Second-Level Managers: What are they and what do they do?
In This Guide
- What is a second-level manager?
- Tips for Second-Level Managers
- Steps to Begin Skip Level Meetings
- Questions to Ask in Skip Level Meetings
What is a second-level manager?
You are a second level-manager if...
- You manage other managers
- Your direct reports have direct reports of their own
Why does this matter?
- A second-level manager provides a model of leadership for others in the office
- Set goals and vision for the department
- Ensures necessary conversations are taking place among managers and employees
Tips for Second-Level Managers
- Have regular 'skip level' meetings
Skip level meetings help you understand the front line operations. You are able to get honest feedback from employees about their managers (your direct reports) and understand the perceptions about leadership. Skip level meetings can bring clarity to issues causing problems within your teams and allows for information to flow upward.
One of the most important reasons to conduct skip level meetings is because it communicates that you, as the leader, care about each of the employees in your team. These meetings also build trust among all levels in the department by providing ways for employees at every level to provide feedback.
- Lead by example
Model the behavior you hope to teach your managers. Demonstrate examples of coaching by providing leadership development, opportunities for career growth, and how to have effective one-on-one conversations.
- Ask intentional questions during check-ins with your managers
- Ask questions that focus on how your managers are leading their teams and working with others.
- Ask questions that prompt managers to look for solutions to challenges they face in their teams.
Ensure that your questions reiterate the autonomy you give your managers, but also communicate a desire to coach and be available.
Steps to Begin Skip Level Meetings
- Explain to managers.
Share the value in having these conversations and how it can benefit them. This also creates transparency and opens a doorway to have follow-up conversations as needed.
- Explain to skip-level employees.
Help them understand why you want to have these meeting, and what you hope to gain.
- Schedule meetings with employees.
There are many ways to schedule meetings: post a sign-up sheet on your door, individually email employees with several time options, or find another solution that works best for your team.
- Follow up with employees.
Ensure you follow up with the employee and make a point to express gratitude for what you learned through the conversation. Reiterate your openness to have more conversations.
Questions to Ask in Skip Level Meetings
- What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
- What activities do you enjoy doing with your family?
- How did you become involved with_____ (activity/passion/hobby)?
- Questions to get feedback about managers
Ensure that the responses you get here are not person-focused, but rather action-oriented.
- How can you be better supported by your manager?
- Do you feel like you are getting adequate levels of feedback?
- What are your career goals? Do you feel like you are making career progress?
- Are there enough resources available for you to succeed?
- How do you think your manager handled _____ situation?
- What are the greatest and most challenging aspects of working with your manager?
- Is there anything you wish was handled differently on this team?
- Feedback on the team overall
- Are there any roadblocks the team may be experiencing?
- Do you have any scheduling concerns with your workload?
- Have there been any changes to the department? If so, and how they are handling said change?
- Who on the team deserves recognition and why?
- What do you think the team is doing well, and what needs to change?