Sorry About That Merit Raise You Were Supposed To Get

So let’s say you work for a media company that isn’t totally crashing and burning (it’s possible!) and you are totally psyched about your annual review because you rocked your job this year.

You might end up getting stuck with 1.5%, no matter how much you deserve more.

Why? The problem’s with the process, says Sean Conrad at Fistful of Talent.

Explanation 1. The manager was assigning merit increases based on their own personal preferences/mood that day. A pretty subjective approach, with no link to performance and more akin to playing favorites.

Explanation 2. The manager doesn’t like the pressure of assigning increases and decided to split the pot evenly across the team – Richard got what everyone else got. That’s not pay for performance either, unless of course all team members are equal performers. And we all know how often THAT happens in real life. So if you are going to let managers evenly spread their raises, that’s cool, just stop calling it pay for performance. It’s not even close.

Explanation 3. Richard isn’t really a super high performer and shouldn’t have earned 4/5 on his review to begin with. But his manager was too weak to let him know that he was average, leading to grade creep in the appraisal process and a major disconnect on his raise.

So the manager was unwilling to deal with performance, but when Richard gets his next check he’s going to come to HR and dump the problem in your lap.

Sucks for employees, because all the power is in the manager’s hands. Maybe it makes you feel better to know that they’re not really doing it to you on purpose—it’s just a symptom of a broken process.