Insider Insights: How to Ace Your Next Skip Level Meeting

Updated on: 11 January 2024 | 7 min read
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Most organizations have clearly defined teams and reporting structures. In most cases, there is constant interaction with team members and people who they directly report to. What is less common is employees getting face time with their bosses-boss. This practice known as skip-level meetings is an emerging trend that allows higher-level managers to connect directly with employees at lower levels. The purpose is usually for a senior-level manager to gain insight into what is taking place at the organization from the perspective of an employee. The meeting can also be an opportunity for an employee to ask important questions and gain useful insights

What are Skip Level Meetings?

A skip-level meeting refers to a scenario where a higher-level manager interacts directly with employees, excluding the presence of their immediate supervisor.

The advantages of these meetings are apparent: direct access to unfiltered information about the organization’s current state, whether positive or negative. If the meeting’s purpose is clearly communicated in advance and the session is well-executed, a wealth of concerns, obstacles, insights, and issues can surface openly.

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Benefits of Skip Level Meetings

Skip-level meetings can be a powerful tool for organizational transparency and employee engagement. Here are specific scenarios where they prove particularly beneficial:

  • Navigating Organizational Changes: When a company undergoes restructuring or leadership changes, skip level meetings can help clarify new directions and alleviate employee concerns.
  • Identifying Hidden Challenges: These meetings can uncover issues that may not surface during regular team meetings, providing valuable insights into departmental or project roadblocks.
  • Enhancing Cross-Departmental Collaboration: By facilitating direct communication between different levels of the hierarchy, skip-level meetings can foster a better understanding of cross-departmental dependencies and encourage collaborative problem-solving.
  • Mentoring and Career Development: They offer a platform for senior leaders to mentor employees and discuss career aspirations, contributing to professional growth and retention.
  • Gathering Unfiltered Feedback: Skip-level meetings allow leaders to receive honest feedback on policies, culture, and management practices, which is crucial for continuous improvement.

In each of these scenarios, tools like Creately can be instrumental in organizing thoughts and creating a visual agenda that keeps the meeting focused and productive. The real-time collaboration feature ensures that all participants can contribute to the discussion, even if they are not physically present, making it an ideal solution for today’s hybrid work environments.

Skip-level meetings are more than just a managerial trend; they are a strategic tool that can significantly influence organizational alignment and understanding. By facilitating direct communication between upper management and non-managerial employees, these meetings can uncover insights that might otherwise remain hidden within the layers of hierarchy. Here are some ways skip-level meetings can make a difference:

Preparing for Your Next Skip Level Meeting

Skip-level meetings are more than just a managerial trend; they are a strategic tool that can significantly influence organizational alignment and understanding. By facilitating direct communication between upper management and non-managerial employees, these meetings can uncover insights that might otherwise remain hidden within the layers of hierarchy. Preparing for and scheduling skip-level meetings is crucial to their success. Here are steps and best practices to ensure these meetings are effective and yield the desired outcomes:

Understand the Purpose: Clarify the objectives of the skip-level meeting. Is it a general check-in, a discussion about specific projects, or an opportunity for you to share your insights and concerns?

Review the Agenda: If an agenda has been provided, review it thoroughly. Be aware of the topics that will be covered, and consider any questions or input you might have on these subjects.

Reflect on Your Progress: Take a moment to reflect on your recent achievements, challenges, and any outstanding issues. Be prepared to discuss your current projects and provide updates on their status.

Gather Feedback from Colleagues: Reach out to colleagues who have attended skip-level meetings in the past. Ask about their experiences and if there are any specific points or topics you should be aware of or bring up.

Prepare Questions:Think about any questions or concerns you may have regarding your role, the team, or the organization as a whole. Constructive questions can demonstrate your engagement and interest in the success of the team.

Be Ready to Share Insights: If you have valuable insights or suggestions for improvement, prepare to share them. This is an opportunity to contribute to the discussion and showcase your commitment to the team’s success.

Professionalism Matters: Approach the meeting with a professional demeanor. Be open, honest, and constructive in your communication. Avoid venting frustrations without offering potential solutions.

Update Your Manager: Inform your immediate supervisor about the upcoming skip-level meeting. Share your agenda items, any concerns you plan to address, and your overall goals for the meeting. This ensures transparency and alignment within your team.

Follow-Up Plan: Consider your follow-up actions after the meeting. Are there specific tasks or commitments you need to fulfill? Having a plan in place ensures that the meeting leads to actionable outcomes.

Remember, skip-level meetings are an opportunity for you to be heard and to contribute to the larger goals of the organization. By preparing thoughtfully, you can make the most of this chance to showcase your dedication and insights.

Questions to Expect in Your Next Skip Level Meetings

Skip-level meetings can be a goldmine for insights if the right questions are asked. To ensure that you’re not just scratching the surface, consider these carefully curated skip-level meeting questions designed to promote candid responses and adaptability to your organization’s unique context:

  • How do you feel about the current direction of the team or project?
  • Can you share an example of a recent success and what made it possible?
  • What challenges are you facing that you feel could be addressed more effectively?
  • How can leadership better support you in achieving your goals?
  • Are there any processes or tools you believe could enhance our team’s efficiency?
  • Are there any team rituals or practices you find particularly beneficial or, conversely, hindering?
  • How effective do you find the current communication channels within the team and with leadership?
  • Can you share an example of a time when a creative idea was successfully implemented within the team?
  • What role do you see for yourself in contributing to a positive team culture?
  • Are there aspects of the organizational culture that resonate with you, or areas where improvements could be made?

Making the Most Of Your Skip Level Meetings

Once the skip-level meeting wraps up, the real work begins. It’s crucial to ensure that the insights gained don’t just dissipate into the ether. Here are some effective follow-up actions to take:

  • Documenting Feedback: Capture the key points discussed during the meeting. Using a tool like Creately, with its infinite canvas, can help you visually map out feedback and action items, ensuring nothing gets lost in translation.
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  • Action Plan: Develop a clear plan to address the feedback received. Assign responsibilities and set deadlines for when these actions should be completed. Drag and drop tasks onto a visual kanban board in Creately to keep track of progress and maintain accountability.

  • Communicate Outcomes: It’s essential to close the loop with all stakeholders. Share the outcomes of the skip-level meetings and the steps you intend to take. This transparency builds trust and shows that you value the input received.

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By taking these steps, you not only honor the time and effort of those involved in the skip-level meetings but also drive meaningful change within the organization.

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Author

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Chiraag George Communication Specialist

Chiraag George is a communication specialist here at Creately. He is a marketing junkie that is fascinated by how brands occupy consumer mind space. A lover of all things tech, he writes a lot about the intersection of technology, branding and culture at large.

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