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Ultimate Skip Level Meeting Agenda

Skip level meetings are an integral part of any successful organization.  They allow for access and information to flow from employees to upper management without any mediators or middlemen.  Skip level meetings allow for upper management and employees to speak honestly and openly.  When done correctly, these meetings can help an organization and a department improve efficiency and increase employee morale.

While we’ve previously discussed what a skip level meeting is and questions to ask your managers manager, we’d like to fully discuss how to setup the agenda for the skip level meeting.  While a skip level meeting is important to an organization’s growth, equally as important is the agenda and purpose of the meeting.  Upper management should be cognizant to ensure their employees are prepared for the meeting and provide them with an agenda at least a week before the meeting.

What’s The Purpose?

All meetings should have a purpose.  No one likes unnecessary meetings and meetings which take away from actual work.  To that end, upper management should provide a purpose to the skip level meeting.  Is it simply a meet-and-greet?  Or is it to discuss how to increase employee morale and retention?  Or more simply, is it to discuss the department more generally?

While most skip level meetings are meant to, “determine the organization’s effectiveness – by getting an honest assessment from employees at all levels”, it can be more narrow and focused on a particular issue or problem.

Skip level meetings do not need to follow a template or set structure.  Upper management should utilize this crucial time to meet the needs of the department and their employees.

Keep It Personal

When meeting with employees, upper management should be sure to keep the topics personal and relevant.  Discuss topics and issues which impact the employee and the department as a whole.  Utilize the time together to get and gather feedback and to get a sense of employee wants, needs, and frustrations.

As a manager, you should focus on the employee and what you can do to assist them accomplish their core roles and responsibilities.  As a manager, you have the power to enact and effect change that can lead to better and more positive outcomes.

Don’t Gossip, Don’t Be Vindictive

 The exact opposite purpose of a skip level meeting is to gossip or “get dirt” on mid-level managers.  These meetings are meant to enhance the department.  It is not the time, nor is it appropriate, to gossip or discuss any problems about the mid-level manager.

Similarly, the skip level meeting is meant to be anonymous and confidential.  What happens in the meeting should stay in the meeting.  As a manager, you should not be vindictive against any employee, no matter what they say during the meeting.  Don’t take their frustrations or problems personally.  In order to be a good manager, listen to their problems and enact changes to increase morale and employee happiness.

Leave Time For Questions and Be Prepared With Honest Answers

Your employees may be nervous or skeptical to speak honestly with you.  This is a normal reaction.  It is your job as the manager to ease their nerves and make them feel comfortable.  Don’t dive right into the hard-hitting questions.  Start off by asking the employee basic, easy questions, like how long their commute is and how long they’ve been in the industry. 

Once the employee begins to open up and gets more comfortable, feel free to go into the more difficult questions.  Again, the employee may not be fully honest from the get-go and may continue to show some resistance throughout, but you should create an atmosphere or comfort.

But don’t forget to allow for time for the employee to ask their own questions.  Leave ample time to listen to their frustrations and hear their questions.  Answer honestly and to the best of your abilities.  If you’re unsure of how to answer or don’t have the answer, don’t lie.  Let the employee know that you will follow-up with the appropriate sources and will let them know.

Always Follow-Up

As a senior manager, your interactions with your managers employees may be limited.  So, take advantage of the time you do have with them.  If you say you will follow-up on something make sure you do. 

Keep the skip level meetings set on a reoccurring, once a quarter schedule.  Try to go out of your way to say hello and check-in on the employees.  Let them know that you are there and have an open-door policy to address any of their needs.

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