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Target’s ‘wiki’ culture starts with CEO

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in Leaders & Managers,Profiles in Leadership,Team Building

Some CEOs call their managers or send emails in the middle of the night to signal the kind of 24/7 work ethic they expect. Gregg Steinhafel does just the opposite.

Steinhafel, CEO of Target Corp., starts his day before 4 a.m. If he’s about to send an email, he’ll often stop himself and wait until the normal business day.

“We have a sense of urgency, but we have a respectful culture not predicated on those types of responses,” he says. “We don’t call people at night.”

To create a more collaborative culture, Steinhafel encourages Target’s 365,000 employees to harness social media. The retail giant with 1,772 stores has developed an internal online platform that enables workers at all levels to post comments, share ideas and engage in Facebook-like interaction with each other. For example, they can click on posts that they “like” and “follow” colleagues or work groups and get updates on them.

To codify best practices, Steinhafel’s team has devised an internal “wiki”—an encyclopedia for employees that includes product information and preserves in­­stitutional knowledge. Team members in stores, distribution centers and other offices can exchange questions and answers through this online tool.

A big believer in teamwork, Steinhafel champions mentoring as a way to enhance in-house learning.

For Steinhafel, leadership also consists of listening to employees’ input and acting on it. Through annual surveys, all 365,000 workers get a chance to provide feedback on the organization. More than 300,000 do. Steinhafel reads summaries of the input prepared by the HR team and responds directly to many suggestions.

— Adapted from “How Target’s CEO Inspires Teamwork At A Massive Scale,” Lydia Dishman,

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