I'm new to my mgr position (3 months) and my directs (team leaders) are former peers from 2 promotions ago. So I do have (I think) a good relationship with my skips, since I used to manage them directly (using a lot of the MT tools - O3's, feedback, etc)

It's now time for performance reviews, and I'm planning to do skip level meetings to gather 360 feedback on my directs. I have the following questions planned to cover during the skip level meetings:

is your supervisor approachable/available to you
does your supervisor coach you well
do you feel you can communicate openly with your supervisor
(there's one more but I can't remember it)

I'm also asking my director to have the same skip level meeting with my directs, asking the same question (trying to reduce uncertainty for my directs).

My question is - I can't help feeling like I'm just encouraging the skips to "narc" on their boss, although to some degree I suppose I am. What I'm trying to do is gather feedback to use in coaching them and setting direction for them for the next year coming up, which we can then review progress and so on during the year.

Any suggestions for how to handle this? I'm planning to have the meetings next week. (I'm going to listen this weekend to the skip level podcasts so hopefully these questions are already addressed :D )

bflynn's picture

Short advice - don't use skip levels this way. Use skip level meetings to find out about processes and such that may not be running the way you'd like. It feel like you're asking people to rat out their bosses because that is exactly what you're doing. You should have skip levels, but don't use them for the purpose of investigating your directs.

Sit down with each direct and talk this out directly. Ask them to prepare a list of their achievements and use that on their reviews. If you have to do a 360 review, start with the list of achievements and use that as a list to ask others involved in the achievement how this person performed. You are not looking for exceptions, you are looking for indications of performance.

For coaching, have a direct talk with them about their deficiencies. They have them and they know it. You don't want the semi-evasive answer from the "Tell me about a weakness" interview question. Take what they give you as truth for now and go forward with coaching on that. If you find out later that your direct has a more serious issue that requires coaching, you'll change later.

Do the best you can with what you have.


aspiringceo's picture

Another short and quick bit of advice listen to the registered users cast "How to ask for basic feedback" .
To quote M&M [quote="Mike + Mark"]" This cast teaches you a basic, simple, easy, low investment, low (zero) cost, easily repeatable, hard to mess up, gets-better-when-you-repeat it every-once-in-awhile technique for beginning to learn how you’re doing as a manager."[/quote]


dolphin's picture

Thanks for the replies...I had the skip levels with people, left out the topic of my directs altogether and asked them for feedback on how they felt things were going in the department. They gave me 1.5 pages of suggestions for things we could do differently within the department :-)

on the 360 questions, based on some feedback on the whole idea from one of my directs, I did the 360 review questions as a separate "review your manager" form that the skips could fill out in anonymously. From those I've gotten some good input into areas my directs can improve and areas they are doing great in, from the perspective of their directs.

Thanks for the comments!

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Hey Brian, thanks for covering for me there.

Good Lord NO. You can't use skip levels that way.

And be careful about asking skips for too much anyway, when it comes to reviews. Systemically, sure...but not FOR reviews.

Sorry for my delay.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

And one more thing.

Doing 360's as you did is incredibly dangerous. I would bet $1,000 right now that you have compromised your integrity to your staff right now. You have essentially openly asked for negative feedback on others... what's more, their boss.

360's are a seriously powerful tool and 90% of the time bring more tears than joy. Don't kid yourself - you're not the exception.

Scary bad.


tokyotony's picture


I would also like to ask you something...if your boss did the same with your directs, how would you feel?

I've had this happen to me before (but not as formal as you had planned), and I no longer felt I could trust my manager.