Target Internal Communications Process Insights

Bringing balance to the adoption of new internal communications best practices and how Team Members really work.


During the 2013 holiday season, Target’s data was breached by hackers, containing sensitive Guest (customer) and Team Member (employee) information. In addition to consumer trust issues, this caused Team Member morale and engagement to quickly trend downward. Many Team Members left the company, the C-Office went through change in leadership, and the company closed down all locations in Canada.

With Change Comes Transformation

In the wake of this breach, Target doubled its effort to rebuild trust with its guests and Team Members. Due to the critical nature of this issue, Target’s CMO recommended to HR and Communication leaders that they need to find an agency that specializes in internal communications, employee engagement and cultural transformation to help Target begin to get control of the issue through management of internal communications and employee engagement. Our assignment was to evaluate Target’s current state of internal communications practices and provide recommendations for a future state. Our mutual goal was to modernize Target’s internal communications strategy to turnaround Team Member sentiment and bring back a feeling of stability, security, and overall improved engagement.


Discovering Insights

We started with a rapid planning phase in the form of several meetings to immerse our team into Target’s culture, objectives, issues/constraints. Our specialists interviewed several Team Members who were either part of the internal communications team, HR, or the various business groups that managed their data and business intelligence. Early insights indicated Target’s internal communications practices would benefit from a more data-driven methodology. By making decisions based on evidence derived from data (versus anecdotal or personal experience) Target HR and internal communications’ impact would have much greater success creating a positive atmosphere with their business and Team Members.

Some insights captured were:

  • There was a genuine desire by communication team members to augment their skills in measurement and evidence-based decision-making
  • Supporting business groups (i.e. HR Business Intelligence, Guest Insights, Operations) were supportive of internal communications taking on this augmentation and happy to assist where they could (i.e. shared knowledge, tools, technology, resources)
  • Internal communications does a good job at moving at the pace of the business
  • Internal communications reputation was positive

We also learned:

  • Business groups outside of internal communications didn’t know what expectations to have on internal communications
  • Internal communications team members and leadership were unable to articulate the business’ measure of success, which is core to a data-driven methodologies success
  • While internal communications moves at a fast pace, they would have to adjust to afford time to execute a more data-driven approach
  • To modify its operations and tools, internal communications must be sensitive to, and evolve its business group’s culture in order to become more measurement and data-driven


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