This week Target announced it was firing Canada head Tony Fisher as company leaders decide what to do about its billion dollar losses in Canada.
There has been a lot of discussion about what factors contributed to the losses, but one insider suggests a refusal to deviate from US policies and a lack of support for employees were significant problems.
The anonymous worker told US news
site Gawker that the company’s “passive aggressive” performance management felt like “swimming with smiling sharks” and said the problems the stores faced were widespread and deeply ingrained.
The worker said International Assignees – or IAs – were key U.S. employees who came to Canada to help set up stores, but who were determined to stick to the U.S. practices.
“Instead, we found that these folks were not guides or resources, as much as they were obstacles to progress,” the worker wrote. “To come to a country as large, demographically and regionally different as Canada, and assume that the same ‘playbook’ used in the U.S. would work in Canada was incredible.”
They cite a lack of flexibility, refusal to allow any innovation and an inability to keep basic stock in store as the main failures. The order system allegedly did not let stores see what stock to expect, and they were expected to stick so exactly to the floorplan that they had to leave shelves empty instead of filling spaces with the stock they did have.
This meant lower sales, unhappy customers and eventually staffing cuts of almost 40% per store.
“Have you been to a Target store in Canada recently? If you go with your kids, you likely outnumber the staff on duty at any one time. The service culture that was so important to Target… is now non-existent,” the worker wrote. “The toll this has taken on Team Members is shameful. You have a 1 in 3 chance you'll be ‘rightsized’ out of a job.”
Those left behind face heavier workloads, lower morale and the fear that their job will be the next to go.
“Target coming to Canada was a complex problem, many saying it was rushed, and it's true. The seeds of Target Canada's problems were sown way before the first store even opened – it was with the flawed plan and dogged determination to execute it anyway,” they said. “Overall I'd call my time with Target frustrating because it was an unfulfilling experience that did not leverage the experience and talent of the people they hired.”