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How To Run A Skip Level Meeting

To run a skip level meeting, a superior leader must create an open, safe environment that promotes candid dialogue, active listening, and constructive feedback, helping facilitate communication between management levels and providing direct reports with an opportunity to make their voices heard.

A Skip Level Meeting is a type of meeting where upper-level management bypasses immediate supervisors to talk directly to non-managerial employees. This kind of meeting is designed to foster open communication, build trust, gain valuable insight, and address any issues or concerns among lower-level employees. It provides an opportunity for top leaders to understand the business better from varied levels, engage in direct dialogue with employees, and gain firsthand knowledge about the working conditions and morale. It also empowers the lower-level employees, enabling them to feel more valuable and heard within the organization.

What is the purpose of a Skip Level Meeting?

Running a skip-level meeting as a leader serves the purpose of fostering open communication and building trust within the organization. By directly engaging with employees at different levels of the hierarchy, leaders gain valuable insights, address concerns, and promote collaboration. This enables a better understanding of organizational dynamics and facilitates growth and development opportunities for both individuals and the overall team.

How To Run A Skip Level Meeting: Step-By-Step

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Step 1: Identify Participants

The initial step in preparing for a skip-level meeting involves identifying the participants. Naturally, this will comprise the senior manager and the corresponding employees who directly report to them. The comprising team should represent each tier of management involved, fostering an environment conducive to open communication and constructive feedback.

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Step 2: Set the Agenda

To ensure the meeting is efficient and productive, it is crucial to meticulously establish and circulate an agenda well in advance. This agenda should clearly specify the topics for discussion, identify key questions to be addressed, and assign responsibility for each agenda item, thus providing attendees with a roadmap for the important discussions to come.

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Step 3: Communicate Intent

It’s essential to distinctly articulate the purpose and intention of the meeting to all participants before it occurs. This measure ensures all the attendees are well-prepared and have a clear understanding of the meeting’s objectives, thereby limiting apprehension, confusion, and maximizing the meeting’s productivity and efficiency.

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Step 4: Establish a Safe Environment

As the meeting organizer, it’s crucial to assure participants this is a safe space for candid communication. The leader’s role must include nurturing a climate of sincerity, openness, and non-judgment, setting an atmosphere conducive for participants to express their thoughts freely and honestly without apprehension.

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Step 5: Conduct the Meeting

As a meeting leader, your main role is to ensure that the meeting proceeds in a well-structured, time-efficient manner. You should actively encourage all participants to take part in the discussions, giving everyone the opportunity to express their views. Always value each viewpoint to promote an atmosphere of mutual respect and open dialogue. Actively managing the flow of discourse will prevent time wastages and ensure an effective and productive meeting.

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Step 6: Listen and Understand

It’s crucial to actively listen to concerns and ideas presented during meetings, not just hearing but truly understanding them. This involves empathizing with employees, acknowledging their perspectives before reaching any decisions or taking actions. This process nurtures a communicative environment, fostering productivity and positive collaboration.

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Step 7: Follow up

After the meeting, it is essential to recap and communicate key points and agreed upon tasks to keep everyone informed. A summary email serves as a reminder, aiding in accurate implementation of the items discussed. This follow-up ensures that everyone is aligned and all actions are underway in an effective manner.

Questions to ask as the leader of the meeting

1. How are you finding your current work environment? – This question helps leaders gauge employee satisfaction and identify any potential issues or concerns.

2. What opportunities do you feel are being missed within your role or department? – This question encourages employees to provide innovative ideas and suggestions for improvement.

3. Are you receiving adequate support and resources to excel in your job? – This question ensures that employees have the necessary tools and resources to perform at their best.

4. How do you feel about the communication and collaboration between different teams or departments? – This question explores if there are any communication gaps or collaboration issues that need to be addressed for better teamwork.

5. What are the main obstacles or challenges you face in achieving your goals? – This question allows leaders to identify and address any barriers that may hinder employee productivity or success.

6. Are there any skills or training you believe would benefit your personal and professional development? – This question helps leaders identify opportunities for employee growth and provide the necessary resources or training.

7. Do you feel valued and recognized for your contributions? – This question enables leaders to assess employee morale and determine if recognition and appreciation efforts are sufficient.

8. How do you feel about the overall culture and values of the organization? – This question provides insights into the alignment between the organization’s culture and its employees’ perceptions, helping leaders address any cultural discrepancies.

9. What suggestions do you have for improving employee engagement and team morale? – This question encourages employees to share their thoughts on creating a positive work environment and increasing employee engagement.

10. Is there anything else you would like to discuss or any questions you have for me? – This open-ended question gives employees the opportunity to bring up any additional concerns, ideas, or questions they may have that were not covered in previous questions.

To prepare an effective skip-level meeting agenda as a leader, start by identifying the specific objectives and goals. Then, include topics that address any issues or challenges faced by the team. Prioritize employee updates, feedback, and concerns. Allocate time for open discussion and encourage participation. Finally, ensure the agenda is shared with all participants in advance for preparation.

How To Prepare For A Skip Level Meeting
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Topics that should be discussed on a skip-level meeting include the overall team performance, employee satisfaction, career progression, skill development opportunities, potential challenges, and how to address them. Feedback on team dynamics, communication, and leadership can also be valuable for fostering a positive work environment and maximizing productivity.

See Our Skip Level Meeting Template
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Software tools to facilitate a Skip Level Meeting

Software plays a crucial role in ensuring the success of skip-level meetings for leaders. It provides an efficient platform to schedule and organize these meetings, allowing for seamless communication between leaders and team members at different levels. With features like agenda creation, meeting reminders, and progress tracking, software streamlines the entire process, making skip-level meetings more productive and effective.

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Conclusion

Running a successful skip level meeting takes preparation, effective communication, and commitment to openness. With the right approach, these meetings can be a crucial tool in bridging communication gaps, nurturing transparency, and fostering a deeper connection among team members. By planning ahead, staying engaged, and adopting a clear structure, leaders can gather useful insights and instill a greater sense of purpose and motivation within their teams. Additionally, establishing a culture of trust and respect can make these meetings more productive and gratifying. Remember, the success of a skip level meeting is measured not just by its smooth conduct, but more significantly by the solutions it offers, the relationships it strengthens, and the growth it promotes. Invest time and energy in these meetings; it’s an investment in the success of your team and organization.

Jannik Lindner

I'm Jannik and I write on MeetingFever about the experiences from my career as a founder and team lead.

If you have any questions, please contact me via LinkedIn.

Popular Questions

What is a Skip Level Meeting?

A Skip Level Meeting is a type of meeting that involves the senior leadership or management of a company engaging directly with non-managerial employees. These meetings bypass middle management, hence the term “skip-level.” They are designed to facilitate open communication, increase transparency and gather insights from various levels of the organization.

What are the benefits of a Skip Level Meeting?

The benefits of a Skip Level Meeting include enhancing trust and transparency within the organization, motivating lower-level teams, offering an opportunity for top-level managers to gain different perspectives and feedback directly from non-managerial staff, and providing employees a platform to voice their opinions or concerns.

Who typically participates in a Skip Level Meeting?

In a Skip Level Meeting, high-level managers or executives engage directly with non-managerial employees, skipping over the involvement of middle management. This could include the CEO conversing with junior employees, directors talking to line staff, etc.

Could Skip Level Meetings replace the role of middle management?

No, Skip Level Meetings are not designed to replace the role of middle management. Instead, they complement their roles by providing top leadership with varied perspectives from all levels of the organization. Middle managers still play a crucial role in daily operations, supervision, and the implementation of strategies.

How frequently should Skip Level Meetings be conducted?

The frequency of Skip Level Meetings depends on the specific needs, size, and structure of the organization. However, they should be regular enough to build trust and ensure effective communication channels between leadership and non-managerial employees. This could be quarterly, bi-annually or annually.

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