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Skip Level Meetings are Features, Not Bugs, of your Role

Too often I, and many of the marketing leaders I know, get so caught up in board-level projects and strategy that we barely have time to make for our direct reports. And hopefully they're senior enough that they don't need a ton of instruction and guidance.

But the folks working for them actually do. And I've found that one of the best ways to get to know my team and to identify any issues that may be percolating in the organization is to have regular skip-level meetings with their direct reports (and on down the organization).

On the one hand, seeing 30 1/2 hour meetings on your calendar is one of more stressful things I've come across when they all get scheduled. It makes me think of the parent/teacher conferences that I know my son's teacher has to endure throughout the year--they just spend 8 hours with these ruffians and then they have 3 nights of parents trapsing through on top of their day job--not fun.

No I said skip levels were a feature, NOT a bug

But almost to a person I've found that when I do invest this time that it pays off double for my trouble. Everyone is appreciative, everyone has something on their mind, everyone knows that I'm investing in them and seeing where I can help them out. Try to find 1 nugget of information with everyone you spend time with; have some topics you want them to come to the meeting with; treat every meeting like a 60 minutes interview, determined to get some insight about them or their work or their manager that you previously lacked.

You'll come away with a lot of respect from the broader team, especially if you can identify any trends or issues that then you can bring up and deal with or head off at the pass. And it will give you a better command of your organization and how to make it work for you.

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