What Are Some Tips for Skip-Level Meetings?
From following up on any actions or commitments made during the meeting to facilitating a more impactful conversation, here are eight answers to the question, “What are tips for preparing for an engaging skip-level meeting?”
- Connect by Finding Common Interests
- Focus On Your Accomplishments
- Define the Purpose
- Exchange Feedback
- Actively Listen
- Meet With the Line-Manager First
- Research the Participants Beforehand
- Add Relevance to the Meeting By Building Relationships
Connect by Finding Common Interests
Connect with people by finding common interests or experiences you can discuss, if possible. Follow up on any actions or commitments made during the meeting. You will show your commitment to taking your commitments seriously and driving organizational results.Make sure you have researched the people you will speak with. Researching their backgrounds and accomplishments can help you come into the meeting better prepared and ready to ask meaningful questions.
Focus On Your Accomplishments
When preparing for a skip-level meeting, it’s important to focus on your accomplishments. Take the time to prepare a brief and impressive presentation of your professional journey. This will help you make the most of this important opportunity.
When meeting with your manager or other senior leaders, it’s important to be prepared and have a well-thought-out plan for how you want to present yourself and your career goals. By focusing on your accomplishments and presenting yourself professionally, you will have a successful skip-level meeting.
Define the Purpose
Clarify what you want to achieve from the meeting, the topics you want to discuss, and the questions you want to ask.
Having a clear understanding of the purpose of the meeting will help you stay focused and achieve your goals. Prepare an agenda for the meeting and share it with the participant beforehand, so they have a clear idea of what to expect and can prepare accordingly.
Offer constructive feedback on areas in which the participant is doing well and any areas that need improvement.
Discuss specific examples and offer suggestions for improvement. Use a strengths-based approach and highlight the participant’s achievements and potential. Be supportive and encouraging, and offer to provide resources or guidance where needed.
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Be patient and give the participant ample time to express their thoughts and concerns. Listen to understand and ask clarifying questions to ensure that you and the participant agree.
Use open-ended questions to encourage the participant to share their perspectives and ideas. Avoid interrupting or dominating the conversation and show empathy and respect for the participant’s experiences and perspectives.
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Meet With the Line-Manager First
Skip-level meetings are ideal for keeping first-line managers accountable. The juxtaposition between the line manager’s account and that of their direct reports will be especially insightful, highlighting the manager’s level of awareness.
By meeting with the line manager first, you allow them to outline any concerns or reflections before the skip-level meeting, setting the tone. If the feedback provided by their direct reports reflects the manager’s account, this bodes well. However, if the manager gives a wildly different account of team performance and function compared to their direct reports, this suggests an intervention may be necessary.
Therefore, I strongly recommend arranging a quick meeting with the team’s line manager before the skip-level meeting, providing an essential background from which to explore further.
Research the Participants Beforehand
A good tip that I can offer to ensure you’re ready for your skip-level meeting is to research the participants beforehand.
Skip-level meetings involve meeting with employees who are at least two levels below you in the organizational hierarchy, so it’s really important to understand their roles and responsibilities, as well as any challenges they may face in their work.
By doing your research, you can show that you are interested in their work and value their contributions. You can also ask more informed and relevant questions during the meeting, which can help to foster a more engaging and productive discussion.
Add Relevance to the Meeting By Building Relationships
Skip-level meetings are often hard to get for most employees, but when they happen, they are a great opportunity to connect with a senior leader beyond the day-to-day of what you do.
Resist the urge to use this meeting to give an update on everything you are working on. Instead, do some pre-work into what that leader may face in the current moment and over the next few months. You can do this by asking yourself prep questions. Is a board meeting coming up? Is it the budget season? Did the team just go through a recent re-org, or is the company having a customer retention issue?
Knowing what may be on that leader’s mind can help you position yourself (and your work) in a more engaging way. Do an analysis that may highlight some recent customer service issues. Also, gain constructive insight into how teams might better work together with recent organizational changes.
Making yourself and your work relevant to who you are meeting can facilitate a more impactful conversation and connection.
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