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Career Advice

The value of skip-level meetings 

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated February 2, 2023
|4 min read

Your boss’s boss just scheduled time on your calendar without any context. Don’t panic. You’re not in trouble; you’ve just been invited to a skip-level meeting. This is your opportunity to share your insights with leaders and offer feedback that can help your company make improvements. 

What is a skip-level meeting?

As the name suggests, a skip-level meeting eliminates one — or more — levels of management from the conversation, giving leaders a chance to connect with colleagues beyond their network of direct reports. 

In most skip-level meetings, you’ll talk about the company’s goals, the employee’s direct manager, the employee’s role within the company, and potential areas for improvement. Participants can ask questions about each other’s roles, learn more about the company’s upcoming plans, and discuss ways to avoid obstacles within the organization. 

Some companies make skip-level meetings part of their regular workflow to give senior managers a deeper understanding of individual contributors’ roles, while others reserve skip-level meetings to address performance problems or stability issues. The former approach is preferable because it normalizes the skip-level meeting, contributes to employees feeling seen and heard, and can help head off problems before they arise. Many Glassdoor reviewers consider these meetings to be a positive attribute in a company.

How to prepare for a skip-level meeting

Ideally, either your manager or the person you’re meeting with will share an agenda in advance. If they do, spend at least an hour reading over the topics and organizing your thoughts about how you or your job relate to those topics. If your company publishes OKRs or Smart Goals, review those goals and metrics. 

But you may not receive an agenda at all. Before your meeting, prepare a brief synopsis of your background, generally, and your history at the company, specifically. That information can set the context for outlining your career progression and objectives. While it’s a good idea to research the person you’re speaking  with before your meeting, you should also ask questions about their role during your meeting.

Prioritize constructive transparency

During a skip-level meeting, a manager will probably ask about your boss’s strengths and weaknesses. Whether you love or hate your boss, this is not the time for vague endorsements or criticisms. Instead, think about specific examples that support your assessment of your manager’s performance. That includes details about:

  • Best and worst management traits
  • Recent situations in which your manager exceeded or failed to meet expectations
  • How your manager interacts with direct reports and upper management
  • How to improve processes
  • Which processes work well

A skip-level meeting is not an open invitation to undermine your manager. If you have serious concerns about something your manager is doing, it’s best to raise them directly with that manager, or, if relevant, human resources. If you continue to have concerns after contacting your manager or HR, then you can bring it up in a skip-level meeting.

Get more out of your skip-level meeting

Think of every skip-level meeting as a fact-finding mission to gain clarity on initiatives and decisions that you may not fully understand. If you’re unclear about strategies or goals, ask. The skip-level leader may have a better explanation.  

If your organization schedules regular skip-level meetings, use that face-time with your upper managers to learn more about advancement opportunities, champion your career goals, and ask for feedback. Identify people you want to learn from within the company, and inquire about mentorship opportunities.

Organizational meeting structures may vary, but skip-level meetings typically touch on the following topics. Use this agenda to help organize your ideas to prepare for your next skip-level meeting.

Ask for a meeting

If your company doesn’t schedule skip-level meetings, ask for one. Start by reaching out to your manager to see if there’s a process in place. Explain what your goals are in requesting the meeting. Scheduling time on a higher-level executive’s schedule can be tricky, so enlisting your manager as an ally in the process may help speed things up. 

If you’re ready to get a fresh perspective on your company’s goals this year, set up a skip-level meeting, or maximize the time you spend in your next one.