What Are The Compensation Questions Your Managers Should Be Able to Answer?

Kris Dunn Compensation/Cash Money, Leadership, Managing People, Training and Development

Put together an online version of our BOSS Training (Compensation Module) for a client a few months back, and while our training on the topic is great, there’s no question a fully functioning manager or people has to be really knowledgeable on the comp front to successfully answer all tough questions they’re going to face.

Boss Redesign - to the right

What questions, you ask? He’s a few of the infamous comp questions your managers face:

–“Why doesn’t our company pay people enough? Can I get a raise?”

–“What is the pay range for my job?”

–“Why are you asking me to do things that aren’t part of my job? Do I get paid extra?”

–“What type of salary do you need to take this job and make a move from your current company?” (LEGAL ALERT. LOL)

–“I worked my tail off last year and all I got was a 3% increase. What do I need to do to get a big increase this year? Why should I try?”

–“Mary just told me what she makes and it’s a bunch more than I make. How is that fair? I need to be raised to her pay rate ASAP!”

–“Glassdoor shows that most companies pay people in my position more than I’m currently making. Why are we so cheap?”

–“I heard Google pays mailroom boys 100K.” (not a question, but a test!)

Damn. There’s a lot on a manager’s plate related to be ready for comp questions from their team. If you have down time during COVID, it’s a great time to think about doing some learning sessions to increase readiness and KSAs with your managers of people.

Introduction of basic concepts +role play/skill practice = success.

But of course, it’s not enough to simply list the questions, shoot the s**t a little bit over a lunch and learn session and hope for the best. No – you need give your people managers some simple to understand tools to memorize so they can deliver a decent performance in addressing these questions.

We’ve gone further with our comp training for managers or people and encouraged participants with the following framework:


Here’s what each means from a muscle memory perspective as a manager of people answers one of the comp questions above:

Acknowledge – Show that you understand the request, and that giving them information on the company’s approach to comp is important to you, as is their satisfaction since they are an important part of the team.

Engage – Tell them more about the company’s approach to compensation. How do you do it? If you do salary surveys to ensure competitiveness, tell them about that as well as other details that suggest there is a plan, and it’s not inconsistent.

Close – The hardest part for any manager. If you know they are paid competitive with the market and inline with their internal peers, you have to own that and tell them – “Based on that approach and where you are, I feel good about where you are at currently.”

The hardest thing for managers of people to do with compensation question is to close. If your comp plan says they are paid fairly, you have to teach your managers to own that in conversations without appearing insensitive or defensive. If they are unsure, they go away to research and when ready, set up a meeting and use the conversation framework above.

Everybody wants more. Giving your managers a framework to have the compensation conversation and the ability to hold firm and close is one of the most important things you can do in your manager training programs.

ABC – Always Be Closing!