Are Skip Level Meetings Bad?
This article is part of our focus on skip level meetings. We’ve discussed what a skip level meeting is, great questions to ask your managers manager at your skip level meeting, and how to setup an agenda for your skip level meeting. But we’ve been getting some interest and questions surrounding whether or not a skip level meeting is a good or bad thing?
From what we’ve discuss so far, we haven’t really discussed or broached the inherent goodness of a skip level meeting. From what we have discussed, skip level meetings are crucial and integral to promoting a healthy, open, and transparent working environment. They allow for honesty and open, clear communication between employees and upper management.
Done correctly, skip level meetings are a great thing. They shouldn’t worry you and are definitely not a bad thing. You should be excited and embrace the fact that your upper manager is scheduling a skip level meeting. This meeting will give you time and direct access with your manager’s manager. You will be afforded time to bring up your thoughts, opinions, and even frustrations.
While skip level meetings aren’t a bad thing, there are some things that you should be careful when discussing. As-with all things in life, caution is needed, and it is best to be prudent in how you broach and approach certain topics. We’ve compiled a list below on things you shouldn’t discuss at your meeting and topics that you should be a little more careful on when discussing.
We’re going to start with the elephant in the room. While skip level meetings are meant to be a time to discuss your thoughts, ideas, and frustrations, you should not use the time to vent about your direct manager. These meetings are not meant to be a therapy session. The relationship you have with your manager, whether good or bad, is not a concern or a topic of the meeting.
Absolutely avoid discussing any negatives or issues you may have with your manager. Those conversations should occur with your manager directly. Remember, the topics you discuss with your manager’s manager will most likely go back to your manager. Don’t say anything you don’t want to get back to them.
Talking Too Much
While the meeting is supposed to give you a chance to discuss your thoughts and how to enhance the department and your team, you should avoid talking too much. You want to listen to your manager’s manager and allow them ample time to discuss their thoughts and what ideas they are going to implement.
Perhaps one of the deadliest corporate sins is not preparing or preparing inadequately. You should review the agenda, if there is one, and be ready to discuss the topics presented. Though you should feel free to veer off the agenda, especially towards the end of the meeting, you should be prepared to address the topics within the agenda.
Asking The Wrong Questions
Let’s throw out the idea that “there are no wrong questions”. In this instance, there absolutely are wrong questions. The questions you ask should revolve around the team and department you work in and how you both can enhance and improve the team. Asking questions about payroll, promotions, or time-off are widely inappropriate and should not be discussed at a skip level meeting.
Only Talking About Yourself
Remember, the purpose of a skip level meeting is to, “determine the organization’s effectiveness – by getting an honest assessment”. The conversation and purpose should center around the team and the department. That doesn’t mean you can’t discuss yourself, you absolutely should. It simply means that you should focus on the larger picture.
By focusing on the larger picture and the team and department, you show yourself as an integral player on the team. You can provide honest, factual points and show that you are always thinking on ways and how to improve the team.
By only focusing on yourself, you make it seem that you are only concerned with yourself and your own success. As a rising tide lifts all boats, so too does a rising and growing department. By helping the team and the department, you help yourself.
Discussing Personal and Confidential Information
One of the worst things you can do in a skip level meeting is divulge personal or confidential information. While chances are that your manager’s manager may be privy to this information, it is not your place to disclose it. Don’t talk about the latest gossip or personal happenings on the team.