Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The charnel house at 11th and Nicollet

I worked at Target Corporation for 8½ years and while I left there six years ago, I still have a lot of friends there. The news that the retailer is the latest to lay off a large number of workers hits hard. I would wager that just about everyone who lives in the Twin Cities knows someone who works for the Bullseye. I haven't made my calls yet, but I fear that some of my friends are no longer with the company after today.

Target is a strange company, by turns benevolent and ruthless. Target famously has set aside 5% of its profits for community service projects and during my time there I saw the company undertake a number of highly successful community-based initiatives. At the same time, there was a saying among Targetoids, especially in the district and regional offices: the day you're hired, the bullet is fired. Target has never hesitated to jettison people who didn't measure up to whatever metric was in place at the time. And if you were on the outs, it was a hellish place to be. The one job that always seemed to open up was toy buyer; guess right on the animatronic Elmo and you get a big bonus. Guess wrong and you're gone. Most years it was easy to guess wrong.

The people who work for the company, especially at the corporate headquarters, are uniformly bright, engaged and diligent people. I met more intelligent, talented people at Target than at any other place I've worked, which includes a Chicago law firm that was filled with attorneys sporting Ivy League credentials.

It's impossible to predict what is going to happen next, but this much I know: a person with a great idea and some venture capital ought to be hanging out on 11th Street and Nicollet Mall this afternoon, looking for people carrying boxes. There will be some very talented people looking for a new opportunity.

1 comment:

Gino said...

reminds me of my time in aerospace.

had great time, with great people, in a decent job...
til you show up for work and your dept is told to pack up and head for the gate.