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What you can learn about starting your next new job from the Target CMO


In the Sunday edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, I read an article about Target’s new CMO, Jeff Jones, and what he’s doing to make his mark for the retail giant.

The article was really focused on Jones–and what moves he’s taken to move the brand forward during his first year.

But, when I read the article, one things stood out to me: How the CMO came into Target and made his mark without upsetting the proverbial apple cart. Jones has a pragmatic approach that I really agree with–and I think it’s relatable to most every leader (from manager all the way to CMO) when they start a new job.


Think about it.

If you are–or have been–a manager, what was one of the toughest parts of your job? Undoubtedly it was the process of coming into the job, winning the trust of your team members and figuring out how to best motivate them and achieve your team’s goals.

Think about what Jones had to deal with at Target–especially following a successful CMO like Michael Francis. Earning trust. Building new relationships. Repairing broken ones. Assessing skill sets on his teams.

These are all challenges every new manager deals with.

So, what can you learn from Jones when it comes to starting a new leadership role? Here’s three quotes from the article I thought were interesting–and what I think they mean for you:

Quote: “If you come into a job and make changes too fast, you’re a bad listener. If you make changes too slowly you’re indecisive. There’s not a recipe on how to guide that.”

What it means for you: Love this quote because it’s all about the art of walking the tigh rope when you come into a new job. My theory has always been to resist the urge to come in, dictate terms and clean house. Instead, why not spend the first few months on the job listening? To your staff. To others that work with your staff. To your boss (whomever that is). Listen for three months, then take action. You’ll have valuable information upon which to make important decisions about your team’s future. That’s what Jones is getting at here.

Quote: “I absolutely felt I had to reach out and build relationships with them that are the same kind of important relationships that merchandising chief Kathy Tesija and I have. That was true three, five years ago. Every day that passes, our worlds get closer.”

What it means for you: In this quote, Jones was referring to forging new relationships with the the heads of digital and mobile at Target, as well as the CIO. These are folks who, in the past, the CMO may have not worked with quite as closely. But in today’s environment, they’re key partners for Jones. So, why not get closer to these folks? Get to know them. Find out what motivates them. What their goals are–and how you can help them achieve those goals, together. This is key to any new manager. Find out who your potential partners are internally at the same level–whether they work in digital, marketing, PR or even areas outside marketing (like IT, product or research). Find those people and make friends with them early on. Those partnerships will most likely pay off–probably sooner rather than later. Seems pretty cliche, I know. But believe me when I say not everyone takes the time to do this–be a relationship-builder.

Quote: “I don’t know if there is a playbook on how to do it. But I have a basic principle. You have go give to get.”

What it means for you: Here Jones is clearly talking about that relationship-building approach we discussed above. His approach–which I love–“give to get.” We know how that plays out online, but in the corporate world it’s just as important. Want that manager you’ve been working with in product to help your team out on a campaign? You gotta think about what you could do to help her first. Want to build a stronger relationship with the head of digital? How can you help his team achieve their goals this quarter? Think through how you can help your managerial brethren and you’ll be surprised how often they repay the “favor.”



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