How to Make Skip-Level Meetings Unmissable
To truly master your craft, teach it to others.
So argues education researcher Ulrich Boser, who recently spoke to the power of mutual teaching in The Atlantic. Boser sees the act of coaching a colleague on the minutiae of work as an opportunity to work through mental snags and crystallize one’s understanding of the subject.
“You’re explaining how things are interconnected and why they matter,” Boser said. “You have to think about what is confusing about something and how you’d explain that in a simpler way — it makes you shift the way that you’re thinking about a certain topic.”
For managers and individual contributors stepping into a skip-level meeting, this mindset can open the door to a mutually impactful experience. The unfamiliarity of a skip-level meeting can leave the conversation feeling stilted, but leading with an open mind creates space for learning, growth and mutual understanding for both parties.
For Nacie Pereira, director of talent development at Rue Gilt Groupe, the first step of an effective meeting is being open to learning from cohorts of all levels.
“Ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from the person in front of me?’” Perieira said. The other person, whether they are the CEO or a brand-new associate, has access to different information than you.
“Be open and curious,” she added.
Built In Boston sat down with Pereira to learn more about using skip-level meetings as a platform for mutual teaching, self-advocacy, frank conversation and more.
Rue Gilt Groupe is an e-commerce portfolio company that aims to connect more than 35 million shoppers with in-demand labels and designers at an exceptional value. Three complementary brands — Gilt, Rue La La, and Shop Premium Outlets — leverage technology to support brand partners and engage shoppers. On the subject of skip-level meetings, Director of Talent Development Nacie Pereira celebrates the mutual value for both parties. “These meetings are valuable opportunities to deepen your understanding of your organization,” Perieira said. “For some, skip-levels give more visibility into the bigger picture. For others, they help understand the day-to-day details into which you may not have visibility.”
Ideally, what do you get out of a productive skip-level meeting?
Whether you are the more junior or senior individual in a skip-level meeting, the experience offers you a chance to expand your perspective, build relationships and surface information that could spark impactful insights.
Finally, they can help you build your brand, as either a leader or an individual contributor. In my role as director of talent development at Rue Gilt Groupe, I frequently have skip-level meetings with both our executives and specialist-level associates.
These meetings help me understand how to position learning within the organization — as well as the mechanics of how we can make certain initiatives happen. I’m able to share insights that help connect dots and reinforce my brand as a performance-focused motivator.
Why are skip-level meetings important to you?
In my field of talent development, having a pulse on how the organization feels and what it needs across multiple levels is crucial to driving the right kinds of development initiatives. When I connect with our executive team in my skip-level meetings, I get important insight into market factors, enterprise-level strategy and long-term vision that informs what we need to excel.
When I connect with our more junior associates, I get insight into how our broad employee population is feeling, what they are hungry to learn and what the day-to-day reality of their work looks like. I need both these perspectives to build a plan for how we can support our organization’s goals through talent development.
Ask your meeting companion what you can do to support them.”
What tips would you share with someone in a team that’s starting to run skip-level meetings?
Remember that these meetings are chances for you to build your brand. Think about what you want this person to know or understand about you, and how you can go about communicating that to them.
Do you want them to know you are working on a certain project? Do you want them to know you value their input? Do you want them to know you are capable, motivated, concerned or frustrated? How can your actions, the information you share and the questions you ask reinforce what you want them to know?
Third, ask your meeting companion what you can do to support them. It’s a powerful question that reinforces the fact that while we may all work at different levels in the organization, what we all have in common is that we are working together toward the same goal: the success of our organization.