Discover your team’s competences

Today I want to share with you the use of a Management 3.0 “Team Competence Matrix” practice which allows you to identify the competencies you have in your teams. The exercise begins by understanding the aims you need to achieve in your product/service. Once you have identified them, start by creating the Matrix including all the necessary competencies to fulfill the project’s requirements.

Try splitting them by categories:

  • Topics and Subject Matter
  • Tools and Technologies
  • Processes and Practices
  • Soft Skills

You should also include the number of people required for each competency with the level required.

To establish the levels of competence, you can use the following classification, or establish with your team one alike:

  • Novice: What does this mean? It can be represented by the color red
  • Practitioner: I can do it. It can be represented with the color Yellow
  • Expert. I can teach it. You can represent it with Green

If you are the head of a department, a manager or have a similar role, you can create the Competency Matrix at your discretion as well as create it together with your entire team.

Creating the Matrix among all your team in a self-organized way will allow you to have a very meaningful conversation, analyzing the necessary competencies required and completing the matrix with the current skills you have in the team. By doing this, everyone will feel part of his/her creation and will allow a personal reflection on the competences and interests of each one.

Achieving the objectives of a project requires the organization to promote a continuous learning environment and contribute to the development of people’s competences.

It is important when you are creating the matrix, keep in mind if there is any particular condition in your organization. For example the number of shifts, distributed teams, guards, reduction of working hours, type of service, etc. These conditions influence the number of people needed.

I did this practice in a scrum team that had been working together for 1 year, they were developing new functionalities that demanded new competences. I considered it appropriate to reflect on the current and required competencies to identify steps to be taken. I applied it in the following way:

  • I gathered the entire team
  • We identified all the competencies required to develop the functionalities and objectives of the project
  • We identified the number of people required for each competence
  • We agreed on the levels of expertise (Novice, Practitioner, Expert). The team decided to include a new level that indicates when one person is interested in expanding their knowledge in that competency
  • Each person established their level of knowledge in each competence

After finishing the Competency Matrix, we began a conversation reflecting the current situation and identifying action plans.

 This practice allows you to obtain the following benefits in your organization:

  • Define training plans needed for the teams.
  • Detect interests and contribute to the professional growth of each person, aligned with the project.
  • Identify people who by their knowledge can support others, either by their interest in learning or by their knowledge on a specific subject.
  • Identify skills that exist within the team that were not being valued.
  • Promote collaboration with other areas, exchanging existing knowledge.
  • Schedule sharing knowledge sessions, where an expert explains his domain area to those interested
  • Detect if you currently have enough people to achieve your goals. 
  • Collaboration with People in the hiring process, having the necessary competences as a guide.

When I have applied this practice, it has worked very well, always generating a conversation between the team members commenting on their current competencies and those they want to develop and this has led to define improvement actions easy to implement and at very low cost. The most frequent actions are:

  • Carrying out weekly sessions to share knowledge, where a person from the team with a high level of expertise explains his or her area of expertise to the interested parties
  • Define necessary training plans for the team, with people outside the team
  • Detect if there are currently enough people to meet the objectives and collaborate with HR when hiring people, having as a guide the necessary competences

Most of the improvement actions are always carried out, the hiring of new people or training plans with external groups take time to achieve, however, they are achieved. Knowledge sharing sessions were held immediately, the team self-organized and carried them out. At times of heavy workloads, they are stopped and resumed when the team deems it appropriate.

This dynamic exercise can be updated in the medium run. The objectives can be re-prioritized, goals can be changed and people’s competencies too.

I recommend carrying it out and placing the “Knowledge Matrix” in a visible place near your work teams. In each update, you will be able to visualize the improvements and progress of your teams. It is important to put the agreed actions visible on the panels so that the team can follow up.

You can also use the Team Competency Matrix for your remote team. Download this template (.xlsx) and work on this together via a Google Documents.

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