In 2018, almost 50% of Americans played the lottery. Consider this against the number of people on your team; is it a risk factor for your project? This is known as the «lottery factor»: it is a concept that represents the number of people working on a project, department, or team, that in case of winning the lottery (and immediately quitting their job), would jeopardize the future of the project. You might have also heard this concept referred to as the “bus factor”, but for positivity’s sake, we are only going to wish positive circumstances on our co-workers.
This risk, although it seems unlikely and very slim, should make us think about the distribution of knowledge, or how we manage the lack of knowledge shared in a team. How essential is a person on the project because he or she is the only one that possesses a certain type of knowledge or skill?
Do any of your team members take their computers on vacation because no one else knows how to do a job? Or has work on a project suddenly stopped because a team member was sick? There are thousands of examples of how not sharing knowledge can adversely affect a team – even if it is just short-term. What can we do to solve these situations and improve the management of team members?
Management 3.0 has a tool that can help us to better manage the team members (and their knowledge): The Competencies Matrix. This skills matrix is a visual representation and easy-to-use tool that will help in the management of talent and knowledge.
The preparation work for the development of competences begins by identifying gaps both in our individual professional experience and in the experience within our team.
First, identify the objectives. Then, work with the team to identify the necessary competencies, and plan how to meet these needs successfully. Start by categorizing, «What are we good at?». The following positions or profiles are recommended:
- Expert: I can teach it (Green)
- Practitioner: I can do it (Yellow)
- Novice: What is this? (Red)
It is useful to create 4 matrices (or separate the competences within the same matrix) using these four groups:
- Topics or Subjects
- Tools and Technologies
- Processes and Practices
- Soft Skills
Once the list of competences is created, identify how many of each profile (expert, practitioner, novice) is needed.
Finally, complete the Team Competency Matrix by identifying the potential contribution of each individual.
The visual elements of the matrix allow teams to quickly identify skill deficiencies and areas of improvement. The creation of the Team Competency Matrix is intended to be a group activity. The activity allows teams the opportunity to self-organize through open communication of objectives and needs. It can also be done by the team leader or manager at their discretion, but you lose the element of transparency, and team members cannot evaluate themselves.
It is a dynamic tool since over time, the necessary skills can change, or re-prioritization occurs. As teams develop new skills or improve the skills already represented in the matrix, be sure to update the Team Matrix to reflect this.
The outcomes of this tool can be used to:
- Account for the necessary skills needed to successfully complete a project before starting it.
- Identify the necessary team member profiles. Identifying your gaps will help make a decision to either train your existing team members or hire/bring in new team members.
- Design a training plan that aligns with the skill needed. The matrix will lend transparency for an improvement plan because it allows a simple visualization of the objective, the current state, and the future state.
Do not miss the opportunity to experiment with this tool or the benefits it can bring almost immediately!