Integration of Markets and Campuses Nets
the People Services Team at Cox Communications’
California System the 2013 Team Innovator of the Year
with the Herculean task of uniting the cultures and employee
experience of four diverse markets on five campuses, Cox
Communications’ California operation turned to its
People Services team for help. Led by Vice President of
People Sharon Smith, the team spent two
years integrating these disparate parts to create a consistent
employee experience and a single dynamic statewide enterprise.
For its outstanding work on this effort, CTHRA honored
the People Services team (pictured at left) with its 2013
Team Innovator of the Year Award.
To accomplish this task and ensure that
Cox Communications’ California system aligned its
initiatives with local and national business strategies,
Smith’s 30-member HR and management training team
took a four-pronged approach: ignite frontline leadership,
enhance communications channels, unite diversity councils
and develop a peer-to-peer rewards and recognition program.
Ignite Frontline Leadership
To understand what leaders needed, the team conducted
surveys and focus groups and identified five areas of
importance: clarity of role, coaching, tools and resources,
training and communication. Surveys uncovered leader concern
regarding the time spent
on administrative tasks such as time and labor, escalated
customer issues, accident investigation and others, explained
Smith (pictured at left).
“To reduce this administrative
burden, we are investigating the ‘right sizing’
of span-of-control and seeking a good model for the ratio
of employees to frontline leader,” Smith said. The
company also offered new training on time and labor with
flexible scheduling and investigated ways to reduce time
spent on accident investigation.
On the coaching front, the People Services
team hired a consultant to present a “Coaching Essentials”
workshop, facilitated multiple offerings of the Leadership
Development Team’s “Courageous Conversations,
Unleashing Talent and Influencing for Results” and
named on-the-job coaches for Care, Sales and Retention
to support ongoing coaching efforts.
To provide leaders with easily accessible
tools, the company launched a new Leadership Hub, a web-based
portal built in Sharepoint, and introduced more than a
dozen single-topic roundtables. Subjects include accident
reporting, time and labor, mileage and expense, etc. The
communications and HR team post announcements to the hub
on important leader-related topics, including upcoming
training, policy changes, contests, reminders, etc. Each
week, the system compiles the announcements and sends
an automated alert to all California leaders with that
week’s contents. In addition, the hub, which is
accessible by leaders only, has a quick links section,
planning calendar and shared file drive.
The leader surveys also uncovered a
desire for more flexible training schedules. In response,
the California system adjusted the timing and length of
its training programs. It hired a leadership-training
manager who works with the new on-the-job coaches to train
frontline leaders. New product and technical trainers
also support ongoing skills development. The People Services
team also launched a Smart Bytes webinar series on topics
that include dealing with difficult people, communicating
non-defensively and email management tips, etc.
To improve communication with leaders, the People Services
team spearheaded several new initiatives, including the
Leadership Hub, Leadership Digest, Leadership Roundtables
and The Cascade. However, communication wasn’t just
important to leaders. It was critical to providing consistent
messaging to every employee during the company’s
The People Services team took an innovative
approach — tailoring the communication media to
job function. For example, for field techs, the team created
a five-minute newscast every two weeks that techs watch
during their team meetings. In its call centers, the California
system launched an e-poster system that rotates messages
on monitors placed throughout the buildings. It also developed
a weekly email newsletter for all employees. The new communication
methods are proving popular. About 40% of employees view
the video newscast, and 30% open the weekly newsletter.
To ensure that leaders share the same
messages with all employees, People Services spearheaded
a new communication process called The Cascade, which
lists 10 to 15 ideas that every employee should understand.
Typical monthly Cascade topics include: product launches,
financial standing, customer retention, benefits, training
opportunities and technology updates. The Cascade helps
leaders concisely deliver the same concepts and verbiage
to employees face-to-face.
“With these new tools, leaders
improved their leadership skills, were held accountable
for meeting personally with their direct reports and developed
a deeper understanding of the company’s business
vision and goals,” Smith said.
Unite Diversity Councils
With the geographic, cultural and generational diversity
inherent to California, integrating the company’s
diversity councils was imperative. The People Services
team helped the system’s previously two separate
councils unite and develop a new focus based on the community,
customer, people and supplier and that also aligns with
Cox’s Corporate Diversity Council.
“Local initiatives set forth by
the council compliment our business approach in ensuring
inclusion in hiring and retaining people, supplier relationships,
community outreach and the products and services we offer
across Cox California,” noted Smith.
The new council was extremely effective,
achieving numerous wins in 2012, including:
- Developing a communications campaign
promoting diversity through social media, newsletter
and PSA production
- Running 6,000 PSA spots for some
- Recommending improvements to Customer
Service Operations targeted to Hispanic customers
- Launching a translation tool for
Field Service Operations
- Identifying Affirmative Action Plan
gaps and enhancing awareness and accountability with
- Holding second annual joint MSO Supplier
Diversity event with doubled attendance
- Extending partnerships with Women’s
Business Enterprise Council (WBEC), ELITE (disabled
veterans), and San Diego Minority Supplier Development
Diversity council members won recognition
for these efforts in 2012. Two members received awards
— Advocate of the Year and Supplier Diversity Achievement
— from the San Diego Regional Minority Supplier
Reward and Recognize Employees
The People Services team also helped
the company launch a new, statewide employee recognition
program — dubbed Surfing4Success — that provides
the added benefit of helping employees connect with each
other. The new program provides recognition in two
categories. The first, A Wave of Thanks!, enables all
California employees to send email thank you recognitions
to each other. “We encouraged all employees to make
frequent use of ‘A Wave of Thanks!’ to help
create a culture of appreciation,” Smith explained.
The second initiative, Epic Effort, is a points-based
program that allows leaders to award points, which employees
can redeem for prizes.
“Our recognition program is a
success. We currently enjoy a 93 percent activation rate
just one year into the program, and more than 34,000 recognitions
have been given out so far,” Smith said. “Our
management team has a participation rate of 88 percent,
and just under 1,500 items have been redeemed for reward
It’s not just the new recognition programs that
are a success. All of the initiatives are paying dividends
and positively impacting the business as illustrated by
the following successes:
- Safety administration reporting time
fell by more than 50%.
- Turnover fell by 20%.
- Human capital ROI increased by 10%.
- Customer satisfaction increased,
with the California operation finishing 2012 in a virtual
tie for the best CSAT scores in the company.
- Employees received business gain-share
payout for 2012 and 2011.
In spite of these successes, the
People Services Team isn’t resting on its laurels.
“HR continues to evolve as the business evolves
in a very competitive environment. We find ourselves operating
now in a highly matrixed environment that requires us
to be comfortable spanning across layers and reporting
structures to make the employee experience a positive
one, regardless of whether the employee reports locally
or is based in our local market but reports to our corporate
office in Atlanta,” noted Smith. “We in HR
see ourselves as business partners and are closely aligned
with the needs of our business partners. We will continue
to work on constant improvement of communication and collaboration
and transform HR as the business transforms.”
NBCU’s Pat Langer and Bright House Networks’
Angie Mazeres Honored for Leadership
By Abby Pfeiffer, CTHRA
Awards Chair and SVP of HR for Charter Communications
Leadership Excellence Award serves to recognize an HR
executive who has demonstrated extraordinary and visionary
leadership in addressing a critical business issue, challenge
or opportunity, exhibiting job excellence and a dedication
to the cable and satellite industry. The 2013 Leadership
Excellence Award recipient is Pat Langer,
EVP of HR for NBCUniversal (shown at left).
When Pat Langer took the helm of NBCUniversal’s
HR organization in January 2011, the company was experiencing
the most significant and far-reaching evolution in its
history. Pat faced the challenge of creating a world-class
HR organization in the midst of changing ownership, leadership
and strategic direction. Pat spearheaded the migration
of NBCUniversal’s HR function away from GE and integrated
it with the company’s new parent, Comcast. During
this two-year transformation, she seized the opportunity
to improve HR’s existing systems, processes and
policies. First, Pat
spent time connecting with the HR teams so she could better
understand their challenges, identify their strengths
and weaknesses and uncover the untapped opportunities.
Then Pat brought together the senior HR leaders from each
of the businesses to collectively establish a new, cohesive
HR mission and vision. Soon thereafter, she implemented
a multi-prong communication strategy to ensure the global
HR team understood the new HR roadmap, remained updated
on the business and received the tools they needed to
manage the ongoing changes. She also actively engaged
the HR team with in-person meetings to encourage networking
and best practices sharing.
While the NBCUniversal HR team achieved
an incredible number of milestones during the first two
years of Pat’s leadership, there were several particularly
notable accomplishments, including: rebuilding the corporate
HR specialty teams, including benefits, compensation,
learning and organizational development, talent acquisition,
and HR operations; transitioning HR systems from Oracle
to SAP; harmonizing retirement benefit options with Comcast;
rebuilding the talent life cycle by centralizing talent
acquisition, creating a dedicated executive search team
and building a new learning and organizational development
group; establishing new policies around compensation,
severance, employee benefits and travel, which reflected
the company’s new culture and alignment with Comcast;
and supporting the acquisition of msnbc.com and the creation
of the NBCUniversal News Group, Cable Entertainment Group
and Ad Sales organizations.
Now in the third year of the new Comcast
era, Pat continues to manage major organizational changes
while remaining committed to developing internal HR talent.
Congratulations to Pat on receiving this year’s
Leadership Excellence honor!
year, CTHRA expanded its Excellence in HR Awards
to recognize an emerging HR professional whose fresh perspective,
inventive ideas and innovative approach has positively
impacted the leadership and culture of the organization.
This year, our recipient is Angie Mazeres,
senior director of HR for Bright House Networks (left,
shown with her nominator, Pamela Hagan,
right, after accepting the award).
Angie joined Bright House Networks in
2004 as an HR generalist. Her can-do attitude and enthusiasm
for new projects helped her to progress to the position
of senior director of HR. Her achievements during this
eight-year journey are impressive. She has been involved in
all areas of human resources and became the resident benefits
expert in the Florida market and championed more effective
communications regarding benefits to Florida employees.
Bright House also tapped her to oversee HR in the markets
outside of Florida (Detroit, Indianapolis, Bakersfield
and Birmingham), where she helped transition them to a
more standard approach in several HR practice areas.
Angie supported the creation of an HR
SharePoint site, which provides a consolidated repository
for policies, training modules and process documents.
She also spearheaded the documentation of the company’s
policies and processes and developed its “Bright
Beginnings” new-employee orientation program.
Her creativity and knack for hospitality
made Angie the natural choice to head Bright House’s
annual Award of Excellence trip to Arizona, while her
leadership potential earned her a spot in Class I of the
company’s Women’s Leadership Circle, which
is now in its eighth year. Angie now serves as one of
the Women's Leadership Circle's co-leaders and is instrumental
in determining the curriculum and coordinating activities.
Angie Mazeres is definitely an HR leader
in the making, and we’re pleased to recognize her
with CTHRA’s 2013 Aspiring Leader Award!