What is a skip-level meeting?
A skip level meeting is a one-on-one meeting where an employee meets with upper-level management, bypassing their direct manager. In other words, an employee is "skipping" a level of management to connect directly with senior leaders.
What is the goal of this meeting?
The goal of skip-level meetings is:
- For employees: To learn about company goals, objectives, and strategies from senior leaders in an organization.
- For senior leaders: To create a shared space to discuss career progression, professional goals and exchange feedback with employees.
Skip level meetings are not intended to dig up dirt or spy on middle managers. If there are any issues, they should be handled between the employee and their direct manager.
Skip level meeting template walk-through:
1. What are you LEAST clear about – in terms of our strategy and goals?
This is a great opportunity for employees to get a deeper understanding of company goals and overall strategy from someone outside of their direct team. In many cases, senior managers have more information at their disposal about things like how the work of one team will work in tandem with another, enabling everyone in the organization to collaborate on company-wide goals.
2. What professional goals would you like to accomplish in the next six to 12 months, and what makes you say that?
Growth conversations don't have to be limited to employee-manager relationships. When employees feel that their growth is a priority for the company as a whole, they become more motivated and engaged in their work. They feel like they have more than just one person (or team) in their corner to get them to where they want to be professional.
Asking employees for the why is also a great way to dig deeper into what excites them. Maybe someone on your marketing team has decided that they want to start transitioning into a product role. If there's an opportunity to build up their skills in that domain and a need for it in your company, it should be a no brainer. Hard skills can be taught; Soft skills, work ethic, and culture fit can't.
3. Are you happy in your role? What could make it better for you?
Career development and growth are key to engaging and retaining employees, but when it comes to skip-level meetings, they’re not always present on the agenda. Use this as an opportunity to learn more about the goals and career aspirations your employees have, so that you can help unlock learning and development opportunities within or outside of the company.
4. Are you happy in your role? What could make it better for you?
This is your opportunity to gather useful information on how things are going in the company, straight from the front-line. Leaders higher up may know more about the health of the business, fundraising updates, and how much money is in the bank... But the front-line employees are the ones who feel organizational pains the most, from a toxic culture to workplace silos.
Skip-level meetings offer a great opportunity for senior management to learn more about these issues straight from those who experience them the most.
However, be mindful of how employees might feel, and aware that they might have difficulty sharing opinions and being vulnerable with you. You're their boss's boss. It’s your job to foster an environment of open, honest communication by setting the pretext for your one-on-one before and during your meeting.