We recommend the pay reviewer going quickly to the bottom line and explaining its basis as candidly as the recipient cares to hear it. If the recipient doesn’t want clarifications or the rationale, and you’re sure of that, we’d say, “Forget it,” although if it were us, we wouldn’t forget it until we knew why.
The second important practical point is to get pay issues out of the way and out of consciousness before holding performance discussions because, on this topic, the principal objectives should be reciprocal learning and your giving support. This requires relationship cultivation and protection.
Third, whenever possible hold performance previews, not reviews. A fractured quote, probably misattributed to Yogi Berra, applies here: “History may be prologue, but tomorrow is another day.”
When control issues are not central and the spirit of teamwork is engaged, then previews are discussions in which the reviewer is asking “How can I assist you?” empowerment questions, in contrast to “Here’s what I require” control statements.