Let’s Have a Conversation – Skip Interviews

This is the second in a series of posts about some of my favorite conversations to have – stay, skip, and exit interviews.

Conversations don’t just magically happen on their own. They especially don’t magically happen upwards. If you want to know what’s going on with your front-line and mid-level employees, you have to ask them. Directly, repeatedly, and in a few different ways.

This is why I advocate for stay, skip, and exit interviews. Each of them will bring up different insights from different perspectives. All of them are good to do on a regular basis. I think of them as preventative care.

Skip interviews, also called skip level interviews, are conversations between an employee and their manager’s manager. Their value is twofold: giving employees an opportunity to get in front of leadership, and getting leadership more in tune with what’s happening on the ground with their teams.

Much like stay interviews, you never know what will come up in these conversations. Maybe an employee is curious to get more insight into a recent business decision. Maybe they have an idea they’re excited to run by leadership. Maybe they’re struggling with their relationship with their direct manager and are considering leaving the company because of that. Or maybe they’re excited for executive feedback on their own work.

What’s key is creating the space for front-line employees to share what’s on their mind. It’s easy to say, “I have an open door policy!” but I’ve found this is an area where it’s more effective for leaders to directly demonstrate that they are available to talk. Plenty of front-line employees have told me that they don’t know leadership well and that they aren’t comfortable reaching out. Leaders must be the one to create that space.

By purposefully creating that space though, leaders lower the barriers of future communication. They build rapport and trust, and make it that much easier for people to reach out to them in the future. And that’s what you want – a team that knows the door is truly open.

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