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Target's CMO Admits Culture Problems, Tells Employees 'Truth Will Set You Free'


Target's chief marketing officer isn't trying to block out criticism. Instead, he's embracing it.

In a Linkedin Influencer blog post Tuesday, Target's Jeff Jones took a bold stance on how a company in crisis should reclaim its culture. Instead of deflecting blame, Jones says that criticism should be used to fuel improvements. 

"The culture of Target is an enormous strength and might be our current Achilles heel," he wrote. "In the coming days and weeks we will embrace the critiques of Target -- whether it’s from outsiders or our own team -- like an athletics team puts the negative press on the wall in the locker room."

Jones, who joined Target in 2012, certainly knows a thing or two about negative press. While Target's data breach and the departure of its CEO have been huge blows for the retail chain, he says that one of the biggest challenges has been rumors that the company's culture is in crisis.

Jones says he was prompted to address these claims after a "well-known blog" published a bleak account of life at Target written by an anonymous employee. He admits the piece was difficult to read, but says such honesty is "a gift" and that much of what was said was true.

Related: Do You Stand by Your Brand? It's Time for an Audit.

"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 writes.

He goes on to quote French novelist Emile Zola: "If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way."

So, Jones is hoping that the truth – both the good and the bad – can help revitalize the company. He acknowledges that Target has hard work to do, and has challenged Target employees to push themselves to meet the challenge.

"Yes, the truth hurts. But it will also set you free," he sums up the blog post. "Our job now is to create a new truth and that is exactly what we are doing."

Related: Target's CEO Steps Down. But Why Now?

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