software enables teams like yours to learn, practice, and ultimately perform in their roles–no matter what skills or knowledge is needed. To level up how you enable your team with skills, click on any of the tile below. Our latest report, Practice = Revenue, is a great place to start if you want to see how other teams are empowering their employees with skill development and practice.

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