Target exec says "truth hurts" in response to employee's scathing criticism

Categories: Target
TargetHQ.jpg
This building isn't a fun place to work, a mid-level Target Corp. employee says.
Gawker's Hamilton Nolan has made a cottage industry out of publishing Target-bashing emails sent to him by unnamed Target Corp. employees in recent years, so it wasn't surprising to see him run another one yesterday in a post entitled, "Target Headquarters 'In Desperate Need of Help,' Says Employee."

What is somewhat surprising, however, is that a Target exec directly responded to his company's latest unflattering leak on LinkedIn, of all places. (We can't remember the last time a LinkedIn post made news, if ever!)

See also:
A City Pages retrospective on CEO Gregg Steinhafel's controversial tenure

The email published by Gawker was written by "a current mid-level employee at Target's headquarters in Minnesota," to use Nolan's words.

"The Target culture is very Minnesota - it's very passive aggressive," the employee writes. "They expect you to conform to them, to be 'Targetized' and drink the Koolaid. If you aren't super bubbly, super social and passive aggressive, you get told that you're a problem. Being direct, wanting to actually get your work done, asking questions and pushing back are all viewed as bad things and you'll be told to tone it down or you'll be pushed out."

Corporate culture aside, the employee says Target's business model is hopelessly behind the times.

"[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 employee writes. "The entire executive team with the exception of the [Chief Marketing Officer] 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."

The employee predicts that if Target doesn't get its act together fast, it'll go the way of Pamida.

"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," the email says. "The Twin Cities would be devastated -- around 15,000 people work for Target HQ at one of their numerous sites in the Twin Cities. The local economy would be hit super hard. Sadly I don't see Target getting better, and I'm actively looking for employment elsewhere."

Yesterday, Target CMO Jones responded to all that in a LinkedIn post entitled, "The Truth Hurts." But instead of trying to make a case that the employee was mischaracterizing what's really going on at Target Corp., Jones took the criticism on the chin.

(For more, click to page two.)



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62 comments
sekhmet1
sekhmet1

As an ex-targeteer, I loved my job when I was there at HQ, but I do agree wholeheartedly that this IT guy's letter is spot-on. The culture was creepy and punished people who performed and produced actual results. Those spending their days at Starbucks on Nicolette Ave in Target-sactioned "status meetings" were the golden children.


If store employees knew how little the HQ golden children really worked, they would revolt. Target store people have my respect---they did all of the heavy lifting while salaried HQ people dictated policies and POGS impossible to execute with low store staffing.


And yes, Target HQ little queen bees treat the waitstaff at the Local, Newsroom and the like AWFULLY and don't tip. I see that nervous post by the manager of said establishment…but admit it, target mean girls treat your staff like dirt. I've seen it at too many happy hours as I've thrown in more than my fair share of the tip out of guilt, knowing that others probably won't.


Target people at HQ are mostly horrible people.

eddogg67
eddogg67

There's a company in Medina called Open Systens International Inc. they have the exact same company culture with some of the most passive aggressive backstabbing people you'll ever meet. They are a bad company so don't work for them or do business with them. The CEO runs it like a kindergarten. Think of Avery on American Dad

Andy Larson
Andy Larson

So, the employee is going to get fired for this.

Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1 topcommenter

What are corporations like Target... well they are nothing more than a credit line that imports crap from China.

Having been an outside consultant to Target I've seen their staff is mostly Millennials.  I figure they hire them cause they're cheap, and they don't ask a lot of questions.  Nothing really challenging about working there.

When we have the next economic recession (never really recovered from the last) some credit lines might get really shakey.   See what happens then.

Tracy Rudolph
Tracy Rudolph

Worked there less than a yr. Upper management had no clue and if you question anything you were labeled a trouble maker. ..

Emily Bollensen
Emily Bollensen

Worked in the stores as an ETL. All A-holes and the author is correct. Heaven forbid you have a thought or a question. Worst 5 years of my life from a career perspective. Also, you must fit a certain "look" to stay employed. I was lucky I left. Many of my hard working peers were fired for BS reasons.

Jeremy Hageman
Jeremy Hageman

Lol Anybody that uses the term "drink the kool aid" should be written off as a tool and ignored

Lynn Gehrls
Lynn Gehrls

Karyn Hansen I can't have my opinion? And because I don't paint Target as a great company--that means I'm bitter? If you're upset with my comments--then just text me. Don't put it out on public forum. You know me better than that.

Heidi Huser
Heidi Huser

I'm fed up with Target despite being a lifelong customer. A number of reasons dating back a few years. With no response from Target to legitimate concerns expressed to them. I cancelled my Target card & avoid it whenever possible, just like Walmart. Even though it's inconvenient to do so. Target needs to understand that they can't just ignore people's needs and concerns. And their "regular" employees probably have a much better idea of what those are than the higher-ups. Maybe they should allow some dissent.

Jack Yahalo
Jack Yahalo

Well, Dan Lemke, server at Kieran's Irish Pub, I'm sure all the employees at Target will be happy to hear just how much contempt you have for the customers who keep you employed. They'll happily tip you well now! Bravo good sir!

Julie S. Johnson
Julie S. Johnson

Is it passive-aggressive Target business practice to list items 'in stock' at the nearest store on their website, 45 minute drive from me, but have ZERO on the shelf once we get there? Target is going downhill fast. Best Buy got my $120 last night, but the bad taste in my mouth will last a long time.

Amy Bohn
Amy Bohn

My Target experience was worse than high school. In retrospect it's pretty ridiculous. This email didn't go far enough! But I'm long gone, and the "mean girls" don't have to upset their delicate sensitivities by working with such an outcast :-)

Karyn Hansen
Karyn Hansen

Lynn I'm so sorry you have these bitter feelings towards your time at Target. I had no idea you felt this way. After 17 years, I know that I have certainly worked hard. Like every company, there is good and bad. I've worked with many friends and co-workers that have worked just has hard as I have. Those that didn't, don't work there anymore.

Lynn Gehrls
Lynn Gehrls

As someone that worked at Target Corp in the merchandising world - aka The Golden Children - this employee is pretty close to hitting it. Some of it is cattiness-- but the gist is spot on.

Lynn Gehrls
Lynn Gehrls

Matthew-- not Stepford Wives. The correct term is "Tarbots". :)

Noel Barrick
Noel Barrick

Bob, I think I know who you are talking about.

Matthew Stegmueller
Matthew Stegmueller

The person who wrote this isn't wrong though. As somebody who's worked at Target's headquarters as a contractor I thought the whole place had kind of a Stepford Wives vibe.

kayjayp11
kayjayp11

well let me take a stab at this... my bet is that this person who is deriding the culture at Target is a transplant from a region of the country (lets say Chicago) that prides themselves on being jerks and pushy, and arrogant, and ya know. Homespun culture is not a bad thing. Probably received job due to some program to help underachieving malcontents who Target felt was just misunderstood.

Dan Lemke
Dan Lemke

They fail to recognize how cheap, rude and entitled Target employees are when they flock to local restaurants, acting lkke they are higher up than those serving them. Move Corporate to Bloomington.

Dale Karels
Dale Karels

This is Corporate America isnt it a nice foundation that Republicans have made ?

Damian Amberg
Damian Amberg

It was more sarcasm than passive-aggressive. I think that term is overused and people have lost touch with the actual meaning of it. Passive maybe, but not aggressive. But, as we both know, it's more and more difficult to play 'remote control pop psych' today.

Dan Mason
Dan Mason

Target who? Are they like Amazon?

Bob Alberti
Bob Alberti

Oh yeah - the reason she didn't like me was fun: I worked for her boss at the other job. Her boss brought her in to the company. One day I walked by the boss's office and this woman was in it. She'd come in, backstabbed the person who sponsored her into the company, and took the boss's job. I had to go, of course, as the witness to her perfidy. Then six years later she got to fire me again. She was a piece of work. If you ever get a job you may learn how these kinds of people exist in workplaces everywhere. Maybe you'll even be one.

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

nothing is worse than being passive aggressive. it means you are weak and closeminded

Bob Alberti
Bob Alberti

Nice, so you're passive aggressively calling me a liar. How Minnesotan of you, you ought to go work at Target.

Damian Amberg
Damian Amberg

I'm sure that's exactly what happened and you gave her zero reasons not to like you or fire you. We are all victims today, I feel your pain.

Mary Johnson Strand
Mary Johnson Strand

We would all be better of without target stores popping up on every corner. Buy local. Support the corner store. Say goodbye to the big box.

Damian Amberg
Damian Amberg

True Mary. I just found the irony of the comments intriguing. The poster mentions passive-aggressive as the main issue, yet by posting anonymously is being passive-aggressive themselves. It may be true, but anything posted anonymously on the internet I am skeptical of and others should be as well before it blows out of proportion. If you don't like the job, leave.

Mary Johnson Strand
Mary Johnson Strand

Because the mother ship does not allow you to have your own thoughts or opinions. Haha

Bob Alberti
Bob Alberti

The first time I was fired it was because they brought in a new manager for me - a woman who had fired me from a prior position at a different company six years earlier because she simply didn't like me. Her reason for firing me this time was "wearing a hat indoors in violation of policy" because I donned a hat just before stepping out of the building into the rain. Of course she simply wanted any excuse to fire me again, and she made it clear she really enjoyed the opportunity. The second time was more complicated but no less unreasonable.

Mary Johnson Strand
Mary Johnson Strand

Or he is just honest. I've worked for corporations just like target were you are paid to work. Not think.

Damian Amberg
Damian Amberg

No one ever gets fired for a just cause anymore. I'm sure they fired you because they just felt like it... "Possibly if they played less politics and managed people better they might have retained some expertise, vis a vis me and others like me" If they wanted to retain your 'expertise' they would not have fired you. This sentence reads like it was you that made the decision to take your expertise elsewhere due to 'politics.'

Bob Alberti
Bob Alberti

Odds are you're from a dysfunctional family where authoritarian parents discouraged anyone from "rocking the boat," so when someone complains about anything your reflexive response is to tell them to shut up before everyone else gets in trouble. I'm sorry, we're playing "remote control pop psych," aren't we?

Bob Alberti
Bob Alberti

Because if he said anything remotely akin to that in the workplace, he would be fired. How do you not get that? I had a relative who wanted to get fired from Target corporate, so he gave up doing any useful work and began to simply walk around and chat with people. After 18 months and two raises he was forced to quit if he wanted to leave.

CF_MN
CF_MN

While I agree "drinking the kool aid" is a bit colloquial, literally every friend I know who has or currently works at Target HQ (5-6 people) have all used the exact same line to describe the culture there.

waitca
waitca

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however this opinion is definitely NOT shared by the rest of Kieran's management and staff.  We truly value our customers from Target.  I can't speak for their company culture, however quite a few Target staffers have become long time customers and very good friends. - Craig Wait, Kieran's General Manager

herculestrockefeller
herculestrockefeller

Some people work hard. Some people work smart. Which do you think succeed?

jbenecasa
jbenecasa

Considering MN has always been a Democrat-leaning state, I think you may have to rephrase that sentence, at least while discussing Target.


Also, there's some unavoidable punctuation errors in your comment. You may want to "bone up" on your native tongue. 

eddogg67
eddogg67

Wait for this person at their car when work let's out. You're gonna have to start settling this stuff at the parking lot.

sekhmet1
sekhmet1

@waitca As an ex-targeteer, I can vouch for Dan's discontent. Target brats treat your people terribly.

camerontkieffer
camerontkieffer

@jbenecasa  Dale is correct.  Target is very conservative and the GOP has done exceptionally well building their true support base out of corporations and the American voters who mistakenly believe that allowing corporate tax breaks while also permitting offshore workforce(s) and corporate bank accounts will trickle down to them..  You might want to realize that where a corporation is located and the political leanings thereof, are irrelevant in this day and age.  Corporations are autonomous; recognized as "people" and yet, not bound by any of the same rules, taxes or regulations as citizens.  

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