Russell writes quite movingly in Campaign today about how wounded he was by an appraisal.

The problem seems to be that it was very detailed. So instead of general comments about 'areas to improve on', he was told specific things like that he was "an arse" (joke I'm sure). Worse still, he was able to work out who had said what.

Shortly after this appraisal, he quit.

Now, Russell would be the first to admit he is a gentle, sensitive soul.

But even in the dog-eats-other-dog-for-lunch-on-expenses world of advertising, I don't think he's alone.

An account handler of my acquaintance was in tears after her appraisal. Although it was 95% positive, she found herself focusing exclusively on those one or two negative comments. Maybe that's human nature.

But it leads me to wonder... are appraisals a good thing, or are they actually the work of the devil?

Are they ever inspiring, or are they always demotivating?

Is it better for managers to drop little comments here and there throughout the year, rather than deploy the 'shock and awe' of an annual 360?

And is it better to live in ignorance? In other words, if you are an arse, is it better to be unaware of that fact? After all, arse-itude is probably something that you can't change anyway.

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