IN
CHORUS
January 2020
How I started
skip level 1:1s
guide

Recently I set up 12 recurring one on ones for the people that are managed by the managers I’m responsible for. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time and kept putting it off. It was one of those things I couldn't muster the activation energy to start.

Last Friday I finally set aside the time to do some research. There’s a ton of advice about the best way to do this and even huge libraries of all the questions you could or should ask.

A big thanks to Know Your Team whose guide I adapted to do this myself.

Here’s what I did.

1. Gave my managers a heads up

Since skip levels involve talking about managers, make sure you give these people some time to understand the process and ask questions. I encouraged the managers I coach to talk to my boss as well. Here’s what I wrote to them:

I plan to start running skip level 1:1s. The purpose of a skip level is to talk to people you don’t often work with, build relationships with them, and learn about how they’ve been working with their managers.
We’ll cycle through questions from a variety of topics like company direction, upcoming projects, context for strategic decisions, interactions with managers, and perceptions of teams.
The meeting is more about listening and understanding problems than solving them. It’s also a way for managers to get feedback when their coaching relationships aren’t as strong as they could be. Though direct feedback from coachee to coach is what we’re shooting for long term, this can be a good stop gap.
I’d like to encourage y’all to talk to «boss» using the same skip level format. I spoke with «boss» today about setting these up with the people I coach.

2. Messaged everybody

Give some context for the new meeting with their boss’s boss. Make sure to CC their manager.

Hi «coachee»,
I’m starting something called skip level 1:1s. They’re a chance to catch up, connect more than we usually do, and talk about what’s working or not working at «company».
I’ll bring a few questions. If there’s anything on your mind, we can go through that first. Ideas for improving your team, observations you think I should know about, and feedback on your manager are all good topics. I’m also happy to fill in the gaps where you feel out of the loop.
Look for a recurring calendar invite from me. I’ll schedule these for Mondays or Fridays so that I’m not loading up the middle of your week with meetings.

3. Did the calendar Tetris

Somehow this went pretty smoothly for me. At first I was overwhelmed by the prospect of adding 12 recurring meetings to my calendar. In the end, I set aside three hours a week. I used Google Calendar’s recurring option for Monthlyon the first|second|third|fourthMonday|Friday.

Finally, I added an agenda with my favorite questions from the research.

This meeting is more about listening and understanding problems than solving them. It’s also a way for managers to get feedback when their coaching relationships aren’t as strong as they could be. Though direct feedback from coachee to coach is what we’re shooting for long term, this can be a good stop gap.
I’ve added a few questions below to get the conversation started. If there’s anything on your mind, we can go through that first. Ideas for improving your team, observations you think I should know about, and feedback on your manager are all good topics. I’m also happy to fill in the gaps where you feel out of the loop.

Questions

  • Who would like to learn more from?
  • Who makes those around them better? How?
  • Tell me a time your manager supported you to achieve a goal.
  • What’s your favorite book / podcast / movie lately?
  • What’s one thing everyone around me isn’t telling me?

Wrap up

Matt from encoro

I’m Matt ⚡, making encoro for 360° feedback. Want to easily get feedback from your skips? Give it a try for free.