retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

USA Today reports that Target CMO Jeff Jones has taken an unusual approach to public criticisms of the company's leadership aired online by a mid-level employee.

He said the person had a point.

According to the story, about a week ago Gawker "published an anonymous rant from a Target corporate employee that further revealed the extent to which the retailer's massive data breach has affected both employee and customer morale … the employee writes about Target's unproductive staffing strategy, which the employee says rewards socializing in the office above producing results, and Target's copy-cat tendency to follow what other retailers are doing instead of innovating. The employee calls for a leadership overhaul," and the posting said that "if Target doesn't make a serious change in their leadership and culture, it will end up being a Kmart, a Sears, or even worse, a Circuit City."

Jones then went on LinkedIn and posted a response under the title, "The Truth Hurts."

"While we would have preferred to have a conversation like this with the team member directly, speaking openly and honestly, and challenging norms is exactly what we need to be doing today and every day going forward," Jones wrote, adding, "Target is not the first brand in history to hit a rough patch. And we won't be the last brand to do what it takes to recover."

To be fair, Jones is the only senior executive that the anonymous employee did not want to be fired. But it is a very smart response … and probably different from what a lot of companies might have done. (I can think of a few that would've preferred to seek out and fire the offending employee.)

The fact is that the truth hurts. But ultimately - and this is an Eye-Opener - the truth also helps.
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