Skip Level Meetings: Why They MatterSkip Level Meetings: Why They Matter https://c-suitenetwork.com/advisors/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2022/03/tell-me-more-1024x683.jpg 1024 683 Mark Hinderliter https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/8be13cd9482c8f3e6594f8b51001ca4b?s=96&d=mm&r=g
The Emperor had no clothes
In a previous life, I was a Senior Vice President for a billion-dollar global enterprise. I always made an effort to watch and listen to other leaders to see what I might learn from them. One thing that caught my attention was one of our senior executive’s communication style was to interact predominately with his direct reports, with very little interaction below them. Two of the departments that reported to him had very autocratic Vice-Presidents. Morale was very low in both departments. Everyone seemed to know it but this senior executive. 𝐇𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐄𝐦𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐨𝐫 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐧𝐨 𝐜𝐥𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬. In fact, a few of us tried to give him a heads-up, to no avail. Eventually, there were uprisings in both departments, and the exec had to dismiss both of these direct reports. He set himself up to be blind-sided.
Learning from Others
While I always try to learn from my own mistakes, I took the opportunity to learn from this colleague’s mistakes. As a result, my remedy for this potential trap was to implement 𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐩-𝐥𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐥 meetings with direct reports of my direct reports. I was transparent about what I was doing and why. My strategy was to meet one-on-one with these key people on a semi-annual basis. My objective was to build closer working relationships, get a broader view of reality from them, and see how I could better support them – without undermining their relationship with their manager.
Accordingly, I emailed an invitation to each of them for a one-on-one meeting with me. I explained the purpose of the meeting, and what questions I would like them to ponder for our conversation. For the first round, they came in somewhat nervous but quickly got over it.