One super serious, yet totally fictitious performance review – featuring Uncertain Faith’s Charlotte Row

The super serious yet totally fictitious performance review -
The cleanliness of the desk alone in this picture should tell you the following is completely made up.

May include spoilers.

My office door opens and a woman with curly brown hair peeks in. “Um, are you ready for me?” she asks with a smile. Not waiting for a reply, she crosses the threshold, with the familiarity of an old friend.

“Hi Charlotte, come right in.” I gesture for her to close the door behind her. Charlotte flops down in a chair with a mug in hand while I rummage around to find the collection of papers stapled together with her name on them. “I can’t believe it is already time to do performance reviews again,” I say, handing her the pages. “How long have we been doing this?”

Charlotte leans back in her seat, scanning my written comments on the first page with a quick glance. “Hmm,” she begins, tapping her lip, “technically it will be five years this October, but I think this is only my second or third one of these.”

I blink.

She shrugs. “You kind of forgot a few times.”

“Oh, that’s right.” The heat from my cheeks is a better gauge of the severity of my blush than any mirror. “Sorry. All I can say is I was distracted.”

Charlotte leans forward, returning the papers to my desk face down. “It’s fine. I understood. The Project’s success was, is, a huge priority for everyone.”

“It is, but I don’t want you to think I don’t value you too,” I say, nodding at the papers. “You’ve done good work, and I want you to feel like you are contributing.”

Or is it coffee? Either way, it wouldn’t surprise me if in the least if this was Charlotte’s mug (affiliate link)

Charlotte laughs. “I’m not exactly saving the world over here.” She takes a sip of her beverage.

“I’m serious, Charlotte,” I say, thinking I could go for a coffee too after this is done. “You might not be expected to go on epic quests, but what you do still matters to a whole bunch of people.”

She shakes her head, though the smile remains. “That’s nice of you to say, but really, I’m okay. It’s not like I would want Juliane’s job anyway.” Charlotte shudders. “That woman is a freak.”

“Charlotte,” I chide, imagining the conversation I would have to have with the human resource department later if I had one.

Charlotte’s eyes grow wide as she slaps her hand over her mouth. “That didn’t come out right at all. I meant she’s a workaholic. I didn’t mean to imply I thought her … her … you know … the project made her a freak, which it totally didn’t.” Charlotte’s hand dropped to rest over her heart. She gulps. “I just like having time to spend with my family. That’s all.”

I purse my lips and take a deep breath before speaking again. “Let’s stop talking about Juliane and keep this focused on you. What can I do to help you become more successful this year?”

She looks up at the ceiling in thought. “Well, maybe I could attend a workshop.”

I raise an eyebrow.

“Or two,” says Charlotte, meeting my gaze once more. She chews her lip when I don’t respond. “Three?” she squeaks.

“Think bigger, though I’m making a mental note to revisit your thoughts on a workshop later.”

“Bigger?” Her brows knit. She eyeballs the papers on my desk. Her hand twitches. I can tell she’s itching to give my review a more in-depth read. “But … but … look, I appreciate the vote of confidence and don’t take this the wrong way,” she takes another sip, “but I’m not certain … Kids are only young once. You know?”

“Oh, believe me, I know.” I grin. “Which is exactly why I am so excited.” I pick up the papers. “What if I’ve come up with a way for you to grow within the company while also giving you the opportunity to spend even more time with your family?”

Charlotte cocks her head to the side and looks at me out of the corner of her eye. “How would that work?”

This time it is my turn to lean forward. Opening the papers to the back, I point to the last paragraph. “Because, Charlotte,” I say, my grin threatening to split my face, “before this year is out, I’m giving you … a sequel.”

That’s right, early revisions are all but done and I will be looking for beta readers for my latest contemporary / cozy mystery novel entitled An Uncertain Confidence in the coming weeks.

Charlotte is back in a new story proving happily ever after is a constant work in progress following one disastrous night out. Those interested should send me an email at Allie at alliepottswrites dot com for additional details. You don’t have to have read the first book, but it certainly helps.

Speaking of beta readers, Lucy over at was kind enough to feature a guest post of mine entitled Writers: What to expect when your beta reader is an elven prince. Click on the link to check it out.

Performance and Character Reviews

English: Popped balloons resemble jellyfish. P...

As I’ve mentioned previously writing is only one of the many hats I get to wear on a daily basis. Unfortunately as I was changing out my desk calendar I was reminded today that the party is over. I need to put on my boss hat and get started working on the dreaded performance reviews.

Yes, I do have direct reports (no I didn’t force them to buy my book), and yes I do dread the performance review as much as they do or more. Why is that? Because my work requires us to complete reviews in a one-size-fits all format which can put people on the defensive. Additionally my office is not very large and so I am very familiar with why an individual did or did not complete their annual goals for the year without the need for another meeting.

fax (Photo credit: anomalous4)

The part I dislike though most about the process is where the manager is expected to provide constructive criticism. The trick is presenting it in such a way as to motivate the person towards changing the behavior in the long-term rather than instigating a finger-pointing war. There was a Dilbert carton recently which showed the pointy haired manager reminding himself to criticize the behavior, not the person. In typical Dilbert fashion, he failed miserably. Hopefully though I’ve offered suggestions to my staff throughout the year, making this requirement on the form redundant.

You have to be able to first identify what motivates the individual and then how to best leverage that trigger into their work. However it is just as (or even more) important that the person being reviewed respect the reviewer, otherwise there will be no change. As an aside, I would expect that the majority of my protagonist’s from An Uncertain Faith reviews haven’t gone so well as of late.

Authors should be able to relate to this concept as much of the same work goes into effective character development. When I was developing my character notes, I had to describe to myself what was this person’s core needs? How did they respond when under stress? Some of these notes made it into the story verbatim, some were probably less obvious to the reader, but helped when it came to dialogue. I didn’t take the time to properly sit down and review my characters on previous writing attempts definitely contributed to my writer’s block and ultimate failure on those attempts.

It is much easier to write what should be done when preparing and conducting performance reviews than it is to actually do it. In my case there is a generational gap between myself and some of my staff. It didn’t take me more than a week on the job to recognize that what motivates me professionally is vastly different from what motivates a person closer to retirement or one just entering the work force. I would recommend that anyone attempting to write about a character vastly different from themselves study up on how to motivate those not like you or managing different generations.

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