Creating great skills

This article is for Project Leads, HR Business Partners and Function Leads.

This article covers the key components of a great skill and the different approaches to writing yours, whether you’re a Project Lead creating core skills for your whole organisation, or a Function Lead or HR Business Partner creating skills tailored to specific teams.

Skill overview

A skill in Progression is an ability, behaviour or competency required by a position or positions in a framework. Each skill includes three things — a description, skill levels and examples.

Here’s a reminder of what we mean by description, skill level and example, and some guidelines for them:

1. Description

The description acts as an overview of the skill, helping everyone understand it at a glance.

Aim for a description that’s one or two sentences in length – it should give the reader an ‘at a glance’ understanding of the skill.

2. Skill levels

Each skill has different skill levels, usually ranging from one to five and becoming more challenging and comprehensive the higher the level. Each position in the team should be assigned a level of a skill. Skill levels matter because they explain what’s expected of someone in their current position, and what they need to demonstrate to progress or move into another position.

You’ll need to add a brief description at each level of a skill. This should be one or two sentences long and written in the third person.

3. Examples

Each skill level has examples. These are the observable behaviours of a skill level, making them actionable and leaving far less room for interpretation.

We recommend starting with at least three examples per skill level, written in the second person.

Examples should be consistent across skill levels — for example, if you have a ‘Drives buying decisions’ example at level one of a skill, you should also have a ‘Drives buying decisions’ example at level five.

Bear in mind that, while more examples can help bring skills to life, it does make it harder to align the different levels and keep them consistent.

How to create skills in Progression

OK, so we’ve covered what a skill looks like, but how do you actually go about writing one? Whether you’re starting from scratch or repurposing something that lives elsewhere, the process couldn’t be easier with Progression.

Here’s four ways to create skills in Progression:

1. Repurposing something that lives elsewhere

Sometimes, organisations will come to us with a pre-existing framework and, more often than not, this content will live in a spreadsheet. If this is the case for you, talk to your Progression Onboarding Lead — they’ll help you get your content into a format we can upload into Progression, and show you how to improve it with a little help from our AI Build Assistant.

2. Using our AI Build Assistant

Speaking of which, we always recommend starting with AI if you’re writing from scratch. Simply open up the AI Build Assistant, add the skill name, skill type and a few example behaviours, and GPT will do the rest.

You can also use the AI Assistant to enhance existing content. Simply look out for the AI sparkle icon in skill descriptions, levels and examples — GPT can generate fresh content ideas in seconds, for you to accept, try again or tweak.

3. Using our Library

Alongside the AI Build Assistant, you can also repurpose skills from our extensive library. Just search for a skill, then add it to your framework. You have the option to edit the skill, which we’d definitely recommend doing to ensure it’s tailored to your team and organisation.

4. Writing from scratch

While we recommend using AI or our library of skills as the starting point for a new skill, you always have the option to create a new skill entirely from scratch too. We definitely view this as a last resort though!

💡 You can mix and match your approach to skill writing — for example, you might have a few skills already, then supplement them with some AI generated skills plus a few from the library. However you choose to build out your skills, remember to review the content and tailor it to your organisation before making it public.

Top tips to build better

You might be feeling daunted at the prospect of defining and creating the perfect set of skills that address everyone’s needs. But it’s a far better idea to get to MVP quickly, start using what you’ve got and iterate over time.

Here’s a set of MVP building principles that’ll help you get to something usable, fast.

Required skills at the core

There should be a group of core skills that everyone in your organisation is required to have, no matter their team, track or position. The Project Lead should define and create these skills, and the HRBPs and/or Function Leads should then create variants of them tailored to their teams’ needs. Having core skills not only drives consistency across frameworks, but also cuts down the number of skills HRBPs and Function Leads need to create from scratch.

No fluff

Start with essential skills only, and up to 12 for each position in a team. Any more can be overwhelming and make any process you implement longer for everyone.


Alongside core skills, try to share more technical skills across positions where you can — it’ll make it far easier to update and maintain them, and for employees to compare their position with another and see where they can go next.

Skills are like OKRs

Skills should have a description (the overarching objective) and examples (the key results). Don’t forget to include either, and make sure they’re realistic. You wouldn’t set OKRs that are completely unachievable, and it’ll only lead to frustration and ultimately disengagement from teams.

Keep it short

Skills should be co-owned. Don’t spend hours labouring over a first draft — get the basics down, then build out with your teams. They’ll be way more bought in because they’ve had a hand in creating the content. Do the opposite, and the skills (and your hard work) are far more likely to be rejected.