How to work out how many skills your framework needs

How to work out how many skills your framework needs

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guidemanaging a team

This guide covers:

  • Why there isn’t a one size fits all approach to the number of skills in a framework
  • How to work out the number of skills your framework needs
  • How to cut down skills in an existing framework

This guide is for:

  • Managers responsible for building their team’s progression framework
  • HR teams creating progression frameworks for their organisation.

So, you’ve worked out you need to build a framework for your team. You’ve searched for frameworks online, taken a look through the frameworks in our library, even started to build out the positions in your team. Great.

But now you’ve hit a roadblock — skills. How many skills should your framework have?

It’s the number one question we’re asked here at Progression. And for good reason. The number can vary wildly. You’ll find some examples with more than forty skills, and others with just five. Neither sounds right.

Don’t worry though. In this guide, we’ll outline how you can work out the skills sweet spot for your framework.

There isn’t a one size fits all approach

The skills you’re expecting your team to develop for progression must be realistic. But that reality can differ vastly from role to role.

Here’s why:

  • The time it takes to upskill in a role and move up the ladder can differ
  • The number and breadth of skills you need to track will depend on the type of role
  • Team members starting out in their career may need to work on more skills than others who’ve been in a role for a while
  • After using the framework, you might realise that the number of skills you’ve included is overwhelming.

How to work out the number of skills your framework needs

Work out the number of skills your framework needs by asking yourself these questions:

  • How many skills can your team members realistically focus on at any one time?

Generally, this will be between two and three per quarter, but it may be one or two more depending on the nature of the role.

  • How long do you expect it to take for your team members to grow all of the skills in their role?

If you expect them to move up the ladder into a new role after a year, and you think they’ll be able to focus on three skills per quarter, that’s 12 skills in total. Break that down equally by category (Human, Leadership and Craft), and that’s four skills each.

If you expect your team members to upskill their role in two years though, you’ve got a little more wiggle room — you might decide they need six months to focus on three skills, or that you want to up the total number of skills.

Bear in mind though, if you have too many skills in your framework, your team is more likely to feel overwhelmed and less likely to engage.

  • Which skills do you need to track, and which ones will develop naturally over time?

It’s really important to separate the two. That’s because you’ll most likely have some skills that are essential to progression, and others that will tick along nicely in the background developing naturally as part of the team member’s everyday role.

In your framework, you want to focus on the skills that contribute directly to progression for your team, and nothing else. This way you can keep your framework focused and impactful, and avoid overwhelming and disengaging your team.

I’ve already built my framework, with a lot of skills

If you’ve got positions in your framework with more than 15 skills, you’ll want to revisit it and see where you can cut down. Ask yourself whether your team member would still be doing their job if a skill wasn’t there. If the answer’s yes, cut it.

Remember, your framework should be a product not a project — it’s going to change over time. Don’t be afraid to roll something out and iterate later. It’s a lot harder to remove skills than add them, so start with the minimum and ask your team if there’s anything missing that they’d like to track.


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