Role-related skills - do an inventory

Identify and profile skills as a start point for doing i-GROW work

Higher Education organisations are employers of possibly the most diverse workforces in the employment landscape. The role related skills honeycomb helps name and visualise the skills areas or clusters or work related activity that make up the roles that Brookes staff occupy. 

role related skills image

role related skills diagram



The cell names follow the current national skills sector council categories or national occupational themes. You will probably immediately identify the skills area that most relates to your role, though – on further reflection – you will see that your role will consist of a combination of skills areas.







Now do STEP 1 –

  • download a skills coaching wheel template (Word doc 574KB)
  • consider your current job and decide which skills you currently use in your role
  • enter the skills set names in the cells

Reflection point:

This step gives you a quick picture of your current skills inventory and has already got you thinking about other skills strands than meet the eye in your formal job title.  The simple profile sets the scene for development by providing you with a starting point for thought and discussion. For example, you can talk your picture through with your manager or team and “reality check” for the components of your job. Here, for example, is the inventory that an administrator came up with after filling one cell with “administration” then talking with her line-manager -

  • Customer services
  • Advising and guiding
  • IT use
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Finance – bookkeeping
  • Managing (team leading, project managing)
  • Marketing

Naming your skillsets help you to see that a job that you felt may have been defined by one or two skills actually comprises more. Separating your role into strands can help you articulate which strand you want to focus on, research and develop. Try numbering the cells in a preference order, or a priority-for-development order – this order can in turn be based on what you “like/want” or what you think ”might be best for you in the current context and circumstances”.

Also try STEP 1A

  • take your skills coaching wheel
  • fill further blank cells with skills you have but don’t use in your current job

Reflection point:

The revised wheel gives a more holistic picture of what you are already partly or fully equipped to do. You can use this version to start to consider whether you want to concentrate your development on the skills you use in your current job, whether you want to integrate these additional skills into your current job, or whether you want to consider a new role and develop towards that.

It is easy to see a job role in a fixed way and in terms of a dominant skillset only: in many ways it’s encouraged by market forces and wage structures and these can’t be ignored. However, for the purposes of career development it is reasonable and important to start to acknowledge the submerged skills in each role profile, and other aspects of your experience, as well as to maintain and develop the dominant skillssets. It will give you a rich vein to explore in terms of development, and increase your mobility within your occupational zone and across to others.

Now do STEP 2

  • take your skills coaching wheel and note the rating system 0-9 indicated by the concentric circles
  • for each skill that you want to develop, rate your current experience of it on the 0-9 scale  - join up the dots
  • for each skill you want to develop, rate where you want to stretch it to on the 0-9 scale – join up the dots

Reflection point:

The first wheel or inner wheel represents your current position. The  second, or outer, wheel represents your developed position.  The “gap” between the two represents the distance you want to travel. It is this territory that you need to explore and fill with practical ways to enhance what you have. Use this picture to involve other parties (managers, team, coach/mentor, contacts inside and outside the organisation) in discussion about your development and start to construct your developmental goals.

Now try STEP 2a –

  • take your coaching wheel and revisit the rating system 0-9
  • this time, let the rating system 0-9 represent the nine levels of the national skills levels descriptors, which relate vocational skills and knowledge on a scale
  • decide – for each of your skillsets – which level 0-9 describes the state of your current practice, and plot it on your diagram. As before, join the dots and create your inner wheel (“where I am now”)
  • then, decide – for each of your skillsets – which level 0-9 you want or need to stretch to. As before, join the dots and create your outer wheel (“where I want to be”)

note: to do this exercise you will need to look at the national vocational skills level descriptors – these aim to relate vocational skills levels used in jobs to a national skills levelling system, and this information can be used to connect you directly to qualifications and credits you can take to improve and enhance skills levels. There is a summarised version just below.

You may also be interested to speak to an advisor in OCSLD about applying the descriptors to your skills and role. It is really worth spending some time considering the levels as they describe the qualitative leaps between job grades/levels in workplaces in practical terms.


Level statement

Entry (0)

- work activity needs continuous supervision and  foundation skills (language,number, ICT, personal literacy) require input and support to enable job related functioning.


- can apply skill and knowledge in the performance of a small range of work activities, most of which are routine and predictable and may need support. Operate under direct supervision, exercise a very limited degree of discretion and judgement about possible actions, carry restricted responsibility for quality and quantity of output.


- can apply skill and knowledge in a range of work activities that are performed in a range of contexts: collaboration with others, perhaps through membership of a work group or team, is often a requirement.

Undertake directed activity reliably, and with a degree of autonomy; accept some responsibility for local resources, quality and quantity of outputs, and in limited ways for people (recording activity, basic time planning etc).


- can apply skill and knowledge with fluency in a broadening range of varied work activities, performed in a variety of contexts, some of which are complex and non-routine. Input can be creative and may modify existing local procedures: there is a degree of responsibility for others/and or processes and guidance of others is often required.
Engage in self directed activity with guidance/evaluation, accept responsibility for quality and quantity of outputs of self and widening out to  others, sometimes reporting, fact-finding and networking beyond immediate team, using range of technical or learning skills.


- can apply skill and knowledge in a broad range of technical or professional work activities performed in a wide variety of contexts and with a fairly substantial degree of personal responsibility and autonomy. Will have some responsibility for the work of others and the allocation of resources.

Undertake self-directed and limited amount of directive activity, often reaching out to other teams and departments; take responsibility for the nature and quality of outputs; operate within broad, general guidelines or functions; meet specified quality standards.


- can apply knowledge of a range of fundamental principles across a wide and often unpredictable variety of contexts. Will have a fairly substantial level of personal autonomy and often significant responsibility for the work of others and for the allocation of  resources. Personal accountabilities for analysis, diagnosis, design, planning, execution and evaluation starting to develop and professionalise.

Accept responsibility and accountability within broad parameters for determination and achievement of personal and group outcomes; make judgements and decisions with implications relating to widening and deepening areas of expertise.


Can apply knowledge  of a range of fundamental principles across a widening/complex an often unpredictable variety of contexts. Will have a substantial level of personal autonomy and significant responsibility for the work of others and for the allocation of substantial resources. Personal accountabilities for analysis, diagnosis, design, planning, execution and evaluation feature routinely.

Accept accountability for determining and achieving personal, group and project outcomes; begin to lead multiple, complex and heterogeneous groups.


Can apply skill and knowledge fluently and autonomously with wide degree of strategic input across groups and stakeholders. Display mastery of a complex area of knowledge and skills, demonstrate expertise in highly specialised/advanced technical, professional and or research role; research or conduct technical or professional activity, using and modifying advanced skills and tools, and developing emergent and novel techniques; design and apply methodologies and communicate to wide ranging peer and user groups.

Act in wide range of unpredictable and advanced professional contexts; accept accountability in decision making including use of supervision; take significant responsibility for the work of other professional staff; lead and initiate structurally significant activity.


Make significant contribution to a specialised field of enquiry and innovation; respond to abstract  and complex problems that expand and define existing procedural knowledge and activity; shape significant changes and direct its processes; demonstrate command of critical and methodological issues: develop new skills, tools, practices and lead communities of practice.

Accept accountability in major decision making; lead and originate complex social processes with sometimes wide ranging economic spinoffs; sponsor substantial structural development.

Based on descriptors used by ILM and other award bodies

(for a more comprehensive view of the level descriptors and how they relate to Brookes, please see - national vocational skills level descriptors)

Reflection point:

You have now self-assessed your skills levels using a nationally recognised language. Using a language that helps you see your skill in terms of level of responsibility, level of autonomy and accountability, and degree of complexity of task can help you to get clear about what you want and either seek appropriately levelled development and qualifications for yourself, or articulate the level you want to learn at, to other helpers and team members.

Further research:
Explore the new Qualifications and Credits Framework
This framework charts the arena for stretching skills from one level to the other and getting credits for that.


  • take a fresh blank coaching wheel
  • take one cell name from your skills inventory and label your wheel with that. For example: customer service
  • now look at the National Occupational Standards for your role related skill of customer service (see: Skills table/important sector skills bodies links and professional bodies)
  • fill the empty cells on your wheel with the names of customer service standards think fit your role (there will be lots)
  • note on your wheel what the standards say and what you think you might do to develop in that area
  • use this annotated wheel to talk with team and manager about development

For example the role related skillset Customer service comprises national standards with these titles, so these might be placed in the cells around your coaching wheel -

  • give customers a positive impression of yourself and the organisation
  • respond to incoming telephone calls from customers
  • monitor customer services problems
  • recognise diversity in the delivery of customer service
  • develop customer relationships
  • support improvements to the delivery of customer service
  • maintain customer service through effective handover
  • apply risk assessment to customer service

Reflection point:

You have now broken a role related skillset down into simple statements, with the help of the National Occupational Standards. Knowing the components of your role in a nationally recognised language can be an illuminating process and describing your work activity in terms of specific actions and knowledge can focus your development aim as you analyse and reflect.

Annotate your wheel with your thoughts. Turn your thoughts about the skills components into development aspirations and objectives. Share your objectives as part of the development process with others who can support you. Ask others for their ideas about how you can get new experiences: there is a huge pool of talent at Brookes and we can help each other.