Ten Actionable Steps To Facilitating Great Skip-Level Meetings Part 2

Untitled design(8) In Part 1 of Ten Actionable Steps to Facilitating Great Skip-Level Meetings, we discussed how despite many attempts Bob, a business owner, could not get three of his eight teams to have higher engagement.  He knew he was missing the front-line’s perceptions of what was dragging down their engagement.   

In Part 1, we discussed the first four Actionable Steps.  They were:

  • As the leader, sit down with your manager and get the manager’s buy-in for a Skip-Level Meeting.
  • If you haven’t communicated much two levels down, start doing so months before the Skip-Level Meeting is solicited.
  • You and manager send a joint email to the manager’s team.
  • Create a safe environment.

Below are six other actionable steps Bob took to facilitate great Skip-Level Meetings:

  • Ask open-ended questions and do not judge or correct the answers. Just empathize and take in the responses.

This is a time when you want to turn on your curiosity and eliminate all judgment.  

As best as possible, ask questions from a positive vantage point. Some examples include:

  • What do you like most about being on the team?
  • What tools or resources have you found most helpful?  Why?
  • If you could wave a magic wand, what is one thing you would do to make the team even better?
  • Tell me about a time when your manager was most helpful to you.
  • If you were in your manager’s shoes:
    • What would you be focusing on?
    • What would you be doing more of?
    • What would you be doing less of?
  • What questions haven’t I asked that I should have asked?
  • What can I answer for you?
  • Utilize strategic storytelling.

When you sense one of the responses has a story behind it, ask for the story behind it.   Tell them what themes you hear in their story.

Find an opening to share a story that cements a key message or belief you want them to walk away with.  Ask them what they got from your story.  

  • Ask clarifying questions as you go.

If you are unclear about something they are sharing, ask questions until you are clear.  Among other things, asking clarifying questions shows that you value what they have to say and want to take it all in.

  • Thank them for their time verbally and in writing.

Thank them for spending the time with you and share what you especially found helpful.  Assure them that you heard them and will take what they had to say seriously.  Let them know that you will be weighing what everyone shares with you, and that you will be discussing their concerns, in order of importance, as you coach their manager. Ask them to be patient as you implement.

Then the next day or so, send them a thank-you email. Let them know that if they have anything else to share, they should feel free to email or call you.

  • Develop a strategy with the manager and execute.

Once you have interviewed everyone, look for themes and create a safe environment with the manager.  Share that you are looking to make things even better, and that you want their help in creating strategies to do so.

Discuss the themes you discovered with the manager.  

Gain the manager’s feedback on those themes.

Develop strategies to strengthen what could be strengthened and to meet the opportunities that were presented.

  • Follow-up.

Decide with the manager how you want to follow up with the group.  You could send the group a summary of the key themes. You could also share what you and the manager will start to work on, and solicit the group’s encouragement and possible help.

Skip-Level Meetings can be an empowering, motivating, and informative way to increase engagement and move the business to new heights.

Chew On This:

  • What would seeing your business from the eyes of your front-line do for you?

*This blog is a compilation of three different clients.  No one particular client is being singled out.

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.