Skip-level meetings are an excellent tool to gain insight into your company's culture, strengths, and shortcomings in a one-on-one setting. If you manage managers, setting up a recurring meeting with their direct reports is a great way to understand how your direct reports are leading.
Additionally, a skip-level meeting helps you get insight into how your employees are feeling about the business, culture, and leadership. Lastly, it allows you to uncover the obstacles that are preventing teams from producing their best work.
Here, Michael Brown shares his skip-level meeting agenda template based on experience as a senior manager at Uber, McKinsey, Facebook, and Newfront Insurance.
What is a skip-level meeting?
A skip-level meeting is a meeting between a direct report and the manager of their manager.
Like performance reviews and one-on-ones, skip-level meetings help expose issues that otherwise go unnoticed (or unaddressed). They also offer senior team members an opportunity to mentor and assist more junior workers and collect feedback on their manager. Because these meetings are less regular, it's help to use a skip-level meeting template so that every skip-level meeting is as effective as it can be.
Where should you have your skip-level meeting?
Like one-on-ones, skip-level meetings often benefit from being held a more casual setting. This setting might be over a meal or while taking a walk. If the meeting is in a conference room or office, try to position yourself neutrally. Instead of sitting behind laptops across a big table, sit a few seats away, with an open posture. Even if they don’t show it, junior team members can be intimidated in this setting, and you’ll have a better meeting if everyone is at ease.
What questions should you ask in a skip-level meeting?
This sample meeting agenda has a lot of good questions for a skip-level meeting. Check out this article for 31 examples of good questions for skip-level meetings. Here are some of the questions:
- What works well in the department right now? (i.e. systems, processes, technology, feedback, etc.)
- What needs improvement and/or what obstacles are preventing you from being successful? (i.e. technology, top-level support, more feedback, etc.)
- What is one thing, as a department, we need to start doing right away to be more successful?
- What is one thing, as a department, we need to stop doing right away to be more successful?
- What is one thing, as a department, we need to make sure we continue to do in order to be successful?
- What do you need more or less of from your manager or myself in order to be successful as a department and in your role?
- What’s one thing your manager or I could improve on?
- What’s one thing your manager or I could have done to make that meeting, presentation, or project go better?
- How did [name of project] go from your perspective?
- What do you think your manager or I could’ve done differently on [name of project]?