The positive impact of “skip meetings” on company culture

By Paolo Barbesino, PhD

The positive impact of “skip meetings” on company culture

Horrible bosses’ power tactic: Place the webcam so low from their faces to seem like a large shadow haunting the employees. Sadly, I witnessed this in the past. And I had to live with that boss breathing down our necks and making employees feel like nothing. It’s not to me to say whether he transformed the company culture from grade A to grade D with manipulation and authoritative tactics, inciting fear in the employees.

But not all bosses are like that. I had the privilege of working with someone whose leadership style made me feel hopeful again. She asked me if she could run “skip meetings” with my team.

Skip meetings are close-knit sessions between managers and employees of every level in the hierarchy. It can be interns, trainees, or anyone – no direct supervisor correlation.

You might not have heard of them because they aren’t practiced as much. Skip meetings aim to create an open culture that fosters transparency, communication, and honest feedback without restrictions on the employee’s level. Many organizations are integrating these into their leadership and communication strategy.  Here’s my account of their benefits:

  1. The insights from the meeting counterbalance the potential misaligned and distorted information received from particular hierarchical representatives who missed a part of the picture.
  2. They build a sense of belonging in the employees, which makes them proactive in identifying recurring and potential problems in the organization and taking ownership of helping the decision-making process.
  3. Fresh perspectives are the natural outcomes of these meetings since it’s not the same old people contributing to the conversation continuously. The brainstorming sessions in the skip meetings led to innovative ideas the upper management wouldn’t have come up with otherwise.
  4. These meetings have improved organizational cultures by enabling a hierarchy-blind approach. Everyone gets to voice out their opinion. What this also leads to is understanding others’ perspectives and building a deep sense of mutual respect that icebreakers simply can’t build.

Better culture, better employee engagement, and better facilitation of business growth. Skip meetings are the solution to fix the leaky holes that hierarchical structures create. Many cultures may not adopt it because their core leadership is widely distinct from this. China, India, Japan, Russia, and the UAE might find these meetings strange.

A handful of financial institutions have embraced skip meetings to transform their architecture and organizational routines successfully. I myself experienced the power of this organizational routine when I started running skip meetings during breakfast around a coffee and croissant or milk tea and samosa.

The guy with the webcam on his desk should consider that. The check for the breakfast is on him.