Feeling tongue-tied in a skip-level meeting? Don't worry. We've all been there. These meetings can be tricky, but they can be super valuable with the right approach. In this article, we'll discuss everything from a skip-level meeting and its importance to the ten most important skip-level meeting questions to ask (as managers and employees).
So, let’s get right into it.
- What is a skip-level meeting?
- Who decides the agenda of the skip-level meeting?
- Importance of skip-level meetings
- How to prepare for a skip-level meeting as an employee
- Skip-level meeting agenda template for employees
- 10 skip-level meeting questions to ask managers
- How to prepare for a skip-level meeting as a manager
- Skip-level meeting agenda template for managers
- 10 skip-level meeting questions to ask employees
- Bonus skip-level meeting questions
What is a skip-level meeting?
Skip-level meetings bring employees face-to-face directly with someone a few levels above you. These meetings are called ‘skip-level’ because you skip your immediate supervisor/manager and directly converse with people higher up the hierarchy.
These are relatively short meetings aimed at building transparent communication across all levels. This is a platform to discuss the company’s growth and your own. You can also discuss strategic changes in your organization and share feedback.
Whether you're looking to build relationships, gather information, or make a positive impression, these meetings are important for employees and managers.
Who decides the agenda of the skip-level meeting?
A comprehensive and relevant meeting agenda is crucial for a productive and efficient meeting. It’s no different for skip-level meetings.
Usually, it’s the manager’s job to prepare an agenda tailored to the company’s current goals. But it’s best to create it with employees to make these meetings more inclusive and transparent.
Duration: These meetings usually last 30-45 minutes and happen bi-monthly or monthly.
Importance of skip-level meetings
It is not every day that employees get to interact with senior management. A skip-level meeting facilitates candid interactions and builds a culture of open communication and problem-solving without the usual hierarchy getting in the way.
- It gives employees a platform to discuss new ideas and concerns.
- Employees get to know their senior management, how they work, and their management style.
- It makes employees feel confident that the senior management is approachable. They feel valued and heard.
- Employees get a better understanding of the company’s goals and strategy.
- It results in better decision-making as managers understand their team’s perspective.
- It makes the organization much more transparent for both employees and managers.
For managers, these meetings result in a greater understanding of employee satisfaction. They get to know how their team works and what kind of issues persist that they previously weren’t aware of. It helps them realign the company goals accordingly with the employees’ immediate managers.
It also gives managers a forum to directly appreciate and recognize their employees' work.
How to prepare for a skip-level meeting as an employee
Whether it is your first skip-level meeting or otherwise, it’s best to always prepare for it. Think of some good skip-level questions and your career aspirations before diving into the conversation. Here’s how employees can approach their preparation:
Get to know your boss’s boss: The invite you received has the names of all the attendees from the senior management. Research them. Review their profiles and roles to familiarize yourself with them. It will give you some ideas about topics you can discuss.
Make clear objectives: Be clear about what you hope to gain from this meeting. You might have some concerns or ideas to share. Prepare your talking points to avoid missing out on anything.
Show respect: This goes without saying, respect everyone in the meeting. Any feedback or criticism you get, take it in with an open mind. Implement it, as it will only help your personal growth.
Don’t be late: It doesn’t matter if this meeting takes place online or offline, be on time. Dress professionally, and be confident.
Prepare an agenda with questions to ask at a skip-level meeting. Here is an example to get you started.
Skip-level meeting agenda template for employees
10 skip-level meeting questions to ask managers
Now that you have a skip-level meeting agenda template, here are 10 questions to give you an idea about how you can tailor your questions according to the agenda:
- What do the company’s current goals, objectives, and strategies look like?
- How close are we to achieving these goals?
- How can I contribute more toward these goals?
- Are there any challenges I need to be aware of related to my work area?
- Are there any areas I can personally contribute to with my current skills?
- What can we do to work better as a team?
- How can we improve the entire communication of the company?
- What new skills do I need to learn to perform my responsibilities better?
- What, according to you, is my biggest weakness and my biggest strength?
- Are there any major changes happening in the company in the upcoming quarter?
How to prepare for a skip-level meeting as a manager
If you are a manager preparing for a skip-level meeting, ensure the meeting is a success. You can start by identifying the purpose of the meeting. It will not only help you create a clear agenda but also help you guide the session forward.
Here’s how you can approach this meeting:
Get to know your employees: You can only create an agenda after knowing your employees. You should know their roles and responsibilities and the areas where they excel. This will help you communicate with them in a better way.
Create an agenda: Your meeting agenda should include everything you want to discuss/ask with your employees, with a clear goal in mind. Communicate it with the team before the meeting so they also get enough time to prepare.
Promote open communication: Many employees might feel intimidated by your seniority and feel uncomfortable presenting their issues. It’s your responsibility to make your team feel at ease. You want them to open up with you without hesitation.
Listen carefully: When your team shares their feedback, issues, or concerns over the current working situation, just listen. Encourage them to be open, even if they feel that their issues are trivial. Refrain from countering what they have to say; instead, look for a viable solution to their problem.
As a manager, you should also prepare an agenda and a list of skip-level questions to ask during the meeting.
Skip-level meeting agenda template for managers
10 skip-level meeting questions to ask employees
As a manager, you also need to ask the right questions to get the most information from your employees. Here are some questions that can help you frame your own -
- Do you have proper support from your immediate managers and team members? If not, what can we do to improve it?
- Can the current company goals can be achieved in time? If you need more time or resources, let us know.
- Are you comfortable with your work and current projects?
- Would you like to pursue new responsibilities beyond your current field?
- How would you rate your communication with your team members and management out of 10?
- Do you have any suggestions we can implement to improve organization-wide communication?
- If you face any issues with your immediate managers, please feel free to bring them forward.
- Do you feel satisfied and valued within the company?
- Do you have a proper work-life balance?
- Does this job provide you with a flexible work culture that you are comfortable with?
Please remember that these questions are only to give you an idea. The questions you ask should be tailored to the agenda of your skip-level meeting, considering the nature and scope of your work.
Bonus skip-level meeting questions
Here are some other examples of what to ask in skip-level meetings -
- Are there any employees that you are impressed with?
- Would you like to have a chance to collaborate on a project with them?
- Do you have any issues you had voiced before that the management didn’t address?
- Would you like to share any issues beyond work affecting your efficiency to work properly?
- Have you ever felt unsupported by your fellow team members?
- What additional skills do you want to learn?
The success of any skip-level meeting depends on asking the right questions. This goes for both the managers and the employees.
When managers take the time to ask open-ended and thought-provoking questions during a skip-level meeting, it gets everyone talking and thinking on a deeper level. This kind of discussion can lead to valuable insights and ideas that everyone can implement.
For employees, these meetings give them a chance to voice their opinions. They can give feedback on the ongoing projects and what kind of resources or skills they need to improve to deliver their best.
These meetings present a two-way street, with transparent communication at its very core. Give feedback, take feedback, and ask questions. Let it help you create a more open work culture for everyone.