A skip-level meeting is a meeting where a manager holds a one-on-one meeting with a direct report of someone they manage. It's a variation of the typical 1-1 meeting, done to capture insights that typically wouldn't be brought to the attention of upper management. 'Skips' are a great tool to capture raw and unfiltered feedback and identify blind spots.
For most managers running skip-level meetings for the first time, one of the factors making them the most successful is how you kick them off within your team. Skip-level meeting invitations "out-of-the-blue" have the potential to cause some panic amongst your managers. Therefore, it's important to let your managers know that you'll start skip-level meetings with their employees.
We've prepared a sample email to give you an idea of what you might send to let your managers know you'd like to start running skip-level meetings:
Hi [managers name],
Recently I've been considering how I can improve as a leader, and I was thinking that skip-level meetings could be a way for me to become a better leader both to you and everyone in your team.
Obviously I'd only do this if you're ok with with it, but here's what I'm thinking...
Once a quarter I'd dedicate 30-45 mins with each of your direct reports to talk through things like; what I could be doing to improve the company vision, what they're really enjoying about working in the team and company, as well as an opportunity for them to ask me any questions.
I think it could be a great way to ensure I'm aligned with their issues, they're aligned with the vision, and it would give them a chance to have input on important issues.
Would love to know what you think.
Once you've got the buy-in from your managers, the next step is to reach out to their direct reports to actually organize the meeting. We've written a skip-level meeting invitation sample below to get you started.
Hi [employee's name],
Recently I've been considering how I can improve as a leader, and I was thinking that skip-level meetings could be a way for me to become a better leader to you and the team.
It would be a chance for us to get to know each other a little better, and talk about what's working and what's not in our organization. The objective would be to help us all work better together, check that we're aligned on the vision for the company and ensure you're happy and have the tools to be successful in your role.
I'd bring a few questions for you and if there's anything you'd like to discuss we'd cover that too - things like idea's for improving your team, any issues or observations you think I might not be aware of, or any feedback on your manager. Any other questions you might have for me you can bring them too!
I'm curious to know what you think? I was considering kicking them off on [date]. Happy to hear any suggestions around topics, timings etc.
Once you've scheduled the meeting, the next thing you need is a template and a place to capture the notes from these meetings. We've created an easy skip-level meeting agenda template to get you started. We recommend you take a look at Complish as a way to run actionable meetings and give your attendees the ability to add updates and notes between your quarterly skips.