What is a training matrix? (Definition, benefits and tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 15 June 2022

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Knowing a team's experience and skills can assist human resource professionals and managers in determining how to assign duties effectively and productively. You can use the training matrix technique to familiarise yourself with each team member's skill set and highlight areas for development. This helps employees become more effective in their profession. In this article, we answer the question 'What is a training matrix?', review why you might use one, discuss its benefits and share tips to help you create one.

What is a training matrix?

Learning the answer to the question 'What is a training matrix?' can help you understand how to develop and use this tool effectively. A training matrix is a human resource tool that typically shows each employee's skill set and certifications, which may be current, expiring or obsolete. If you're responsible for managing personnel, a training matrix is a useful tool. Health and safety supervisors, knowledge managers, group leaders and operation managers can easily identify skills or training gaps. A training matrix also helps you recognise which employees possess the skills to perform various roles in the company.

Related: Types of employee training programmes (with benefits)

Why use a training matrix?

A training matrix allows you to design a more effective strategy for allocating employees to the most suitable roles according to their skills and experience. The matrix notifies you when an employee's licence or certification is about to expire so they can renew their credentials on time. There are two main types of training matrices:

  • Skills-training matrix: Skill-training matrices show employees' skills and certifications, including the validity period of the certification and expiry dates.

  • Cross-training matrix: Businesses with employees who typically fulfil tasks outside of their usual roles use cross-training matrices. This tool is common in manufacturing industries where they ensure at least one employee has production process skills.

A matrix typically includes the abilities you require to complete a project, skills to develop in the team and those they already have. You can divide the matrix into various jobs in a project, or you might include everything necessary to deliver each element of the project. You can assign each team member a rating based on their current expertise and desire to acquire or use a particular skill. This enables you to appropriately allocate jobs to team members to accomplish the work successfully.

Related: 12 on-the-job training advantages when starting a new role

What are the benefits of maintaining a training matrix?

Here are some benefits of creating and maintaining a training matrix in an organisation:

Team members' awareness of their strengths

A training matrix shows team members the skills to focus on and helps them recognise the skills they already have. When team members are aware of their skills, they can readily accept additional responsibilities and challenges. They can manage expectations and fulfil their roles efficiently when they're aware of their capabilities.

Streamline recruitment and hiring

Maintaining a training matrix can help you determine who and when to hire. A training matrix highlights any skill gaps so companies can understand where to develop internal competencies. In some circumstances, hiring externally may be the solution. An added benefit of a training matrix is that you can clearly tailor the job advertisement to a company's internal requirements, which helps to attract suitable candidates.

Related: 10 methods to improve employee development in the workplace

Workforce planning

A training matrix can be a valuable tool for planning the necessary workforce to manage a project. By visualising the current skills mix, a project manager can evaluate if the workforce matches the client brief. Using this information, the manager can determine whether to train, hire or outsource some project activities to deliver value to their clients.

Identifying mentors and coaches

A training matrix that correlates all employees in a department or a business unit can be a significant tool for identifying mentors and coaches. The matrix displays areas in which employees are most comfortable and skilled, so a junior employee or intern can easily identify a prospective mentor. This may involve recognising the employee with the relevant qualification, experience or skills according to the matrix scores. They can then approach them to seek help in mastering a specific aspect of the work or charting a viable career path.

Peak planning and identifying qualified replacements

Companies require planning for employees who are absent due to sick, parental or planned annual leave. You can then react quickly and effectively to maintain continuous productivity during these periods. A training matrix is helpful for finding a replacement with the requisite skills to cover absenteeism. This tool can also guide decision-makers to increase staff levels ahead of peak production by moving qualified employees between departments.

Related: Areas for improvement to help with employee performance

Progress monitoring

A training matrix gives you a good understanding of how far you've advanced as a unit and as an individual. Professional growth, efficiency, and mastered skills are significant organisational challenges. Developing a training matrix can help you evaluate the performance of your training programmes. You can identify which training methods are most effective and which trainers impact your team. Frequent evaluation also enables you to continually identify areas where any apparent gaps still exist or are emerging.

Retention of top talents

Most organisations include talented employees or key players with specialist skills who you want to retain. A training matrix helps you easily identify these individuals and see their skills and qualifications.

You can then track their development and satisfaction in their roles. It helps you determine which employees merit promotion or other forms of recognition.

Enhanced role clarity

Training matrices enable employees to comprehensively understand their roles and responsibilities. They can also discover opportunities for professional development and what they can do to further their careers. Providing employees with a clear knowledge of the value they bring to an organisation can help to improve employee motivation and morale.

Related: What is employee happiness? Plus importance and tips

Increased transparency

Transparency is another advantage of a training matrix. Transparency entails knowing individuals' characteristics and capabilities plus team competencies. Openness ensures everybody can see how they fit in an organisation and what it requires to execute team functions to their maximum potential. Transparency of everyone's skills and abilities is beneficial to the whole company.

Harmonious workplace

Training matrices can forecast and mitigate extensive workloads if a team member is absent for an extended period. You can use a matrix to identify skills and proactively shift resources to keep workloads under control. This helps to maintain a relaxed and productive working environment.

Tips for creating a training matrix

Here are key tips to guide you when creating a training matrix:

Assess the training requirements for existing employees and new recruits

If you're creating a training matrix from the start, it's important to begin with a training needs assessment and employee professional development plans. If you're updating an existing training matrix, you can review skills and competencies. You can evaluate employees' abilities by asking them about their skill proficiency or performing competency testing.

Related: What is a training needs analysis and why is it useful?

Add and rate employees

The next step is adding every employee to the training matrix. List all employees in rows. Add columns for criteria such as department, roles, employee identification and skills-rating value. Rate each team member's interest in either using a talent they already have or gaining a new skill. This helps keep motivation high if employees enjoy their work. For this phase, you can simply ask employees to rate their level of interest in each skill.

Indicate training information

List training programmes that are on offer and include details such as onboarding sessions for new recruits, compliance workshops and training providers. You can also include activities such as mentoring and coaching. You can refer to the company development plan to help you identify any training requirements.

Divide the training programme into distinct topics

After assigning training programmes to employees, you can then separate the course into modules. This helps you to quickly track each employee's success or development. You can use visual aids or create a list to monitor the number of topics the employees cover.

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