Skip Level Meetings are conducted once every quarter by the Manager of a Manager. They meet with the team that reports to the Manager without that Manager present. Skip Levels are done for all Managers. They are not done selectively or on an as needed basis. They are done for all, as per a schedule, and they are always done.
The purpose of the Skip Level meeting is twofold:
- Help the Manager be a better Manager. Get good constructive feedback for them to improve how they lead people.
- Encourage the team that reports to the Manager to speak truth to power. Make sure that their voices are heard and reinforce that that no one needs to grin and bear it.
All Managers within the company, including the CEO, have a Skip Level Meeting conducted for them.
When meeting with the Team it is very important that they understand why we are having a Skip Level Meeting. The two goals are discussed at length and then discussed again. This isn’t a fishing expedition or a complaint session. Constructive feedback and recommendations are being sought and are expected.
Everything suggested / discussed at the meeting is shared in real-time with the Team and the Manager of the Team within a Google Doc. However, no attribution is given for the suggestions. They are anonymous.
The meeting starts by asking what the Manager is doing well? Followed by what could they do better? And then finally what really sucks?
If the team has no feedback, the Team needs to confirm everything is perfect? Very unlikely…
Everyone should contribute. Not just the loudest person in the room. The facilitator does not judge, defend or debate, the feedback, they merely confirm, collate and help prioritize. The biggest impact, most important changes, need to come first.
The Skip Level is scheduled for one hour with the Team. The last 10 minutes are devoted to recapping, clarifying and prioritizing all suggestions. A review of the Skip Level is scheduled with the Manager in question for the following day. All items are discussed and action plans determined to implement any noted improvements and the actions are followed up during one-on-one’s weekly till closed and resolved.
A follow up with the Team is scheduled 45 days after the Skip Level and 30 minutes are spent with the Team confirming what progress has been made by the Manager. All feedback is once again noted in the same shared document, and a follow up is scheduled with the Manager to review and confirm progress.