Case Study Key Players:
The Walsh Family – the owners of ABC Co.
Edith Walsh – the company CEO
Farah – the new VP, Human Resources
Joshua – Programming Team Lead
Mehdi – seasoned employee of 12 years; Programmer
Michael – a contract employee who is a millennial
Sarah – another long-time employee; Programmer; Mehdi’s best friend
The Scene
The Scene ABC Co. is a fast-paced tech company. ABC has 210 employees and is still privately
owned by the Walsh family. Edith Walsh is the company CEO and worked her way up in the
company over 24 years.
Edith has recently hired Farah to be the new VP, of HR. Farah has spent the last 60 days
observing and has finally recommended that the company needs an overhaul of the
performance management system.
The Situation
Monday – members of the programming team, led by Joshua, are hanging out in the lunchroom.
The conversation about annual reviews is brought up by Mehdi, who is a seasoned employee of
12 years. Mehdi brags that for the last 12 years he has always received a pay increase; the
Walsh family takes care of their employees. Michael, a millennial employee who is currently on
contract, sits quietly. While his contract was only for 6-months he’s been month to month for the
last 4 months, still waiting to hear if he’ll be offered a permanent position. Michael respects
Mehdi who is an exceptional programmer but not great at mentoring new employees.
Tuesday – Edith calls Michael into her office. His contract will be renewed for the next year, but
he won’t be receiving a pay increase. Michael is excited to stay but wonders what he could have
done to earn an increase on his hourly rate. He doesn’t say much to Edith because he was quite
nervous speaking to the CEO.
Wednesday – Sarah, another long time ABC employee, and Mehdi’s best friend, is overheard
complaining about her salary. She doesn’t care that the company is recovering from revenue
loss during the pandemic and believes that loyal employees should continue to receive their
annual pay increase, even if it means firing contract employees.
Thursday – Edith posts a volunteer sign-up sheet in the lunchroom asking employees to join a
Performance Management System Review Committee. Michael signs up, hoping this will secure
his employment in the future, which Sarah and Mehdi see. Sarah openly ridicules Michael’s
desire to get involved. While Mehdi doesn’t contribute to the conversation, he is present in the
room. Michael scratches his name off of the sign-up sheet.
Friday – Mehdi and Sarah are once again in the lunchroom. Mehdi tells Sarah that his review
went as he expected. In fact, their manager, Joshua, didn’t even bother to sit down with him.
Joshua sent an email stating, “all good”, and confirmed a pay increase of 4% again. Sarah
knows she delivered the same metrics as Mehdi this past year, so she’ll be expecting the same
pay increase.
At the same time, Michael decides to put in his resignation to Edith, who is confused because
Michael was so excited on Tuesday to accept his contract extension. Michael won’t say but he’s
already starting at his friend’s company on Monday so today is his last day with ABC. Edith
rushes into Farah’s office, furious that she made the effort to offer Michael a 1-year contract
earlier in the week, only for him to quit at the end of the week. Farah is embarrassed but was
not made aware yet of Michael’s contract extension by Edith; they typically meet on Monday
mornings to discuss Edith’s strategic decisions.
Case Study Questions

  1. It is apparent that ABC Co. isn’t using appraisal forms. If you were Farah, the VP of HR, how
    would you implement them? What would you include on the appraisal form? How would you
    check that our managers are using them correctly?
  2. Identify either a star or poor performer from this case study. What behavioral traits did they
    demonstrate? If you were their line manager, how would you manage and coach this individual?
    What rater errors might you look out for?
  3. Farah must provide Edith, the CEO, with a communication plan rolling out our new
    performance management system. If you were Farah, what might you include in your
    communication plan? What pitfalls might you watch out for?
  4. Farah believes the performance management system needs an appeal process to create
    fairness amongst all employees. How might an appeal process have changed Michael’s
    outcome with ABC Co.? Why is team coaching important?

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