How to Prepare for a Skip-Level Meeting in 5 Easy Steps

Preparing for a Skip-Level Meeting as an Employee in 5 Simple Steps

Skip-level meetings might sound intimidating at first glance, but they’re actually fantastic opportunities to connect with higher-ups, share insights, and showcase your contribution to the company. If you’re searching for a quick guide on how to navigate these meetings effectively:

  1. Understand the Purpose – Know why the meeting is happening.
  2. Prepare Your Questions and Insights – Think about what you want to ask and what updates you can share.
  3. Know Your Achievements – Be ready to discuss what you’ve accomplished.
  4. Consider Your Challenges – Identify any obstacles you’re facing.
  5. Follow Up – Make a plan to follow up on any actions or commitments.

These are the keys to turning a potentially nerve-wracking experience into a positive and productive interaction.

Skip-level meetings bridge the gap between different levels of an organization, offering a rare chance to speak directly with someone several tiers above your immediate supervisor. For employees, these meetings are golden opportunities to gain new perspectives, express ideas directly to company leadership, and obtain feedback on personal and team performance.

Understanding the structure and intent behind these meetings can dismantle any anxiety surrounding them. Matters like professional growth, team dynamics, and organizational challenges are often at the forefront, providing a broad spectrum of discussion topics. Additionally, the insights gathered during these conversations can help senior management make informed decisions, fostering a culture of openness and constructive dialogue.

Benefits include personal visibility within the organization, direct feedback, actionable career advice, and the chance to influence decision-making processes. Opportunities for improvement, innovative ideas, and professional development plans often emerge from these discussions, making them invaluable for both employees and management.

Skip-level meetings should not be cause for alarm but seen as stepping stones for professional advancement and deeper organizational integration.

Infographic detailing how to prepare for a skip-level meeting, focusing on understanding the meeting's purpose, preparing questions and insights, knowing your achievements, considering your challenges, and planning follow-up actions. - how to prepare for a skip-level meeting as an employee infographic infographic-line-5-steps

Understanding Skip-Level Meetings

In the landscape of corporate communication, skip-level meetings stand out as a unique opportunity for employees to directly engage with their higher-ups, bypassing their immediate supervisors. These meetings are more than just a chat; they’re a strategic tool designed to foster open lines of communication across different levels of an organization.


Simply put, a skip-level meeting is a one-on-one or group meeting where employees interact with their manager’s manager or higher, without their direct manager being present. This setup encourages candid discussions and provides a platform for unfiltered feedback.


The core aim of skip-level meetings is to bridge the gap between various levels within an organization. They serve multiple purposes:
Insight Gathering: Senior management can obtain insights into the day-to-day operations and challenges faced by their teams.
Feedback Loop: It allows employees to voice concerns, share ideas, and provide feedback that might not be communicated through regular channels.
Mentorship and Guidance: Employees can seek career advice and mentorship directly from leadership, fostering professional growth.
Transparency and Trust: These meetings build trust across the organization by promoting transparency and direct communication.


Skip-level meetings can vary based on their objectives and the participants involved. They can be:
Informal Check-ins: Casual conversations to build rapport and discuss general well-being.
Feedback Sessions: Focused discussions on specific feedback, ideas, or concerns.
Career Development Talks: Conversations centered around career aspirations, growth opportunities, and professional development.


The frequency of skip-level meetings can depend on the size of the organization, the availability of senior management, and specific departmental needs. Some organizations conduct them quarterly, while others may opt for a more or less frequent schedule. The key is to ensure these meetings are regular enough to be meaningful but not so frequent that they become routine check-ins devoid of substantial conversation.

Understanding the essence of skip-level meetings is crucial for how to prepare for a skip-level meeting as an employee. Recognizing their purpose and structure can help you approach these meetings with confidence, armed with relevant questions and prepared to engage in meaningful dialogue. Whether it’s sharing innovative ideas, seeking feedback, or discussing career aspirations, knowing what to expect can make all the difference in maximizing the opportunity these meetings present.

Skip-level meetings are not just about the here and now; they’re about shaping your future within the company and contributing to its broader mission. With this understanding, you’re better equipped to make the most of the opportunity, ensuring a productive and insightful exchange that benefits both you and your organization.

Step 1: Set Clear Objectives

When you’re gearing up for a skip-level meeting, think of it as setting out on a journey. Before you even take the first step, you need to know where you’re going. This is where setting clear objectives comes into play. It’s not just about having a chat; it’s about making that chat count. Let’s break it down into manageable parts: agenda creation, goals, expectations, and transparency.

Agenda Creation

First things first, you need an agenda. Think of it as your roadmap. Without it, you’re just wandering. An effective agenda will outline the topics you want to cover, keeping the conversation focused and productive. Time is precious for both you and your skip-level manager. A well-thought-out agenda shows respect for their time and yours.

  • Start with Introductions: If this is your first time having a one-on-one, begin with a brief introduction. Share a bit about your role, your achievements, and your aspirations within the company.
  • Outline Your Discussion Points: Clearly list the topics you want to discuss. This could include feedback on your performance, ideas for company improvement, or questions about career development.


Know what you want to achieve. Are you looking for guidance on a particular project? Insights into potential career paths within the company? Or maybe you have ideas to improve efficiency that you’d like to share. Whatever your goals, be specific. This clarity will not only help guide the conversation but also ensure that you leave the meeting with actionable insights.


Be open about what you hope to get out of the meeting. If you’re seeking feedback, say so. If you want to understand more about the company’s future direction, make that clear. Setting these expectations early on helps your skip-level manager provide the support or information you need.


The foundation of a successful skip-level meeting is honesty. It’s about creating a space where you can share openly without fear of repercussions. This means being candid about your challenges and receptive to feedback. It also means respecting the confidentiality of the discussion. What’s said in the room stays in the room.

  • Feedback Loop: Encourage a two-way exchange. While you’re there to learn, your insights as someone on the ground can be invaluable to your skip-level manager.

  • Actionable Takeaways: End with a summary of key points discussed and any agreed-upon next steps. This ensures both you and your manager are on the same page and have a clear plan moving forward.

Setting clear objectives for your skip-level meeting is like laying the groundwork for a successful project. It ensures that both you and your skip-level manager come prepared, making the most of this unique opportunity to connect, learn, and grow. Preparation is key. With a solid agenda, specific goals, clear expectations, and a commitment to transparency, you’re setting the stage for a productive and insightful conversation that can help shape your career and contribute to the company’s success.

And now, with your objectives set and your agenda ready, you’re ready to move on to the next step: preparing your questions. This is where you get to dive deeper into the specifics of what you want to learn and share during your skip-level meeting.

Step 2: Prepare Your Questions

When you’re figuring out how to prepare for a skip-level meeting as an employee, it’s like preparing for a big game or a performance. You’ve got to know your lines, understand the play, and most importantly, know what questions to ask. Here’s how to get your questions ready:

Innovative Ideas

  • What’s New? Think about what new ideas or innovations you can bring to the table. Maybe you’ve noticed a process that could be improved or have an idea for a new project. Ask, “How open is the company to new ideas from employees, and what’s the best way to share them?”

Company Strategy

  • Big Picture Thinking: Understanding the company’s strategy is like having a map when you’re on a road trip. It helps you know where you’re going. Ask, “Can you share insights into the company’s long-term strategy and how my role contributes to achieving these goals?”

Career Aspirations

  • Your Path: This is about where you want to go on your career journey. Think about what skills you want to develop or the next steps you’re aiming for. Ask, “Based on my current role and skills, what additional experiences or skills should I focus on to align with my career aspirations within the company?”

Challenges & Blockers

  • Roadblocks Ahead: Every job has its hurdles. Identifying these early can help you navigate them more effectively. Share specific challenges you’re facing and ask, “Have you seen similar challenges in the company, and how were they addressed? Do you have any advice on how I can overcome these obstacles?”

Feedback & Guidance

  • Learning and Growing: Feedback is like the coach’s advice during halftime. It’s crucial for improvement. Ask, “Can you provide feedback on my performance and areas where I can improve? How can I contribute more effectively to the team and the company?”

The goal of these questions isn’t just to get answers but to engage in a meaningful conversation that can help you grow and contribute more effectively to the company. Be ready to listen, take notes, and most importantly, be open to the feedback and insights you receive. This step is your opportunity to bridge gaps, seek guidance, and align your efforts with the company’s goals and your career aspirations.

And as you prepare these questions, keep in mind that the tone of the conversation is just as important. Approach the meeting with curiosity and a genuine desire to learn and improve. This attitude will not only help you get the most out of the meeting but also leave a positive impression on your skip-level manager.

After preparing your questions and setting the stage for a constructive dialogue, you’re well on your way to making the most of your skip-level meeting. Next, we’ll explore how to build rapport and establish a positive connection from the get-go.

Step 3: Build Rapport

Building rapport in a skip-level meeting is like planting seeds in a garden. You’re laying the groundwork for future growth, trust, and communication. Here’s how to nurture that connection:


Start with a smile and a warm greeting. The goal is to break the ice, not chip away at an iceberg. Share a light, work-appropriate anecdote or ask about hobbies, interests, or recent events. For example, “Did you catch the latest episode of [popular TV show]? I found it fascinating!” This approach sets a friendly tone for the rest of the conversation.

Personal Achievements

Don’t be shy about sharing your achievements, but keep it relevant and concise. This is your chance to shine without overshadowing the purpose of the meeting. You might say, “I’m really proud of how our team came together on the recent project. It was a challenge, but seeing the positive impact on our clients made it all worthwhile.” This shows your commitment to the company’s success and your role in it.

Company Culture

Discussing company culture is a fantastic way to connect on a deeper level. Express what aspects of the culture you appreciate and why. It could be the collaborative environment, the emphasis on innovation, or even the company’s community involvement. For instance, “I really admire our company’s commitment to sustainability. It’s something I’m passionate about personally, and it’s great to see it reflected in our work.”

Building rapport is about finding common ground and establishing a connection that goes beyond job titles. It’s about showing genuine interest in the person you’re speaking with and the company you both contribute to.

As you navigate this step, keep the conversation light yet meaningful. The rapport you build here not only makes the meeting more enjoyable but also lays the foundation for open, honest communication. With this positive connection established, you’re ready to move into more targeted discussions about feedback and professional growth.

Next, we’ll dive into how to seek and offer feedback effectively, ensuring that your skip-level meeting is not just a pleasant conversation but a stepping stone to real professional development.

Step 4: Seek and Offer Feedback

Feedback is the heartbeat of professional growth. It’s how we learn what we’re doing well and where we can improve. In a skip-level meeting, you have a unique chance to get insights straight from a senior leader. Let’s break down how to make the most of this opportunity.

Performance Insights

Start by asking for feedback on your recent projects or contributions. Keep it specific. For example, “Could you share your thoughts on how I handled the XYZ project?” This question shows you’re keen on understanding your impact from a higher perspective.

The goal is to learn, not just to hear praise. Be prepared for constructive criticism and view it as a gift. It’s a chance to see your work through a lens you might not have access to otherwise.

Improvement Areas

This part can be a bit daunting, but it’s crucial. Ask, “What areas do you think I could improve on?” or “Based on what you know, how can I grow in my role?” These questions open the door for actionable feedback that you can use to chart your development path.

Don’t take any critique personally. Instead, see it as a roadmap to becoming even better at what you do. It’s not about what you’re doing wrong but about where you can grow.

Mentorship Opportunities

A skip-level meeting is a perfect time to discuss mentorship. If the senior leader has expertise in areas you’re interested in, ask if they can share their knowledge or recommend resources. You might say, “I’m really interested in learning more about [topic]. Do you have any advice or resources you recommend?”

Also, inquire about opportunities within the company that could help you advance. “Are there any projects or teams you think I could learn a lot from?” This shows you’re proactive about your growth and eager to contribute more broadly.

By approaching feedback with an open mind and a willingness to grow, you turn insights into action. This step isn’t just about hearing how you’re doing; it’s about laying the groundwork for where you want to go. In the next section, we’ll explore how to take the feedback and discussions from your skip-level meeting and turn them into a concrete action plan for your professional development.

Step 5: Follow-Up and Action Plan

After your skip-level meeting, you’re not quite done yet. The real value comes from what you do next. Let’s break down how to wrap things up with a bow and set the stage for your growth.

Key Takeaways

First, sift through your notes and identify the main points from the meeting. Did you learn about new company initiatives you could contribute to? Or maybe you discussed specific challenges in your role or department. Highlight these key takeaways clearly. They’re your map to where you need to focus your efforts.

Follow-up Items

Next, list out any follow-up items. These could be tasks assigned to you during the meeting, like a project to lead or a new skill to learn. Or perhaps you offered to provide more information on a topic you discussed. Whatever it is, make it specific and set a deadline for yourself. This shows initiative and keeps you accountable.

  • Task: Lead a project on X.
  • Deadline: End of Q3.
  • Action: Schedule a planning session by next week.

Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is the name of the game. Based on the feedback and insights you received, identify areas for your personal and professional development. Here’s a simple framework to organize your thoughts:

  • Strengths to Leverage: What are you good at, and how can you use these skills more effectively?
  • Areas for Development: Where can you improve, and what resources do you need?
  • Learning Opportunities: Are there courses, workshops, or mentorship opportunities available?
  • Career Aspirations: How do the insights from the meeting align with your career goals?

The goal isn’t to overhaul everything overnight. Pick one or two areas to focus on and set realistic, measurable goals for improvement.

Example Action Plan:

  • Goal: Improve project management skills.
  • Action Steps:
  • Enroll in an online course on project management by next month.
  • Apply one new technique learned from the course to your next project.
  • Measure of Success: Lead a project with a 10% improvement in delivery time.

Setting Up for Success

Finally, think about how you can apply the insights from your skip-level meeting to your day-to-day work. This might mean taking on new responsibilities, changing how you communicate with your team, or even shifting your approach to problem-solving.

  • New Responsibilities: Volunteer for projects that align with your career aspirations.
  • Communication: Implement one new communication strategy in your team meetings.
  • Problem-Solving: Apply a new problem-solving technique to a current challenge.

The follow-up from your skip-level meeting is a crucial step in your professional development. It’s your opportunity to take control of your career trajectory, demonstrate your commitment to growth, and contribute more effectively to your team and organization. Keep the momentum going by regularly reviewing your action plan, adjusting as needed, and celebrating your progress along the way.

As we move into the next section, we’ll tackle some common questions about skip-level meetings to help you navigate them with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions about Skip-Level Meetings

When it comes to understanding how to prepare for a skip-level meeting as an employee, several common questions tend to arise. Let’s dive into these to give you a clearer picture and further confidence as you step into your next skip-level meeting.

Who Initiates Skip-Level Meetings?

Typically, skip-level meetings are initiated by upper management or the manager’s manager. The idea is to bypass direct supervisors occasionally to get unfiltered feedback from employees and understand their perspective. However, it’s not uncommon for employees to request such meetings if they feel it’s necessary for their professional growth or to address specific concerns. It’s a good idea to keep your direct manager in the loop if you’re taking this initiative to maintain transparency and trust.

What to Expect During a Skip-Level Meeting?

Skip-level meetings can vary in format, but generally, you can expect a focus on open dialogue. Topics might range from discussing your role and contributions to the company, your team’s dynamics, any challenges you’re facing, and your professional development aspirations. It’s also a chance for upper management to share company vision and updates, making it a two-way exchange of insights. The tone is usually informal, aiming to build rapport and trust between employees and senior leadership.

How to Address Concerns About Your Manager or Work Issues?

This can be tricky, but it’s important to approach such topics with tact and professionalism. If you have concerns about your manager or specific work issues, focus on the situation or behavior rather than the person. Offer constructive feedback and be ready with suggestions for improvement. It’s also beneficial to frame your concerns in the context of your team or company’s goals, showing that your feedback is coming from a place of wanting to contribute to overall success. The goal of a skip-level meeting is not to complain but to find solutions and foster better understanding.

Skip-level meetings are a valuable opportunity for you to connect with senior leadership, gain new perspectives, and discuss your career path and aspirations. By keeping these FAQs in mind, you’ll be better prepared to make the most of these discussions and contribute more effectively to your team and organization.

As we’ve explored how to prepare for a skip-level meeting as an employee, it’s clear that these meetings offer a unique platform for open communication and professional growth. With the right preparation and mindset, you can navigate these meetings successfully and make a positive impact on your career and the organization.


In wrapping up our guide on how to prepare for a skip-level meeting as an employee, we’ve delved into the steps that can help you make the most of these opportunities. From setting clear objectives to following up with an action plan, each phase is crucial for leveraging the full potential of skip-level meetings. But the journey doesn’t end here. At Profit Leap, we believe in the power of continuous learning and professional development as cornerstones of career growth.

Continuous Learning: The business landscape is changing, with new technologies, methodologies, and best practices emerging regularly. Skip-level meetings are a prime opportunity to discover areas where you can expand your knowledge and skills. By staying curious and committed to learning, you position yourself as a valuable asset to your team and the wider organization.

Professional Development: These meetings also offer a rare chance to discuss your career path with senior leadership. Use this time to seek advice, mentorship, and feedback on how you can progress within the company. Professional growth is a journey that requires proactive planning and open dialogue about your aspirations and potential.

At Profit Leap, our commitment to fostering a culture of growth and innovation is unwavering. We understand that the success of our organization is intricately linked to the development of our team members. That’s why we encourage employees to embrace skip-level meetings as opportunities to voice their ideas, learn from experienced leaders, and shape their career trajectories.

As you move forward, preparation, active participation, and follow-up are key to maximizing the benefits of skip-level meetings. Approach these discussions with an open mind, a willingness to learn, and a readiness to contribute to the company’s success. Together, we can achieve remarkable things.

Let’s continue to grow, innovate, and lead with confidence. Your journey of professional development is just beginning, and at Profit Leap, we’re here to support you every step of the way.