Hello all,

First of all, a sincere thanks to Mark and Mike for this great public service. I have been listening to the podcast for several years and have attempted to use advice (like the management Trinity) in my daily management.

My question is this - if a staff meeting's purpose is more efficient organizational and team communication, should I allow my direct's directs to be at the meeting on a regular basis?

The downsides I see are 1) the potential of my directs to be less candid in front of her/his direct, 2) taking time away from my direct's direct weekly billable time.

I hope I'm not over-thinking this one. Thanks in advance for your answers, folks. And thanks again to Mike and Mark for the fantastic work.


tlhausmann's picture
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Your direct's directs are called "skips."

The Manager Tools advice is to not have skips at all staff meetings. However, there is counsel to consider skips at other meetings.

Here are two casts on the subject:


Mark's picture
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The purpose of staff meetings is not efficient communication, but rather effective communication.

Don't invite the skips.  Require that your directs do their job in communicating with them.


andrewshack's picture

Mark -- Thanks for the clarification. And thanks again for all your and Mike's hard work!

TL - Appreciate the vocab lesson and links.

ashdenver's picture

We have three staff meetings a week.  Tues, Weds, Thurs from 9:15 to 10am.  On the Tues meeting, the ancillary players are invited (the tech supports, the HR "business partner" and so forth.)  Beyond that though, aside from only the occasional Guest Speaker, it's just for us (as directs) with our boss.  We are never invited to the meeting with my boss, his peers and their boss.  Nor are our directs invited to the Tue-Thu staff meetings with our boss.  Occasionally, there will be an All Hands meeting with any permutation of the players -- from the Division VP down to my directs or just my boss's group & those directs. 

But no, skips are not invited.  Part of the 'test' of our ability to be effective managers is for our/my boss to see how well I do at communicating his directives, information and marching orders to my own team.

andrewshack's picture

Appreciate the detailed response.

Looks like you have an opportunity to communicate with everyone during the All Hands meeting, but also have more intimate meetings.

Question for you - what sorts of things are communicated at the All Hands meetings - is it somewhat like the outline in M-Tools staff meeting podcast? Thanks in advance for your response.

weetiong's picture

Recently my direct asked that his direct (i.e. my skip) be allowed to attend my staff meeting as he wanted to groom him.  After looking thru some of the info in this forum, it seems like in general we don't allow skip to attend staff meeting.  Maybe once in a while for exposure is ok, but not on regular basis.  

I'm inclined towards rejecting my direct's request, but there is another complication: my direct's health is not that good thus once in a while he will be on medical leave for 2-3 days.  So he's thinking of grooming his direct to cover him in his absence e.g. if direct is sick and cannot attend my staff meeting, perhaps his direct can attend on his behalf.  

Accordingly, I have 2 questions that I hope I can gather some insights on:

(a) Should skip be allowed to attend my staff meeting on behalf of my direct in his absence?

(b) If the answer to (a) is yes, then in order to "train" the skip, is it better to just invite him to attend all my staff meetings?  


Thanks and warmest regards,

Wee Tiong

Smacquarrie's picture

Assuming your staff meetings run like ours (topics can vary depending in the week of the month) you can begin ti invite the skip to the less confidential meetings. If this is not the case, I would recommend an invitation on a limited basis. This means that it may be every other or even every third meeting. This is of dourse done with the understanding that when sensitive items are to be discussed you can rescind the invitation with little or no notice.
This should help to groom the next generation while protecting the integrity of the meetings.
I am in a similar situation were I am privy to information not generally available to others at my level. It is all with the understanding that anything I may hear is confidential until such time as it issue public by management.

dan west's picture
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I'd only bring a skip to my meeting for the following:

1 - When they are presenting -This is a good chance for someone within the organization to get practice presenting to more senior people in the organization. It's a great opportunity for rising stars to have some exposure and hone their presentation skills. 

I think a lot of good comes from this. It is also a chance for me to assess how my directs are doing at growing their staff.

2 - If my direct is out of the office and the skip is the back up. 

3 - Grooming someone - Even in this case, it would likely be a one-time invite just to get the flavor of the meeting.

There may be other instances, but these are the main two.

Otherwise I'd refrain from bringing in the skips. Ash Denver said it pretty well, "Part of the 'test' of our ability to be effective managers is for our/my boss to see how well I do at communicating his directives, information and marching orders to my own team."