A while back I posted on UX Core Competencies, visualized through a radar chart, to show potential gaps individually and within a team for upskilling opportunity through practice or training.

So that’s old news, what have you done for me lately? At Q2 I have been working on design team maturity, and implemented this Design Skills framework. Here’s what we did.

First, alignment on what core skills, soft skills, and leadership skills were necessary for success in our organization. Core Skills were defined in our career ladder; collected Soft Skills for design from a number of blog posts, articles, this presentation from Steve Portigal, and work from Peter Merholz on levels. As a team we discussed and ideated on the list, then voted and ranked those to pick which best suited our culture. Q2 Learning & Development also had a leadership skills plan we drew from.

From that list, we surveyed our team as well as our peers in product development. This gave us a ranking of the relative importance of each skill, how we align, and how we meet expectations.

UX team (left) and Product leaders ranking of Core UX Skills

Next, I surveyed the UX team to self- and peer-evaluate on the three buckets of skills, using this scale:

  1. Awareness: You are aware of the competency but are unable to perform tasks.
  2. Novice (limited proficiency): You understand and can discuss terminology.
  3. Intermediate proficiency: You have applied this skill to situations occasionally without needing guidance.
  4. Advanced proficiency: You can coach others in the application by explaining related nuances.
  5. Expert: You have demonstrated consistent excellence across multiple projects.

The Qualtrics ‘Loop and Merge’ made this easy–add a list of names and it cycled the three questions through those names. I also added an item for the peer ratings to assess how well they knew the designer’s work. This opted out of the rating if they didn’t work with that designer (several new hires). As we continue the ratings we expect to learn more about each other as designers.

The next step was to put the data into a manageable format. I created this spreadsheet, adding a radar chart graph to get a snapshot of how each designer’s self and peer assessment matched up:

So each designer got an idea of their skill set and how they were viewed, as an opportunity to pick training or practice to upskill. As part of this project was the skill learning, each designer selected a skill they wanted to improve, or had particular experience with, to present back to the team. A ‘train the trainer’ approach, identifying internal training, LinkedIn learning courses, Safari books, third party courses, web links, articles, papers, etc.

Ultimately this also helps to identify gaps and overlaps on the team to consider when hiring:

Design Skills for Teams

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