A skip level meeting is a conversation between you and the manager of your direct supervisor, who is not present during the interview. The objective of this type of meeting is usually to enable a senior-level manager to obtain insight into the company’s operations from your perspective, and to help you:
- Build trust and rapport with the senior leadership
- Share your feedback, ideas, and concerns about the work, the culture, and the team
- Gain clarity and alignment on the company’s vision, goals, and priorities
- Learn from the senior manager’s experience and expertise
- Showcase your achievements, strengths, and potential
- Identify areas for improvement and development
- Seek guidance and support for your career growth
However, skip level meetings can also be challenging, as they can:
- Make you feel anxious, intimidated, or exposed
- Create confusion or conflict with your direct supervisor
- Trigger unrealistic expectations or promises
- Expose gaps or inconsistencies in the communication or performance across the organization
- Require preparation and follow-up to make the most of the opportunity
Therefore, it is important to prepare for a skip level meeting in advance, so that you can make a positive impression, communicate effectively, and achieve your desired outcomes. Here are some tips on how to prepare for a skip level meeting:
1. Understand the purpose and agenda of the meeting
Before the meeting, you should clarify the purpose and agenda of the meeting with the senior manager or their assistant. You should also ask about the format, duration, and frequency of the meeting, and whether there are any specific topics or questions that the senior manager wants to discuss with you. This will help you set your expectations, plan your time, and focus your preparation.
2. Research the senior manager and their role
Before the meeting, you should also research the senior manager and their role in the organization. You can use various sources, such as the company website, LinkedIn, internal newsletters, or your colleagues, to learn more about the senior manager’s background, experience, responsibilities, interests, and personality. This will help you understand their perspective, expectations, and communication style, and tailor your approach accordingly.
3. Review your work and performance
Before the meeting, you should also review your work and performance since the last skip level meeting or since you joined the company. You should gather evidence and examples of your achievements, strengths, and potential, as well as your challenges, needs, and concerns. You should also reflect on your feedback, ideas, and suggestions on the work, the culture, and the team, and how they align with the company’s vision, goals, and priorities. This will help you showcase your value, demonstrate your competence, and express your opinions.
4. Prepare questions for the senior manager
Before the meeting, you should also prepare questions for the senior manager that you want to ask during the meeting. You should avoid asking questions that are too personal, trivial, or inappropriate, and focus on questions that are relevant, meaningful, and respectful. You should also prioritize your questions based on their importance and urgency, and be prepared to adapt them based on the flow of the conversation.
Some questions you can ask the senior manager are:
- How do you define success in your role and in the organization?
- What are the current goals, priorities, and challenges that you are working on or facing?
- How can I and my team support you and the organization in achieving them?
- What are the values, beliefs, and principles that guide your decisions and actions?
- How do you communicate, lead, and make decisions?
- How do you interact with your direct reports, peers, and other stakeholders?
- What are the best practices, tips, or advice that you can share with me and my team?
- How do you balance your work and personal life?
- How do you measure success in my role and in my team?
- What are the expectations, standards, and feedback that you have for me and my team?
- What are the opportunities, challenges, and trends that you see for me and my team in the future?
- How can I and my team grow and develop in our roles and careers?
- How can I and my team leverage your experience and expertise?
- How can I and my team communicate and collaborate better with you and your team?
5. Coordinate with your direct supervisor
Before the meeting, you should also coordinate with your direct supervisor and inform them about the skip level meeting. You should reassure them that you are not going behind their back or undermining their authority, and that you value their support and guidance. You should also ask them for their input and feedback on your preparation, and align with them on the topics and questions that you want to discuss with the senior manager. This will help you avoid any confusion, conflict, or miscommunication with your direct supervisor, and ensure that you are on the same page.
6. Practice and rehearse
Before the meeting, you should also practice and rehearse your preparation, and anticipate the possible scenarios and responses from the senior manager. You can use various methods, such as writing down your notes, speaking out loud, or role-playing with a colleague or a friend, to practice and rehearse your preparation. This will help you improve your confidence, clarity, and delivery, and prepare you for any surprises or challenges that might arise during the meeting.
7. Follow up and follow through
After the meeting, you should also follow up and follow through on the meeting and its outcomes. You should send a thank-you note to the senior manager, expressing your appreciation and gratitude for their time and attention, and summarizing the key points and action items from the meeting. You should also update your direct supervisor on the meeting and its outcomes, and seek their feedback and support on the action items or recommendations. You should also track and monitor your progress and performance on the action items or recommendations, and report back to the senior manager and your direct supervisor on the results and outcomes. This will help you demonstrate your accountability, commitment, and improvement, and build trust and credibility with the senior manager and your direct supervisor.
A skip level meeting can be a valuable opportunity for you as an employee to connect with the senior leadership, share your feedback, ideas, and concerns, gain clarity and alignment on the company’s vision, goals, and priorities, learn from the senior manager’s experience and expertise, showcase your achievements, strengths, and potential, identify areas for improvement and development, and seek guidance and support for your career growth. However, to make the most of this opportunity, you need to prepare for it in advance, so that you can make a positive impression, communicate effectively, and achieve your desired outcomes. By following the tips and steps outlined in this blog post, you can prepare for a skip level meeting with confidence and ease, and turn it into a rewarding and productive experience.