There are some people who impress you by their persona and some by their work. But she is an amazing combination of both.
I remember when I met her 6 or so years back, I got the impression that she is good-looking and good-natured but must be a shirker, as most of such women are (MCP thinking ;). She would smile with you, laugh with you, flirt with you maturely and get away with not working. She does all that to some extent. This impression of mine was reinforced by people talking bad about her. Well I heard some things and then told these people that I don’t want to hear all this about my colleagues. She also ignored my instructions sometimes when I was not her boss. So I made up an image of her in my mind and started treating her like that.
But for last one year, since she has started directly reporting to me, I have observed a sea change in my image of her. Either I was wrong about her, or she has drastically improved herself, I am not sure. Well initially going by her image in my mind, I did not give her much work, and let her assist my immediate boss and our Head of department. Kool, things were going on. But when there was appraisal time and I had to have a review meeting with her. I told her that in my view she was okay with status quo and was not proactive and did not take initiative. She politely retorted- I kept on asking for more work, you did not own me as a team member. I was shocked but later when I analysed what she had said, I found that she was right. In my assessment of her as a person not interested in work, and based on 1-2 experiences I assumed she will not be keen on taking any new assignments so I let it be. And here she was showing me the mirror. Wow. Well she is almost my age or maybe older so she has the life experience and emotional intelligence to have a mature perspective.
That day itself, I thought of a work which I was planning to assign to a new team member, in addition to my happy friend who was doing it already. This way happy friend could devote time to other things and our over-dependence on her (resulting in trouble everytime she had to take leave) could be reduced. I asked the amazing junior if she would like to do that, she lapped up the offer instantly. And in my 21 years of workex, her enthusiasm and eagerness to start doing the new job was unmatched. That evening itself, she learnt the basics from happy friend and started doing the job. The fact that both of them have a good rapport (I had this in mind while assigning) did help. And now she is almost independently handling the job, much to my amazement and pleasant surprize.
Secondly, another job she is looking after was being done very unplanned manner prior to her. I was given the charge of this job very recently. I am noticing that She has taken upon herself to streamline the job, even if it means more tedious, monotonous, repetitive work for her. I marvel at her sincerity and dedication. She is also coordinating with IT department to make it more user-friendly.
As for her bad image, my personal experience is that ladies who are little bit broad-minded and like having fun (which we men also do) in a healthy manner by cute flirting, are taken to be bad women by narrow-minded and mean-minded people. I have people in my family who I know for sure are very sweet persons, but people talk bad things about them. So for this amazing junior, I feel the same logic applies.
May her tribe increase. And may I not make wrong impressions of people in my mind always.