Skills Matrix Vs. Competency Matrix

A skills matrix is a framework that companies use to visualize the skills employees possess and the level at which they possess them. This framework is commonly used to determine what is required in a team to complete a project or task successfully.

What is a competency matrix?

A competency matrix is simply another name for a skills matrix.

While each matrix serves the same purpose irrespective of the name it is given, there do exist some differences between the way employee skills and competencies are defined.

Furthermore, for a skills matrix to be complete, both skills and competencies must be included.

In the next sections, we’ll define each term and how they contribute to organizational performance.

How are skills defined?

In the context of skills management, a skill is a learned ability that allows a person to proficiently perform or execute a particular task.

Another way to think of skills is that they clarify what a potential recruit can and cannot do.

Skills are said to be granular because they describe specific competencies such as:

  • C++. 
  • Data entry.
  • HTML. 
  • Programming, and
  • Quality assurance.

How are competencies defined?

While skills are specific and granular, competencies tend to be broader and are used to describe the capabilities of an organization’s workforce.

It is also important to note that multiple skills comprise a single competence.

Within competencies themselves exist three elements:


A measure of how well an employee can perform a particular skill.

In other words, can the employee apply the skill in a reasonable amount of time with a reasonable amount of energy?

Multiple abilities can form capabilities that, like competencies, are used to describe skills more broadly.


Information that is obtained and understood via study and experience.

Employees with knowledge can describe a subject in the absence of physical exposure to it via comprehension and memorization of facts.


A measure of an employee’s interest to perform, develop, and maintain competency in a skill.

Those with the ability and knowledge but without sufficient desire will find that their competency diminishes.

How can organizations benefit from competencies?

Tracking systems are used to monitor employee ability, knowledge, and desire to ensure the organization benefits from a certain level of competence.

To realize these benefits, the employee must be able to perform a skill (or group of skills) in a valid way. 

For example, the group of skills a HR manager must be competent in include:

  • Effective communication.
  • Proficiency in recruitment, onboarding, and payroll platforms.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Skills matrix creation and integration.
  • Conflict management, and
  • Soft interpersonal skills such as active listening, social awareness, and accountability.

How can organizations benefit from skills or competency matrices?

Organizations can also use these matrices to:

Determine if specific skills or competencies are missing

This will necessitate corrective action such as training of existing employees or recruitment of new employees.

Set clear job expectations

Skill and competency matrices set clear expectations around the attributes required for a specific role. This has implications for performance reviews and KPIs.

Improve employee engagement and motivation

Lastly, these matrices can be used to match employees with roles that suit their unique skill set. This results in motivated employees and happy customers.

Key takeaways:

  • There is no difference between a skills matrix and a competency matrix. Both serve as frameworks to analyze employee skill sets, identify skill gaps, improve employee engagement, and set clear job expectations.
  • The skills matrix does differentiate between skills and competencies, however. In short, skills are specific and granular abilities with multiple skills forming a single competency.
  • Competencies also tend to be broader than skills and are used to describe the capabilities of an organization’s workforce. To benefit from these competencies, organizations use tracking systems to monitor employee ability, knowledge, and desire.

Read Next: OKRSMART Goals.

Connected Leadership Concepts And Frameworks

Leadership Styles

Leadership styles encompass the behavioral qualities of a leader. These qualities are commonly used to direct, motivate, or manage groups of people. Some of the most recognized leadership styles include Autocratic, Democratic, or Laissez-Faire leadership styles.

Agile Leadership

Agile leadership is the embodiment of agile manifesto principles by a manager or management team. Agile leadership impacts two important levels of a business. The structural level defines the roles, responsibilities, and key performance indicators. The behavioral level describes the actions leaders exhibit to others based on agile principles. 

Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive leadership is a model used by leaders to help individuals adapt to complex or rapidly changing environments. Adaptive leadership is defined by three core components (precious or expendable, experimentation and smart risks, disciplined assessment). Growth occurs when an organization discards ineffective ways of operating. Then, active leaders implement new initiatives and monitor their impact.

Blue Ocean Leadership

Authors and strategy experts Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne developed the idea of blue ocean leadership. In the same way that Kim and Mauborgne’s blue ocean strategy enables companies to create uncontested market space, blue ocean leadership allows companies to benefit from unrealized employee talent and potential.

Delegative Leadership

Developed by business consultants Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey in the 1960s, delegative leadership is a leadership style where authority figures empower subordinates to exercise autonomy. For this reason, it is also called laissez-faire leadership. In some cases, this type of leadership can lead to increases in work quality and decision-making. In a few other cases, this type of leadership needs to be balanced out to prevent a lack of direction and cohesiveness of the team.

Distributed Leadership

Distributed leadership is based on the premise that leadership responsibilities and accountability are shared by those with the relevant skills or expertise so that the shared responsibility and accountability of multiple individuals within a workplace, bulds up as a fluid and emergent property (not controlled or held by one individual). Distributed leadership is based on eight hallmarks, or principles: shared responsibility, shared power, synergy, leadership capacity, organizational learning, equitable and ethical climate, democratic and investigative culture, and macro-community engagement.

Ethical Leadership

Ethical leaders adhere to certain values and beliefs irrespective of whether they are in the home or office. In essence, ethical leaders are motivated and guided by the inherent dignity and rights of other people.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is a style of leadership that motivates, encourages, and inspires employees to contribute to company growth. Leadership expert James McGregor Burns first described the concept of transformational leadership in a 1978 book entitled Leadership. Although Burns’ research was focused on political leaders, the term is also applicable for businesses and organizational psychology.

Leading by Example

Those who lead by example let their actions (and not their words) exemplify acceptable forms of behavior or conduct. In a manager-subordinate context, the intention of leading by example is for employees to emulate this behavior or conduct themselves.

Leader vs. Boss

A leader is someone within an organization who possesses the ability to influence and lead others by example. Leaders inspire, support, and encourage those beneath them and work continuously to achieve objectives. A boss is someone within an organization who gives direct orders to subordinates, tends to be autocratic, and prefers to be in control at all times.

Situational Leadership

Situational leadership is based on situational leadership theory. Developed by authors Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard in the late 1960s, the theory’s fundamental belief is that there is no single leadership style that is best for every situation. Situational leadership is based on the belief that no single leadership style is best. In other words, the best style depends on the situation at hand.

Succession Planning

Succession planning is a process that involves the identification and development of future leaders across all levels within a company. In essence, succession planning is a way for businesses to prepare for the future. The process ensures that when a key employee decides to leave, the company has someone else in the pipeline to fill their position.

Fiedler’s Contingency Model

Fielder’s contingency model argues no style of leadership is superior to the rest evaluated against three measures of situational control, including leader-member relations, task structure, and leader power level. In Fiedler’s contingency model, task-oriented leaders perform best in highly favorable and unfavorable circumstances. Relationship-oriented leaders perform best in situations that are moderately favorable but can improve their position by using superior interpersonal skills.

Management vs. Leadership


Cultural Models

In the context of an organization, cultural models are frameworks that define, shape, and influence corporate culture. Cultural models also provide some structure to a corporate culture that tends to be fluid and vulnerable to change. Once upon a time, most businesses utilized a hierarchical culture where various levels of management oversaw subordinates below them. Today, however, there exists a greater diversity in models as leaders realize the top-down approach is outdated in many industries and that success can be found elsewhere.

Action-Centered Leadership

Action-centered leadership defines leadership in the context of three interlocking areas of responsibility and concern. This framework is used by leaders in the management of teams, groups, and organizations. Developed in the 1960s and first published in 1973, action-centered leadership was revolutionary for its time because it believed leaders could learn the skills they needed to manage others effectively. Adair believed that effective leadership was exemplified by three overlapping circles (responsibilities): achieve the task, build and maintain the team, and develop the individual.

High-Performance Coaching

High-performance coaches work with individuals in personal and professional contexts to enable them to reach their full potential. While these sorts of coaches are commonly associated with sports, it should be noted that the act of coaching is a specific type of behavior that is also useful in business and leadership

Forms of Power

When most people are asked to define power, they think about the power a leader possesses as a function of their responsibility for subordinates. Others may think that power comes from the title or position this individual holds. 

Tipping Point Leadership

Tipping Point Leadership is a low-cost means of achieving a strategic shift in an organization by focusing on extremes. Here, the extremes may refer to small groups of people, acts, and activities that exert a disproportionate influence over business performance.

Vroom-Yetton Decision Model

The Vroom-Yetton decision model is a decision-making process based on situational leadership. According to this model, there are five decision-making styles guides group-based decision-making according to the situation at hand and the level of involvement of subordinates: Autocratic Type 1 (AI), Autocratic Type 2 (AII), Consultative Type 1 (CI), Consultative Type 2 (CII), Group-based Type 2 (GII).

Likert’s Management Systems

Likert’s management systems were developed by American social psychologist Rensis Likert. Likert’s management systems are a series of leadership theories based on the study of various organizational dynamics and characteristics. Likert proposed four systems of management, which can also be thought of as leadership styles: Exploitative authoritative, Benevolent authoritative, Consultative, Participative.

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