The email published on Gawker from an anonymous Target worker claimed the company's headquarters is "in bad shape and in desperate need of help, direction and vision, starting from the top down." The response, in short, from Jeff Jones, chief marketing officer at Target: "The truth hurts."
Mr. Jones went public with a post on LinkedIn to address reports that have depicted Target as a corporate culture in crisis.
The email on Gawker was quite specific about the problems facing Target including:
Weak management - Replacing the CEO and CIO were good first steps, but everyone with the exception of Mr. Jones "needs to go."
Lack of original thinking - Target's buy online, pick-up in-store and streaming video service are two examples of management's me-too approach to business.
Staff working at 50 percent of capacity - The company has more workers than it needs because half their time is spent in meetings or participating in volunteer or Fast Fun & Friendly ("basically an excuse to not be working") events.
Passive aggressive culture - People ostracized for questioning why things are done the way they are. Getting promoted at Target is more about popularity than talent and hard work.
Canada - Expanding up north was a mistake that's getting worse. Executives who failed to get the job done in Canada have come back to the U.S. and received promotions.
Mice abandoning a sinking ship - People are looking for jobs outside the company and emails regularly go out that, "So and So has resigned to pursue other opportunities."
In his post, Mr. Jones admitted that his initial response to the Gawker report was anger, but "team members speaking with honesty is a gift." While he would have preferred that the conversation with the unnamed co-worker had been done face-to-face and in-house, he admitted that "much" of what was posted was true. He did not, however, address the specifics of what was or was not accurate.
"The very real fact of the matter remains, we have hard work to do," wrote Mr. Jones. "The kind of work that is unafraid to challenge what we've known and what has worked in the past. The kind of work that expects more than ever from our team, and ourselves. The kind of work that will be uncomfortable, in order to make Target irresistible."
While admitting that some elements of Target's way of doing business could prove to be negative going forward, Mr. Jones felt the pros, particularly in marketing, outweighed the cons.
"Even on our worst day, we have assets most brands would covet," he wrote. "Tens of millions of consumers each week share their love for Target with their wallets and their voices. ... We are taking bold risks and innovating like never before."
Who will react most positively to Jeff Jones' response to public criticism of Target?