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What Is a Skip Level Meeting and Why Is It Important To Hybrid Settings?

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A skip level meeting is a type of meeting that allows senior leaders to hear feedback and thoughts directly from employees. These incredible insights can help managers determine the best steps forward and accurately assess other supervisors.

These one-on-ones are especially beneficial in hybrid workplaces. With the proper preparation, skip level meetings will raise valuable questions, boost company culture, and improve relationships with employees.

Skip Level Meetings Explained

Skip level meetings let employees and senior leaders meet for honest feedback, discussions, and goals — "skipping a level" in the usual chain of command. They help leadership evaluate lower-level managers by listening to employees’ assessments and concerns. Beyond assessing direct supervisors, most skip level meetings improve communication and develop constructive feedback for the entire organization.

Why Conduct These Types of One-on-One Meetings?

Pairing upper-level managers with lower-level employees allows both parties to build relationships and learn more about each other. Most skip level meetings include the following agenda items:

  • Introducing yourself and the purpose of the meeting
  • Recognizing the employee's contributions and achievements
  • Asking questions based on the meeting's intent
  • Reassessing company goals and values
  • Asking if the employee has any questions or additional notes
  • Addressing action items and next steps

Based on the questions you ask, skip level conversations will give you meaningful insights into operations and work culture.  In hybrid settings, they can even establish a communication channel if team members need to contact you again.

Skip level agendas can also help junior employees get acquainted with the workplace culture. This way, new hires can put faces to senior management's names and ask key questions about the organization.

What Are the Biggest Challenges of This One-on-One Meeting?

Though skip level meetings can bring managers meaningful insights through assessment from employees, not all information is dependable. Managers should avoid relying solely on anecdotal evidence or isolated claims. Some employees may misremember key information, while others may intentionally misrepresent their supervisors. You'll often need to compile and compare feedback from multiple team members to gauge supervisors' performances accurately.

You must also be careful and respectful when speaking with other teams. Maintaining a good impression is critical for employee engagement and retention. Beyond that, speaking poorly about supervisors' leadership styles can inspire insubordination among employees. Remember to be respectful of company culture and chain of command.

Finally, skip level meetings can quickly fill up senior leaders' schedules. Though relationships with employees are essential, writing meeting questions, scheduling appointments, and talking for 15 to 60 minutes can take a lot of time. Be aware of your schedule's limitations and consider spreading the meetings out on your calendar.

How Does the Approach to Skip Level Meetings Change in Hybrid Settings?

Skip level meetings and other company culture-focused initiatives are crucial in hybrid and remote environments. Many hybrid organizations fall behind due to a lack of coordination and effective communication, impacting productivity and engagement. Skip level agendas allow leadership and lower-level employees to have conversations beyond emails and chat threads. As a result, teams can feel more united and break through the usual restrictions of remote work.

Though every hybrid structure differs, most virtual platforms now make it easier for skip managers to connect with lower-level employees. Employees don't have to take too much time out of their workday to share honest feedback, and managers can connect with employees in various locations without commuting. Plus, since hybrid technology is already integrated into most workflows, virtual meetings are now much easier to set up.

Letting senior leaders and employees bond and share insights improves relationships and helps keep all teams on the same page. As a result, they can improve collaboration across the board and help you stand out from other hybrid organizations.

Senior Manager Best Practices for Skip Level Meetings

Skip level meetings vary based on their purpose and how familiar the employees and senior managers are with one another. Craft different meeting questions for various teams and roles.

Consider your company goals and what you want to learn most when writing these questions. For example, take a moment to reflect on what you know about a supervisor's leadership style, strengths, and weaknesses. Then, ask relevant questions to see how their strategies and strengths have changed. You should also assess current industry changes and ask questions to verify that your teams are prepared.

Many senior leaders use hybrid work technology when preparing for skip level meetings. These platforms allow you to compile information and simplify scheduling so you can focus on what's most important.

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