The Secret Marketer

It is appraisal time at our place and I am busy conducting mid-term reviews with my marketing team.

With due deference to the human resources community, I have never been a big fan of appraisals. I do understand why they are necessary, but it must be said that they take an inordinate amount of time. The systems-based processes that have been designed at great cost to help us complete the task are not very helpful unless you are prepared to devote many days learning how to use them properly. Let’s face it, there are more important things to do.

My dislike for appraisals has never really changed. When I was a marketing graduate, I did anything possible to avoid filling out all the pre-appraisal homework. That was in the days when you only had to fill out a few boxes by hand, so I can’t even blame complex processes for my failings.

Over the years, I have worked for a number of people and their attitudes towards appraisals have varied greatly. My happiest times have been with those bosses who have talked to me throughout the year, giving me feedback along the way. For these, the appraisal itself was a chance to have a nice coffee and chat about life and work rather than an examination-like process in its own right. It was a means to an end, not a substitute for day-to-day engagement.

My most miserable times have been spent working for bosses who treat appraisal season as the highlight of the year. They came meticulously prepared and expected me to be the same. They judged me based on how well I had prepared for my appraisal rather than how good a job I did for the other 364 days a year. As with most poor managers, they hid behind process.

“They are more interested in technical point scoring than in winning hearts and minds”

Now I sit on the other side of the table, I find it fascinating to see how members of my own team prepare. Difficult employees do exactly the same as those weak managers. They are always the best prepared with their form filling and are defensive about just about everything that comes up in their appraisal. They are adamant that they are already top grade and more interested in technical point scoring than in winning hearts and minds.

People with that kind of attitude won’t be going far in my marketing department. I expect, however, that HR will probably want to promote them off the back of their form-filling excellence. What a great way to do business.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here