Ever work with someone who has the skill to do their role but doesn’t try?
It’s probably one of the most frustrating things a manager has to deal with because it just feels like a waste of energy.
Max Landsberg developed the skill vs will matrix to assist managers in deciding the best approach to develop their team.
The matrix helps you answers 2 simple but very important questions about the person you’re evaluating;
- How much can this person rely on their skill to complete the task?
- How much does that person really want to complete the task?
It’s important to note that this framework is not evaluating the person as a ‘whole’, it’s to look at their attitude and ability toward a specific task.
It can be very easy for us to categorise a person as either “good at their job” or “not good at their job”. Breaking down a role and evaluating your people in this way allows you to personalise your coaching and development approach.
Here’s a quick breakdown of each quadrant
Low Skill, Low Will (Direct) – This is a tricky combination. Your role as a manager is about taking charge and inspiring. ‘Direct’ implies clear guidelines, control and decision making. This is a time consuming place to be and should ideally only be temporary.
Low Skill, High Will (Guide) – I think of this one like a puppy, someone who is excited, keen, willing to learn, and wanting to make a good impression; this is often seen with a new recruit. ‘Guide’ implies coaching and supporting their actions, decisions, and progress, and channeling their enthusiasm.
High Skill, Low Will (Excite) – These are the frustrating ones where your job is mostly a motivational role because the skills are there, but you need to instil confidence and enthusiasm. Decision making is still very much your responsibility, but communication will be the key. The goal is to eventually increase Will and have them take charge.
High Skill, High Will (Delegate) – These are the superstars who seem the most straightforward to manage, the ones who we tend to give a lot of freedom to and only get involved when we need to (the ones we wish we could clone). These are also the ones who can accidentally fall into the ignored category for managers because they hum along and require very little day to day support. Don’t ignore them! You need to continue to challenge them, give them responsibility and stay engaged with them to maintain a high level of motivation, else they’re at flight risk if they don’t feel like they’re progressing.
Here’s how you can use this matrix right now
- Choose someone on your team and write down 5 tasks within their role
- Evaluate where they sit in the matrix (and why) for each task
- Identify any common themes for areas they are high or low on the matrix
- Identify what coaching approach is appropriate for their development in this task
E.g. If someone is high skill, low will for a task, consider why they are low will, what is it about the task that they don’t like? Identify similar tasks and consider their skill/will. Can the task be delegated to someone else? If not, have a conversation with that team member around their low will and ask what you can do to support them.
This is also a great matrix to use on yourself.
Consider your tasks, identify themes and come up with a coaching plan for yourself or with your manager.