Personal Performance Appraisal


Shall I close the door?

This seat here?

Right. I am not sure why I’ve been asked to do this. Quite frankly, I haven’t worked with Ben very long, and I don’t know him that well. That’s no reflection on him, of course, it’s just the way it is. You might have thought Susan, or Jeremy, who was here before me, or even Graeme, though of course he’s still away on the overseas trip, so he probably wouldn’t be back in time to help out with things like this.

Actually, I would like it noted down on the form that I’m not sure I’m really qualified to be discussing Ben. I think that’s fair, to him and to me. Is there a space for that?

Oh, and can I ask a favour? I don’t mean to be nosey, but work in an office and you learn to read upside down, of course. I see that you have my name on the form as ‘Rach’. Just there. I really do prefer ‘Racheal’. H–E–A–L. Like medicine does. I suppose Will wrote that there when he was preparing these. He’s always calling me ‘Rach’. Eugh – like fingernails on a blackboard! Not that he means anything by it. It’s just my little pet thing.

So, Ben. He is very likeable, and he makes sure he gets on well with everyone in the office. He’s always ready to help, you only have to ask. He’s a bit of a brooder sometimes. I don’t know if he realises or not, but he does frown quite a bit. He’s got such a lovely smile, but quite often he’ll frown when we’re talking. It’s a bit off-putting.

I do have to say, though, it isn’t as if he is the hardest worker. Although, all credit to him, the boss, Will, does seem very happy with the work that he has done. And as they say: if you want to do well, work smart, not hard. And he is very smart. But there are a few little things.

If I need to talk to him about work, and I walk over to his desk, he will always close the window that he was working in. Alt-tab. Alt-tab, and he’ll spin around in his chair to see what I want. Now what do I care about what he’s doing on the computer, anyway? I mean, really. So that just seems a little odd to me. We’re all thrown in together, the boss, the seniors, and everyone else – it’s an open plan office, Honey; everyone knows what you’re up to. You just have to accept the fact that there is no privacy. One time he was particularly engrossed in something, and I don’t wear shoes in the office, so he didn’t hear me behind him – and all it was, was an email to a friend of his in Hastings! Email’s just like the telephone used to be, everyone uses email for personal purposes, it’s a fact of life. I make plenty of personal phone calls, and I don’t mind if anyone hears. There’s no need for him to act so guilty about it.

The other thing that he does, and it really is just these two little things, is come in late. He will come in five or ten minutes late every morning. I’m sure he’d say it’s some mornings, or most mornings, but it is every morning. And he always looks worried, I can see him glancing sideways at Will as he walks by him, on the way to his desk. Will doesn’t care, half the time he doesn’t notice – chances are, he’s so busy answering a call, or working on something, that he doesn’t have time to even look up by the time that Ben gets in. Will’s bright and early every morning, so he’s going great guns by nine. So it’s not as though Ben is going to get into trouble for it.

And he drives in! The senior manager, Graeme, told Will to use his park while he was in Canada, and so while that was going on, Will offered Ben his park to use – so it’s not as if he’s tied to a bus timetable. I look over the car park from my desk, and I see him pulling in, and then jumping out of his car, looking at his watch, and grabbing his jacket, always in a rush. If he rushed like that an hour before, he’d be on time. Half the time he has to go back, to check if he’s locked his car, or to grab his bag.

It just gets under my skin a little bit. Just a little, mind you. Not because he’s late, but because he won’t make up his mind. He could decide to just get here a little bit earlier – as I said, it’s only five minutes or so – or he could just decide to stroll in when he feels like it, which, let’s face it, is what most seniors I’ve dealt with do anyway, they’ve earned that freedom I suppose – but he just keeps on half-sneaking in, and being very slightly late. One morning he sat down, and I popped over the partition, and said, ‘Ooh, Ben, you’re late again!’

I said it in a joking way, so there wasn’t any harm in it. It was more, look – we all know you come in late, get over it, relax. And it wasn’t as if Will heard me either – like I said, he doesn’t pay attention to that sort of thing. But I could see Ben had taken it the wrong way. And next day, wonder of wonders, he was on time, got to his desk, didn’t get a cup of coffee, didn’t say a thing, didn’t move until ten-thirty. Well, he did say ‘morning’. If you get to the stage where someone won’t even say ‘morning’ then, well. But still.

So he could certainly do with learning to lighten up a little. Or be on time. But it’s neither. And it’s every single morning, I don’t think he even realises – except for that time, of course.

Is this helpful? Are you starting to get a feeling for Ben?


Ben Sparks lives and works in Wellington.