Target CMO responds to employee rant over culture

Hadley Malcolm

A week after 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 retailer's Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Jones responded with a LinkedIn post titled "The Truth Hurts."

In the letter, which Gawker says was e-mailed to the website by a current midlevel employee at Target headquarters in Minneapolis, the employee writes about Target's unproductive staffing strategy that rewards socializing in the office over 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.

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

In an excerpt highlighted by Gawker, the employee writes, "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 Twin Cities would be devastated — around 15,000 people work for Target HQ at one of their numerous sites in the Twin Cities."

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The letter put Target's deteriorating workplace culture into the public eye two days after CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigned last week, as the company struggles to regain its luster five months after a massive data breach drove a wrench into customer satisfaction and took a toll on the company's fourth-quarter results. Target's Chief Information Officer Beth Jacob resigned in March, replaced last week with Target outsider Bob DeRodes, a rare move for a company that typically promotes from within.

Target Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Jones, the only person the anonymous Target employee said should stay at the company, responded to the letter on LinkedIn Tuesday with a post titled "The Truth Hurts."

Read More Lessons from Target's data breach fumble

Jones says, "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."

He also calls out other beloved brands that were once in jeopardy, but recovered, including Apple, Starbucks and J.Crew.

"Target is not the first brand in history to hit a rough patch," he says. "And we won't be the last brand to do what it takes to recover."

—By Hadley Malcolm, USA Today