This is the CEO of LinkedIn:
Jeff Jones, Target's chief marketing officer, took to LinkedIn Tuesday evening to tell employees and industry observers that while "the truth hurts," the retailer plans to embrace critiques in coming days and weeks as it works to overcome its current rough patch.
Target, which makes more than $70 billion in sales a year, has had a difficult go of it since mid-December, when it faced the biggest retail hack in United States history. The fallout, which includes 80 related lawsuits and federal and state investigations into how Target dealt with the attack, led to the big resignation of Chief Executive Officer Gregg Steinhafel last week, not long after the dismissal of its chief information officer.
Adding to the upheaval, an anonymous mid-level employee emailed a rant about the company's leadership and future to Gawker last week that was widely disseminated, and which Jones chose to respond to with an essay on LinkedIn.
"Target HQ is in bad shape and in desperate need of help, direction and vision, starting from the top down," the employee wrote on Gawker. "[Former CEO] Greg Steinhafel getting fired was a good step, along with the CIO being fired a few months ago, but it's not enough. The entire executive team with the exception of the CMO Jeff Jones needs to go. Why? Because everyone was homegrown and 'Targetized' and has no concept of how to run a 21st century business. They still think it's 1996 and you can keep throwing up Target stores and suburban moms will love them. They pay lip service to how retail is evolving but it when it comes to actually making good decisions, they do horribly."
Between the data breach and Steinhafel's exit after six years on the job and 35 at the company, "you'd think that these two incidents alone would create enough pain to last a brand a lifetime," Jones wrote on LinkedIn. "But one of the most challenging things that has happened, in my opinion, have been reports, some attributed to unnamed team members, that paint a picture of a culture that is in crisis. When a recent post on a well-known blog called me out by name, it only felt right that I should respond."
Jones said while he was initially angry over the post, he noted that "speaking with honesty is a gift," and that "speaking openly and honestly, and challenging norms is exactly what we need to be doing today and every day going forward."
He acknowledged that "the very real fact of the matter remains, we have hard work to do." Jones said he told his marketing leaders recently, "The work ahead will unite us like never before because our guest is our bullseye, and our common enemy is apathy and indifference. If you don't believe this. If you are not reinvigorated at this very important moment in time. If you are too tired or too cynical for this work, please leave."
Jones also said that Target will "embrace the critiques" whether from inside the company or from outsiders, "like an athletics team puts the negative press on the wall in the locker room." Its culture is "an enormous strength" but possibly an Achilles' heel, he wrote.
He acknowledged Target is accelerating its innovation pipeline, simplifying decision making, then threw in they are also "exploding cultural symbols of bad behavior."
He closed with, "Yes, the truth hurts. But it will also set you free. Our job now is to create a new truth and that is exactly what we are doing." The full letter is below.
Responses were mixed:
Sapna Maheshwari is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Maheshwari reports on retail and e-commerce.
Contact Sapna Maheshwari at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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