Ask John Dame: How can I help managers understand pay and performance goals?

As an executive coach for the past 15 years, I have worked closely with dozens of CEOs and their leadership teams. All of the executives with whom I work face similar issues. Send your questions to

Q: In our organization, we have a process that not only identifies a pay range for a position, but also outlines the increase in pay as it’s tied to high performance. I have a manager who reports to me who has a 30-year employee he wants to move into a higher pay-range position and offer an increase tied to her performance. This is a good, but not great, employee who basically shows up and does an adequate job. What should I do?

A: If you have an HR department, you should get them involved in this process with the manager. Make sure they agree with your thoughts regarding this employee before you get involved.

My approach would be to “coach” your manager to understand the expectations and process. I’d point out the difference between showing up for work and doing the job and what is considered “high performance.”

I’d also dig into why your manager believes this employee needs such a large increase. My guess is that there is something in the way your manager relates to employees that is pushing him to this action.

In the end, as the CEO, you always have veto power and can exercise that right at any time. If you do that, set the ground rules for the next pay-cycle determination now.

Q: One of my managers resigned at the end of the year. Although he had a non-compete, we did not respond when he went to work for a competitor. Recently, we came across company intellectual property that he emailed to his personal email address before he left our company. Our fear is that this is going to show up at our competitor’s workplace. What can I do?

A: This is an issue that comes up from time to time, and it feels like you have been betrayed.

In addition to non-compete clauses, most employment agreements have a clause regarding trade secrets.

There is no reason why you cannot work through your attorney to enforce your non-compete and put your former employee and his new employer on notice that you will enforce the trade secrets clause and sue for damages if they use the internal intellectual property he stole.

One positive note: You should be happy he is not working for you any longer. Stealing is a significant character flaw. It’s probably best to be done with this person.

John Dame is a CEO coach, executive team consultant and leadership strategist based in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County. Visit his website at

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