You know what one of the roles of the company is? To not put managers of people in impossible situations.
Case in point. The merit matrix. You want to do pay for performance, but you don't want to take anything away from average people in order to give it to great employees. The reasons for this are many:
--You're not very good at performance management as a company.
--You think the difference between 2.8% and 3.7% is significant. You didn't major in math.
--You're a pinko commie/socialist who believes that the enemy of the state are talented employees who must be brough back to the pack.
--You've been mind warped into believing a merit matrix is in your best interests...
So anyway, you've got a merit matrix in play at your company for one of those reasons. With that in mind, your managers deliver an above average review to multiple employees, at which point they are forced to have to tell the employees that equates into a 3.2% raise.
The employee appears unimpressed, and the smart as #### ones get vocal.
At which point your manager utters the words, "I'd like to give you more, but I can't. This is all they'll let me give you."
"They" means "You" - the HR pro or the company. It's called the "manager pass-through", and it erodes trust and confidence from the employees towards all parties involved. The manager. The company. The HR pro.
Those conversations are happening every day. Find another way soon - because it's killing you, whether you know it or not.