Skill and Will

Using the Skill Will Matrix

The Skill Will matrix is used to identify the person’s combination of skill level and willingness to accomplish a specific task. Knowledge of a person’s skill and will levels can assist you in creating a plan of action to help them to achieve the desired results.

Will is an individual’s desire to complete a particular task based on attitude, incentives, confidence, and personal feelings about completing the task. People have many different motivations for completing a task. Some may do it for money, others for recognition, and others may just do it for personal satisfaction.

Skill is an individual’s capability or proficiency to complete a specific task. People have different skill levels when it comes to completing a specific task. People’s level of skill can often depend on their experience and familiarity with the task, training, understanding, or natural abilities.



Assessing Skill and Will

People’s skill and will levels vary depending on several different factors. By plotting an individual’s levels along a scale from low to high can help you determine what techniques you can employ to manage that individual to success.

The goal is to help the person attain both a high skill level and a high will level.



Causes of Deficiency

There may be several different reasons why a person lacks the necessary skills or the will to perform a task.

A person may have a low skill level if:

  • it is a new task
  • they do not have the necessary knowledge
  • they have not receive the proper training
  • they do not have enough experience with the task
  • they do not understand what is expected


A person may have a low will level if:

  • there are no incentives to accomplish the task
  • There is no personal satisfaction
  • The task is boring or mundane
  • Low self-confidence
  • They do not receive the proper recognition for accomplishing the task



Completing an Assessment

Step one: Determine his or her skill level.

  1. Determine if he or she has experience, training, and/or knowledge.
  2. Determine if his or her skill level is high, low, or somewhere in between


Step two: Determine his or her willingness level

  1. Determine if he or she has the desire to accomplish the task
  2. Determine if there are any incentives for accomplishing the task
  3. Determine if his or her will level is high, low, or somewhere in between



Creating the Matrix

By assessing a person’s skill and will, you are able to plot them on a graph. One dimension is skill, the other is will.

Skill will

A person may really want to accomplish a specific task, but unfortunately he or she may not have the knowledge or training to do so. On the other axis is a person’s willingness or desire to perform a particular task. A person may be extremely skilled at a task, but lack the motivation to complete it.

Based on the assessment of an individual’s skills and willingness to perform, you can choose how to best manage or coach him or her towards success.




The basic Skill Will matrix is divided into quadrants. Depending on the combination of ability and willingness to perform a task, individuals fall in one of the quadrants on the matrix. Some Skill Will models will have more than four divisions.

Skill will Matrix

Determining the Type

Depending on where they fall on the graph, a person will fall within one of four categories.

  • Shining star
  • Novice
  • Coaster
  • Problem Child


Shining Stara person who has both skill and will to perform the task. This is often an experienced person who is looking for more opportunities to grow and develop new skills.


Novicea person who has the desire to complete the task, but lacks the necessary skills. Typically this is a person new to a particular task who is enthusiastic, but lacks the skills or knowledge needed.


Coastera person who has the skill and ability, but not the will or motivation to complete the task. This is often a skilled, experienced person who may have hit a plateau and needs a new challenge.


Problem Childa person who has neither the skill set nor the will to complete the task. This is often a person who has started a new task that they did not desire.   However, this may also be a beginner to a task who has low confidence and who is afraid to fail.



Management and Techniques

The Skill Will Matrix is a guide to choosing the best management or coaching style to guide others to success. The matrix allows you to understand different types of individuals and apply specific techniques that help them perform better. The matrix helps you match a person’s combination of skill level and willingness to four different management or coaching styles.


Skill and Will



The goal of this style is to empower and stretch them. This group has the necessary skills, so find opportunities to help him or her grow and develop more skills.



With this style, take advantage of his or her motivation and invest time early on in building their skills. Provide the proper training and create a risk-free environment to allow for learning.



When dealing with this group, identify the reason(s) for his or her low motivation, and find incentives to motivate him or her. Create both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and incentives.



With this group, you will need to build both skill and will. First, identify the reason(s) for the low motivation. Foster his or her desire to complete the task before building skill sets by creating both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Then provide the proper training and support.



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