The Skip-Level Meeting

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A Skip-Level Meeting is a meeting between managers and team members who are one or more levels below them. The purpose of a skip-level meeting is for managers to get to know their team members, build trust with them, and understand their problems. Skip-level meetings can never take the place of direct communications within teams, but it can be a powerful adjunct to these efforts.

Skip Level Meeting Key Concepts:

  • Group round-table meetings are more efficient than one-on-one meetings for skip-level meetings.
  • Leading organizations plan a skip-level meeting with every team or workgroup at least once per year.
  • Don’t wait for your boss or the HR department to arrange skip-level meetings for your direct reports.
  • There are five key steps to conducting an effective skip-level meeting:
  1. Plan the skip level meeting
  2. Conduct the skip level meeting and record the feedback
  3. Analyze the information collected at the skip level meeting
  4. Create an action plan based on the feedback
  5. Follow up and report progress

Skip Level Meeting Planning Questions:

  • When is the last time a skip-level meeting was conducted with this group?
  • Has the feedback from last skip level meeting been acted upon?
  • Have skip-level meetings been conducted in parallel business areas?
  • Will the skip level meeting be used to ‘build a file’ for disciplinary action on the leader of the group?
  • Have I followed the five-point planning process for skip-level meetings?
  • Do I need to improve my skills in any of the related areas, for which information is available?

Skip Level Meeting Potential Pitfalls:

  • Do not use skip-level meetings to ‘build a file’ on a leader you want to fire.
  • Tell all managers what you are doing and why.
  • Don’t include the manager in the skip level meeting if your goal is to get back honest feedback.
  • Don’t ask about topics about which you are unable or unwilling to do anything.
  • Provide some level of feedback to the manager about the feedback received from his/her direct reports during the skip level meeting.
  • It is more damaging to do a skip-level meeting poorly than it is to not do it at all.

Get the Complete ‘Skip-Level Meeting’ Topic Bundle

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The Skip Level Meeting topic bundle includes:

  • Skip Level Meeting Cheat Sheet (pdf)
  • Skip Level Meeting Booklet (pdf) containing:
    • In-Depth Topic Overview
    • Skip-Level Meeting Readiness Self-Assessment
    • Skip-Level Meeting Communication Timeline
    • Sample Skip-Level Meeting Invitation Letter
    • Sample Skip-Level Meeting Follow-up Letters
    • Skip-Level Meeting Discussion Guide
    • Suggested Skip-Level Meeting Questions
    • Skip Level Meeting Action Planner
    • Recommended Resources – where to find out even more about skip-level meetings
  • Easy-print versions of the tools contained in the Skip Level Meeting Booklet (pdf)
  • Skip Level Meeting Podcast (mp3)
  • Skip Level Meeting Podcast slides (Powerpoint)
Get instant access to the complete ‘Skip Level Meeting’ Topic Bundle