Executive Quesitons

Answering Common Comp Questions from Executives: A How-to Guide

Questions about pay can come from anyone at your organization —  including executives.

And when someone from the C-suite shows up at your door asking about compensation, it’s natural to get a little nervous! 

But, never fear.

We’re going to dig into a few of the most common comp Qs you’ll get from executives —  plus strategic answers to each one.

Why does market data always seem wrong?

This can seem like an accusatory question, but don’t panic! 

The problem here isn’t you or even your data, it’s likely a difference in your points of view.

As a comp pro, you’re market pricing by job or category —  which means you’re looking at the median.

But the exec in question is probably asking about individual outliers.

It’s not that the data is “wrong”! The issue is that comp and the C-suite aren’t on the same page when considering which roles are outliers.

A few things should happen next.

  1. Explain to this executive why you pay at the median for most roles! Take this opportunity to break down your comp philosophy (including the fact that paying above the median should be reserved strategic hiring moves).
  2. And then wrap up by encouraging communication between comp and the C-suite! If comp knows what roles need to be priced differently, they can then look at different (and, likely, more competitive) data sets. That’s the only way comp can create enticing pay for the roles executives have deemed critical to organizational health.

At the end of the day, these issues often come back to keeping clear, open lines of communication. Especially when it comes to compensation and leadership!

How can I create an incentive plan that aligns my teams with my departmental or company goals?

Everyone benefits from aligning departmental goals with company goals!

So, it’s great news that an executive is knocking on your door with this specific Q.

If someone in leadership is aware of the importance of aligning departmental goals to company initiatives, the more likely it is that those organizational goals will be met.

Tell the exec to try cascading down from their goals. 

Start with C-suite goals (which are, by nature, going to be high-level goals) and get more simplistic with your metrics as you go down.

The easier the goals, the more likely they’ll be accomplished! And that success will do nothing but trickle up to the top tier goals.

(Psst —  if you want to learn more about goal alignment, get our free survey report, “How is Comp Measured?”)

More questions from executives

Hopefully, you’ll feel more confident answering exec Qs with these answers in your toolbelt! 

And if you want thoughtful responses to even more complicated (and common!) compensation questions from the C-suite, you’ll love this. 

We’ve created an entire cheat sheet on the toughest comp questions you’ll get from execs.

Trust me, you’ll want to keep this resource handy with executives come knocking!


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