Gentle Bamboo Solutions

[Case Studies] Let’s develop a case


[This is the last in this incredible journey where Rakshith analyzes the role of Case Studies in Training Sessions.]

I am attempting to develop a case today. How do I go about it?

Let’s start with a premise.

Let’s take a performance conversation. Prakash is a performance manager in Human Capital Pvt. Ltd. He has to conduct productive performance conversations with his team members. He has to work with them to give them feedback individually, while also helping them create and manage their development plans.

What kind of background information do I need to make this setting come alive?

Human Capital Pvt. Ltd. has an open and transparent appraisal mechanism. They believe in conducting regular one-to-one meetings. Feedback and indeed feed-forward are given high importance. They promote a culture of open performance development where managers and staff alike, irrespective of hierarchy, are encouraged to offer each other feedback. At the same time, Human Capital also believes that every employee must take 100% responsibility for their own careers. In this way, every performance conversation is expected to be a collaborative two-way conversation between the manager and the team member.

What are the conflicts that Prakash might experience in a performance conversation?

I am going to start with personas. These are conversations he can anticipate and he can prepare for.

  1. Stellar performer
  2. Solid performer but not interested in growth; has other interests outside of work
  3. Failing at work
  4. Great attitude but failing at work
  5. Stellar performer but has a terrible attitude

Another set of conflicts is when a conversation goes wrong midway. How might that happen? I’ll take one case. Someone’s expectations are not in alignment with the feedback you are giving them and that leads to a heated conflict.

Let’s flesh out these characters.

Vijay produces both impressive results and admirable behaviours. He has been in the organization for 4 years now. He has earned and deserves to receive the top rating (1) on the company’s 5-level rating scale. (1 is highest; 5 is lowest) He not only make an outsized contribution to the organization’s success but, perhaps equally valuable, serves as a role model to everyone else in the company.

Sarika is a good solid performer. She has been in the organization for 2 years now. She and others like her are the bedrock population of employees in any company. They probably represent two-thirds or more of the workforce. While some of them perform better than others, all of them are at least at the Meets Expectations level. Many of them exceed the manager’s expectations in one or more areas. They are the Steady Eddies, the successful strong contributors who form the backbone of any company.

Mahesh is a failure. He has been in the organization for 2.5 years now. There is no other way to put it. He does not have the ability or the willingness to succeed in this role. He might do better in a different one. He fails to achieve acceptable results and display appropriate behaviour.

Sunil is willing but lacks ability. He has been in the organization for 6 months. You like Sunil’s presence and his enthusiasm. While he exhibits admirable behaviours, he doesn’t accomplish very much. Moreover, his failure to produce acceptable results leads others—though they may thoroughly enjoy his company—to resist having them assigned to their work teams.

Jignesh is a stellar performer and delivers the goods. He has been in the organization for 1 year. But he is generally regarded as vain, egotistical, temperamental, unreasonable, and irritable, with a rather high opinion of himself not shared by others. He finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team.

Rishabh is a highly talented individual who was a stellar performer in his previous organization where he worked for 2 years and had 2 promotions. He’s been a topper through college and has excelled at everything he has attempted. You’ve given him a rating of 2 out of 5 which you think is great for anyone who’s in their first year at Human Capital. After all, you’ve always told Rishabh is he is a great performer. Now, Rishabh is upset. He believes he should have gotten a rating of 1. He blames you for having misled him.

Bringing it all together.

I can leave it like this or put all of this together with a little more backstory and interactions between the different personas. The case is open enough that we can discuss frameworks for delivering feedback, best practices, handling different emotions, creating a model/process for better performance conversations, etc.

In conclusion to this series, I am looking forward to using more nuanced case studies in a class.

Charting new beginnings,


PS: I hope you enjoyed the series. If you have any questions or feedback for Rakshith, reach out to him at rakshith – Abhilash