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The Skill/Will Matrix: The Ultimate Guide

The skill/will matrix is a powerful tool for anyone looking to increase their productivity and effectiveness in any area. Assessing both your skills and willingness to do the job, can help create realistic goals for success, identify areas of improvement, and refine strategies for tackling tough tasks. 

The Skill/Will Matrix: The Ultimate Guide Skill/Will Matrix

Whether you are managing an organization or pursuing an individual challenge, this guide will show you how to effectively leverage the skill/will matrix to maximize performance and drive results. 

This comprehensive guide explains how to use the skill/will matrix, and it’s core concepts and provides practical advice on applying it successfully across a range of situations. So if you’re ready to become more successful in professional or personal pursuits, read on!

What is the Skill/Will Matrix?

Skill/Will Matrix developed by the Institute of Work Psychology at the University of Sheffield, is an innovative tool designed to help employers understand their workers on a deeper level. The model provides a four-part framework to analyze any type of skill, such as job-specific skills or interpersonal abilities. 

“Simply put, the skill/will matrix is a tool for categorizing performance issues based on whether they stem from a lack of ability (skill) or motivation (will).”

Skill Will Matrix

The skill/will matrix evaluates four key elements: current skill level, desired skill level, willingness/motivation for development, and growth potential. 

By assessing these criteria, individuals can gain insight into the strengths and weaknesses of their skillset and formulate strategies for continued improvement. This matrix enables a comprehensive approach to skill assessment empowering the individual with a greater understanding of their skillsets and a higher capacity for self-directed development.

By utilizing this model, managers can better ascertain their team’s skills and motivation to apply those skills or “will” to increase job performance. 

This matrix enables a comprehensive approach to skill assessment empowering the individual with a greater understanding of their skill sets and a higher capacity for self-directed development.

Skill vs Will

‘Skill’ is the level of expertise or competence needed to complete a task, while ‘Will’ refers more specifically to the ability and motivation for a sustained effort to complete the task at hand. Skill and will are equally important components in assessing individual performance, as both must be present to make lasting changes occur. 

The Skill/Will Matrix: The Ultimate Guide Skill/Will Matrix

For example, if someone has the Skill needed to bake a cake but does not possess any Will, they may never put in the necessary effort to create that cake. Therefore, it is important to understand how Skill vs Will affects one another to reach any potential goals.

The Skill-Will Matrix takes this idea even further by providing a helpful tool for determining how to proceed with any given action. This matrix evaluates how much skill and will are needed in any particular situation. 

When skill levels are high, it is necessary to focus on learning and delivering the action itself. Check out this article on the complete guide to the skill/will matrix which proved to be helpful for me.

When will is considered more significant than skill, however, amp up motivation and commitment might be key for carrying out the intended outcome. Therefore, skill vs will play an incredibly important role in decision-making processes in all areas of our lives.

How Does the Skill/Will Matrix Work

The skill/will matrix is a powerful tool for career and life planning. It provides an actionable framework for identifying key skills, strengths, and qualities that can lead to greater satisfaction and success in both professional and personal life. By assessing an individual’s current circumstance and collaboratively creating goals, the skill/will matrix enables the development of a personalized, achievable plan. 

Furthermore, the skill/will matrix provides a visual representation of one’s progress by plotting milestones on grid lines that monitor growth along each skill dimension. With Skill Will Matrix one can unlock deeper levels of clarity and confidence as one unfold their individualized success roadmap.

It begins with an online survey that measures a person’s traits about the skill/will matrix categories – willingness, competitiveness, enthusiasm, and responsibility. Once a person has taken the assessment, an algorithm analyses their results to determine which control type they fit most closely. That data is then used to create tailored recommendations based on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses, suggesting pathways that may be beneficial in helping them progress through their career or educational goals.

Evaluating an Employee with Skill Will Matrix

The Skill Will Matrix is a great tool for evaluating an employee’s job performance. By assessing their skills and will, the manager can gauge their overall potential in any given role. This can help the manager make informed decisions related to promotion and career growth, as well as help with recruitment activities. Skill/will matrices allow managers to objectively assess an employee’s motivation, enthusiasm, and commitment level. 

The skill/will matrix uses a systematic approach that allows employees to identify their strengths and weaknesses, set goals for themselves, and adjust their priorities. skill/will matrix outlines the skill sets that are needed for an employee to succeed in their current job and then examines those skills over time to identify any gaps or weaknesses in their performance. 

Employers have been recognizing the Skill Will Matrix as an effective way to evaluate employee performance and keep track of progress. It also helps employees set goals, align with corporate objectives and develop effective career plans. 

Skill Will Matrix gives employers a comprehensive understanding of their team’s strengths, making it easier to assess training needs or assign special projects or tasks that fit employees’ competencies.

Furthermore, skill/will matrices are particularly useful in determining future leadership potential in employees. The skill/will matrix has proven to be an effective management tool for years and is sure to continue aiding effective management far into the future.

Benefits of Skill/Will Matrix

Skill/will matrices are a powerful tool that allows organizations to assess their employees and the value they bring to the table. The top three valuable benefits of skill/will matrices that I found are listed below!

1. Evaluating an Employee’s Skill Set

By evaluating an employee’s skill set and will in certain areas, Skill/will matrices can provide valuable insights for businesses to help them allocate resources to meet their current goals. 

Skill/will matrices are used in almost every type of organization, from manufacturing plants to non-profits, as they provide a clear understanding of how each individual fits into the larger corporate strategy. 

2. Alignment between Employees and the Organization’s Mission

The benefits of Skill Will Matrices include improved employee performance, increased efficiency, alignment between employees and the overall mission of an organization, and cost savings through appropriate resource reallocation. 

Skill/will matrices offer an effective and efficient way for business owners to recognize human resources issues before they become a problem, helping business owners make informed decisions about staff management, development, and training opportunities.

3. Analyze Employee Behavior

The skill/will matrix has been used since the early 2000s by companies to identify and analyze employee behavior, motivation, and competency. This matrix helps organizations understand their employees’ abilities and weaknesses, plan appropriate initiatives with goals that meet their individual needs, and shape cultures based on their aspirations. 

The skill/will matrix allows businesses to personalize their development process for employees, curate an experience that is tailored to each individual’s unique situation, and create a more engaging working experience overall. 

Additionally, it helps identify successful strategies for succession planning: the skill/will matrix allows businesses to recognize valuable skills in existing employees that can be used to fill upcoming vacancies in key positions. 

The skill/will matrix is a powerful tool for employers looking to optimize team performance, improve job satisfaction and drive organizational success.

Examples Of The Skill/Will Matrix In Action

The skill/will matrix is a tool used to assess an individual’s competency and motivation for a task. Examples of its application include identifying training needs for employees, delegating tasks based on skill level, and determining coaching strategies for team members.

The skill/will matrix power lies in helping individuals identify the skills they need, their current levels of aptitude in these skills, and their motivation or ‘will’ to develop them further. 

For example, business leaders can use it to gauge employee ability across five categories: tech knowledge, interpersonal competence, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving. 

Similarly, salespeople can use the Skill Will Matrix to quickly size up customers based on product knowledge and sales strategy interests. Making Skill Will Matrices for multiple positions or people can help optimize performance in any organization – ultimately leading to a happier and more productive team.

Case 1 – High Will, Low Skill

Within the skill/will matrix, high-will, low-skill is one of many examples that demonstrate how individual successes and levels of achievement can be better understood by breaking them down into two major components. 

This particular example highlights those who demonstrate a great deal of ambition and drive but lack the necessary skills to turn their ambitions into reality or make their dreams come true. 

While undoubtedly this can be disheartening for those individuals, it does serve a purpose as part of the skill/will matrix; firstly to recognize that their ambition is commendable. Secondly allowing them to receive mentorship or education to equip themselves with the skills needed to match ambition with action.

Case 2 – High Will, High Skill

Case 2 – High Will, High Skill provides an example of how the skill/will matrix can create a productive and successful working environment. High will, and high skill describes a situation where employees have the enthusiasm, willingness, and skill needed to approach tasks enthusiastically and successfully. 

With this level of commitment and capability, organizations can more efficiently accomplish goals thanks to their employees’ initiative and proficiency. Developing employees with a high will, and high skills are possible through training that supports growth in technical knowledge as well as creating an atmosphere of positivity and engagement. Identifying employees with just the right amount of drive and knowledge allows the organization to best utilize its resources for success.

Case 3 – Low will, Low Skill

Case 3, low will, low skill, clearly illustrates the time and energy needed to get the job done. With a low level of both Will and Skill, the focus may have to shift from developing skills to motivating them to engage in the task at hand. 

Success in these cases can come from setting clear, achievable goals that allow for incremental progress or recognition for efforts made. The Skill Will Matrix provides another way of approaching seemingly difficult tasks and is a tool for managers who need an extra tool in their back pocket when motivation falls flat and team members appear stuck.

Case 4 – Low Will, High Skill

Case 4 is a great example of how this tool can be utilized in real-world situations; Low Will and High Skill workers may display similar performance outcomes but will have different drivers for completing their assignments. Low Will workers tend to be unmotivated and need external coaching or motivation, while High Skill workers are more intrinsically motivated and require less supervision to ensure the job is done effectively. 

Low-will, high-skill scenario typically occurs when there is a low level of motivation and ambition despite high levels of knowledge or skill within an individual. Such circumstances may lead to inconsistent performance as the lack of will leave them unable to consistently apply their skills over protracted periods which can often result in lapses or lack of progress. 


You can use the skill/will matrix to help you identify which areas you need to focus on to improve your performance. If you have a low score in an area, that means you have the potential to improve in that area. 

However, if you have a high score in an area, that means you’re already doing well in that area and don’t need to focus on it as much. The Skill / Will matrix is a valuable tool that can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses so that you can direct your efforts accordingly.

If you can find the root cause of performance issues, you can take steps to improve them. The skill/will matrix is a great tool for analyzing those root causes and devising an improvement plan. We hope this guide has helped explain how the matrix works and how you can use it to solve problems in your organization. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is the Skill/Will Matrix important?

Skill Will matrix is important because:

The matrix also serves as an effective assessment tool, allowing teams and employers to understand their competencies and areas where they need extra support. 

Skill will matrix ensures that employees have access to the resources they need to develop their career paths, helping them increase their skillset, build relationships with colleagues, stay motivated and grow professionally.

Skill Will Matrix creates a culture of learning and development, in which employees can achieve their long-term personal success while contributing to the success of their organization.

What are the four quadrants in the Skill/Will Matrix?

The skill/will matrix divides skills and stretch-level objects into four quadrants: Low Skill/High Will, High Skill/Low Will, Low Skill/Low Will, and High Skill/High Will. 

The first quadrant includes employees with a high desire but low skill level in a certain task or job; this is the ideal situation for providing on-the-job training or encouraging professional development courses. 

The second quadrant displays those who are proficient with their job duties but lack the motivation to learn new things; these workers should be provided with more meaningful tasks that keep them engaged in their work. 

Lastly, the third and fourth quadrants represent employees who have both a high skill set and a strong desire to learn as well as those who have low engagement in both skills and learning; when these situations arise it’s time for management intervention to maximize worker effectiveness and efficiency.