What is a Skip Level Meeting (Interview)?
Skip levels interviews are one on one meetings between a senior leader and employee. The leader meeting with the employee is the boss of the employee’s boss.I think it’s a great way to establish a relationship with teams and keep the employee communication lines open. We all have busy schedules after all and senior leaders spend less time with employees and more on long term planning, growth and strategy. Managers often go through the motions failing to capitalize on the opportunity the skip level meeting brings. Skip level meetings are often called skip level interviews.
The goal in having a skip level meeting is to meet with the employee and develop trust and rapport so that the employee will go to either a member of the leadership before giving notice or resigning from the employer. These interviews are extremely important especially when you hire remote employees. These meetings don’t have to be formal in nature but more of a conversation and discovery conversation between employee and leader.
Often times employers schedule skip level meetings or interviews with high potential employees or those of a department who has recently experienced an increase in employee turnover. However, I am of the belief that leaders should make a habit of having skip level meetings even if turnover isn’t an issue or a topic of conversation among leadership. Otherwise, skip level meetings might signify to some employees that the organization isn’t meeting expectation and could also be planning restructuring, layoffs or a massive organizational change.
Additionally, if skip level interviews aren’t scheduled with team members on the regular, meeting with the big boss can be extremely stressful. Employees often think the worst when they are called into a leader’s office just like site visits from managers as well as HR when the leadership team hasn’t made a regular habit of getting to know and talking with employees.
Tips for Facilitating Skip Level Interviews
– Don’t make the meeting too formal. Employees need to feel comfortable and trust you to share what’s on their minds.
– Schedule skip level meetings regularly. Schedule them at least once a year.
– Meeting should be in closed office to facilitate honest conversations and dialogue.
– Meetings should be 30-45 minutes in length.
– Questions should be open-ended to drive discussion. Refrain from questions where the response is yes or no.
– Quickly act, address and follow through on important topics and issues that arose from the meeting.
What Employees Should You Meet With for Skip Level Interviews?
If you are experiencing increased turnover rates or are fearful that turnover will increase, skip levels are a great way to get ahead of a mass employ exodus. Personally, I love skip level interviews as a way for managers to interact with employees directly especially those hard to fill roles or for high-potential or essential employees. Most any employee group can be selected for skip level interviews, and I would encourage that you start with where you are experiencing higher turnover or are anticipating the market to be more challenging for hiring. Skip level interviews can be focused on specific locations and geography or by job titles or segments of the business.
Nine Skip Level Interview Questions to Ask
– What do you like most about working here?
– How do you hear about if you have done something well?
– What do you like most about your job?
– What things would you change or improve about your job, department or at the company?
– What career interests or aspirations do you have with us?
– How does your boss recognize you for good performance or a job well done?
– What resources, information and support do you need to be more successful in your job?
– If you experience a problem or roadblock, where do you go for support and solutions?
– What’s one thing that is working well for our company?
Skip level meetings are a great way to engage and build relationships with the employee population quickly. No matter what the job market, they are a great way to build trust and allow employees to talk not just to their direct manager but skipping a level above. They also easily support your existing or upcoming employee retention efforts at your organization. Skip level interviews are most effective when leaders don’t just go through the motions but take the time to build real, meaningful relationships. From these meetings and conversations the leader learns more about the employees, their work environment and can take meaningful action from the feedback they received during the meetings to help drive employee retention programs.