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Great post Chuck! A keeper.

Thanks for publishing a how-to summary of the key points when handling someone with the "I deserve a raise" attitude I covered in my 6/30/2010 post here: http://www.compensationcafe.com/2010/06/i-deserve-a-raise-1.html.

Asking the invididual to submit a written preview of how THEY would rate themselves a few days in advance of your discussion can also help immensely. Knowing where the two of you already agree (sometimes to their surprise) allows the reviewing manager to focus on areas of disagreement. Frequently, they are harder on themselves than you would be. Also, they may admit to deficiencies you overlooked; or it can give you time to check exaggerated claims before you sit down for your official interview. Some employers have a self-rating version of their appraisal form that guides the ee in the introspective non-binding process and prepares them for the supervisor's subsequent overview and authoritive judgment. It helps prevent a "surprise party" that does not serve either side well.

http://www.compensationcafe.com/2010/12/avoid-surprise-party-performance-reviews.html covers more ways to avoid surprise parties.

Chuck, as with all of your highly valued posts, this one contains sound common sense combined with very useful insights for the ever-pressurized HR/Rewards professional. So many frontiers have been pushed back over the last decade that it comes as a shock to many to realise that Performance Management and associated pay changes are still one of the most disliked and stressful processes that we have to face, and even more so in these unscheduled confrontations which you so skilfully describe. Great work - keep 'em coming!
Alan Gibbons, Managing Director, The Reward Practice.

Hi Chuck

Just a couple of minor policy points I would add:

1. Managers need to be careful that there isn't any risks of discrimination... occasionally this conversation is a prelude to something legal (noting that most people know roughly what their colleagues get paid).

2. A lot of this comes down to the assurances given at the last review and whether the company really feels that the person is worth keeping happy (e.g. someone with potential or key skills / contacts etc). Unrealistic or poor communication is often the issue rather than their pay per se.

3. If the employee's pay increase request is in effect about matching a job offer that they have had, I would always start with No...even if they agree to stay to complete what they are working on, in their heart they have already left

Thanks for these great tips. This is an area that many managers need training and education to prepare them for when, not if, this situation arises. I really like the focus of ensuring a positive communication experience with the employee. Such a conversation may also be an opportunity to talk about the employee's career path and goals.

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