Some managers just get it. They understand how to connect with people, set the right expectations, and develop employees to perform at their best. When I am fortunate enough to see that in action, I swear I hear the angels sing.
Last week I spoke with a General Sales Manager who is one of the best I’ve seen at developing people. During our conversation, I learned that he had been traveling to each of his markets to do Skip Level meetings and I was impressed! It’s not easy to find the time to make Skip Level meetings happen, but the best managers find the time and their effort pays off in big ways
Could a Skip Level Meeting benefit you?
Skip Level meetings are one-on-one conversations with the people who report to a manager down the chain. For example, a General Sales Manager who has Local Sales Managers reporting to her could have a Skip Level meeting with each of the Account Executives on those sales teams. Skip Level meetings are effective for anyone in upper management including those with C-level positions. The more you are removed from what is happening day-to-day on the ground, the more a Skip Level meeting will benefit you.
The best Skip Level meetings have a give and take to them. The employee gets insight into the company vision, mentorship, and the opportunity to be heard. The manager gets to learn more about what is happening in the organization, know what employees think, better understand how they are doing, build trust, discover dysfunction, and show people they care.
Effective topics for Skip Level meetings might include:
- Thoughts related to the current environment or culture at work
- The best and toughest parts of their job
- Ideas for improvement within their department, market, or company
- Ideas related to products, events, and initiatives
- The direction the company is taking and the vision for the next 6-months, year, or 3 years
- Their goals for themselves and their teams
There are four things you need to do to ensure your Skip Level Meetings are successful:
- Introduce the concept to your managers to avoid all surprises and unnecessary worry! This is a positive for them.
- Reach out directly to the people you will be meeting with to make sure they know what to expect and recognize this is a positive thing as well.
- Don’t take on more than you can chew! Space these meeting out across a reasonable period of time to ensure you are actually able to keep the appointments.
- Prepare a list of very specific questions to ask during each Skip Level meeting. Meaningful conversation and discovery will happen organically, but you need to begin with specific prompts.
Here are a few specific questions to get you started:
- How are you feeling about your job overall?
- What are especially proud of accomplishing during your time with our company?
- How do you measure success in your role?
- What is one thing that prevents you from being even more successful than you already are?
- If you were in your manager’s job, what would you do differently? Why?
- What do you think the current goals of the company are?
- How do you feel your role contributes to those goals?
- What ideas do you have for innovation or improvement?
- What are your professional goals during the next year here? The next 3 years?
Leadership expert, Simon Sinek said, “Leadership is a way of thinking, a way of acting, and most importantly, a way of communicating. "Could Skip Level meetings be away for you to expand your thinking, better communicate and improve your leadership ability? If so, give ‘em a try!