5 takeaways from the Target job-aid lawsuit


I read this story this morning about the lawsuit filed against Target for what appears to be an ill-designed job aid or memo.  Here are my thoughts, for what it’s worth.

1. The company was quick to distance itself from the training document stating “…the instructional guide wasn't part of any “formal or company-wide training”.  Here’s a takeaway for you, ANY instructional materials used at the distribution center SHOULD have been reviewed and approved by the training department.  At one former employer, any document that went out with any of the company’s logos, trademarks, or the like was first and foremost reviewed and approved for distribution by the brand management team.  If marketing is afforded this opportunity to review appropriate uses of a company’s logo, training should be afforded an equal opportunity to ensure that any job aids communicating appropriate behavior (a key component of your culture) is aligned with the company’s values.  

2. One of the Plaintiffs claims that he complained to human resources, and his supervisors retaliated for it.  Said Plaintiff claims his manager "began using more racial epithets” and made attempts to humiliate him amongst his colleagues.  HR needs to conduct a solid investigation into this incident and this Manager, and should PROACTIVELY evaluate practices at its distribution centers and if it hasn’t already done so- provide diversity training to its management ranks.  

3. There appears to be some dissonance between the company’s values, and their policies and procedures.  This is both a cultural issue as well as a risk management issue.  In this era of social media and transparency―what a company and its agents DO carries much more weight than any written values in a memo or displayed somewhere.  Organizations struggle daily with developing their cultures, and incidents like these (if confirmed) set those efforts back immensely.  

4. If the manager’s actions in this case are confirmed, HR at Target should re-evaluate their procedures for preventing retaliation.  

5. Finally, instructional designers everywhere should rejoice, for none of us would ever instruct a learner to “…note differences among Hispanic employees” in a job aid or training course as alleged in this complaint.  How do I know?  It’s not a measurable behavior!

Alex Santos

Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.