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Cox: 5 Keys to a Successful Team and How to Improve the One You've Got

"Once you can picture an end goal, it's time to take the necessary measures to improve the situation you're in — one step at a time," writes Martin Jones.


Cox Communications is No. 18 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list

(Originally published on Cox Blue)

Most managers don't have the luxury of wiping the slate clean and hiring a brand new staff when something's not working. They've got to cultivate the team members they have into better performing individuals, which leads to a more efficient and productive group. It starts with understanding what a successful team looks like. Once you can picture an end goal, it's time to take the necessary measures to improve the situation you're in—one step at a time.

As we look at what it takes to make a successful team, it's important also to realize that there are important differences between leading a successful co-located team versus a distributed one. The principles are generally the same, but we'll also highlight some important differences you need to take into account.

1. Building Trust and Respect

Trust and respect go hand in hand, and they're also the twin building blocks of a team that works well together. In order to have one, you need to have the other. At the end of the day, most of the advice you get about building a successful team comes down to communication and building trust and respect.

One important thing to understand about both trust and respect is that they ultimately can't just be given, they have to be earned as well. It's not what you say that matters the most, it's what you do. You need to show that you deliver on your promises, that what you say will happen actually does happen.

Another big thing that will immediately win you trust and respect is not to be afraid to admit when you don't know something, or when you're wrong. Too many people double down when they're backed into a corner, and that can spell disaster when they're making a choice that's obviously wrong or ill-informed. You'll only get your team's best ideas if they know you'll listen to them and look at all your options when you don't know what to do.

2. Being Transparent in Big and Small Ways

Transparency is a major factor in trust and respect, especially if you're working with some people remotely. Even if we try to go in with an open and trusting mindset, it can be hard to build that foundation without the understanding that comes from working side-by-side with someone every day. In a remote environment, you should work diligently to make sure everyone connects as humans, whether that's taking a moment to talk about weekend plans or admitting you're feeling lousy because of some things going on in your life at the time.

On a more macro level, transparency is about making sure your entire team understands why you made a particular decision. Being open and honest about how and why you make your choices will help them understand what they should be thinking about and be prioritizing.

3. Talking it Out

With remote teams, you need to make sure you're not just using one mode of communication to do your check-ins. Face-to-face time, even if it's over the web, makes a huge difference. There can often be tech issues with video conferencing, so make sure you have a reliable broadband connection that can support your needs. Even just jumping on the phone can have a big impact on your relationship—a major part of communication comes down to the tone of voice and body language.

We've long known that emails are easy to misinterpret, and this can be exacerbated when one of your team members has messed up, or a miscommunication has occurred. If you've ever had to write a difficult email, you know it can be a massive use of your time just figuring out how to word something without sounding combative, accusatory, or self-righteous.

For co-located teams, it comes down to making sure the most important feedback is done in-person. If you have distributed members, you need to think about how easy you are to reach. With all the video conferencing tools available, it can be tempting to imagine you don't really need a phone number, but having a dedicated work number opens up a vital, informal channel of communication.

4. Providing Increased Flexibility

One key thing you can do to loosen up your environment is to offer increased flexibility with your expectations for when and how your employees show up to work. Some businesses are going to have more options than others, but going the extra mile to make things easier for your team will pay back in spades, because it gives you the opportunity to show that you trust them, instead of just talking about it.

When it comes to your bottom line, adding flexibility with work hours and work-from-home days costs you very little, but is viewed as a major perk by your workers.According to Inc, 1 in 4 workers experiences high levels of conflict between work and family life. At the same time, advances in how we use technologies like cloud storage, web-based applications, and collaboration software have made it easier than ever to be productive while working remotely.

Every company is different, but, in general, the best philosophy comes down to "as long as it gets done." Your employees are experts at what works best for them, and you're an expert at what needs to happen to build your business. The key is to find a balance between those two things for every individual, instead of having a one-size-fits-all solution.

5. The Small Perks That Make a Big Impact

A recent study at the University of Warwick found that happiness of workers led to a 12% increase in productivity, while unhappiness or dissatisfied workers were 10% less productive. While you don't necessarily have to be the Google of employee perks with on-site dry-cleaning and gourmet meals, small perks that show you care, can go a long way.

For example, offering some nicer amenities in the kitchen is a surprisingly low-cost way to really make it feel like you're going the extra mile. A few single-size French-presses and a water boiler offers employees a luxe coffee house experience but doesn't break the bank. A TV in the break room can keep employees informed of breaking news or events as they go about their day, and makes them less likely to take an extended internet excursion.

These kinds of perks offer tremendous bang for your buck. When you price it out, doing something like stocking the fridge with soft drinks and seltzer doesn't actually cost a whole lot, but it feels like an amazing perk. Ultimately what you're actually doing is helping your employees create positive habits around work by tapping intothe powerful psychology of reward loops. Perks are what motivates someone to come in early because they know they can have a cup of coffee and catch up on emails while the office is still quiet.

What You Can do Right Now

Building a team that works well together, wherever they are on the spectrum—from co-located to remote—is about making sure that you all align on certain fundamental values. The foundation is trust and respect, but you need to recognize that it takes time and effort to build them. You can also pay attention to what you're doing for employees: offering increased flexibility with remote work options, and little amenities like TV is a great way to show you care. Finally, make sure you have plenty of modes of communication, and that you take advantage of them to avoid misunderstandings.

  • Show that you deserve your team's respect and trust with excellent follow-through.
  • Make the effort to foster a more personal relationship with your employees.
  • Take advantage of various modes of communication—phones, video conferencing, chat, etc.—to cut down on misunderstandings.
  • Use cloud, video, and collaboration technologies to offer more flexibility.
  • Consider small perks that can do a lot for morale.

Martin Jones is the senior marketing manager with corporate Cox Communications social media team

Cox Changes Logo, Tagline to Bring People Closer

"This will be a journey, but we want our products and employees to be advocates of real connections, not just connectivity."

Originally Published by Cox Communications.

Cox creates millions of moments of human connections every day and will focus more on what makes these connections so powerful and unique. To emphasize this shift, the company is launching new advertising, a new logo with a warmer look and feel, and a tagline of "bringing us closer."

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Cox Raises Commitment To Bridge Digital Divide With $20 Million Pledge

Cox's Connect2Compete customers report affordable internet access at home gets kids more interested in school work and makes parent involvement easier.

Originally Published by Cox Communications.

Cox Communications announced the overwhelmingly positive results of a survey of Connect2Compete program participants, a program designed for low-income families in need of internet access at home. The vast majority of parents agree low-cost internet service at home gives children a leg up for high school graduation (91 percent) and helps students get higher grades (89 percent). During a press conference in Washington D.C., Cox President Pat Esser also announced Cox is expanding its commitment to bridge the digital divide with a commitment of $20 million annually.

Connect2Compete Survey Results

The recent survey of more than 1,700 Connect2Compete participants revealed parents agree Connect2Compete:

  • Makes it easier to communicate with teachers and the school (95 percent)
  • Sets children up for success (94 percent)
  • Makes children more interested in school work (88 percent)
  • The convenience of having internet access at home is among the greatest benefits (97 percent)

According to the survey, most Connect2Compete customers are first-time internet users. Many first-time internet users lack the digital literacy skills necessary to make the most of their internet connection. To help bridge this gap, Cox Communications offers free digital literacy training and resources through the Cox Digital Academy. The digital literacy training is designed to empower low-income families to build educational, economic and social opportunities crucial to realize the full potential of a home internet connection.

Cox Expands Commitment to Bridge Digital Divide

Joined by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Founder of EveryoneOn, Zach Leverenz, Esser revealed the company surpassed a significant program milestone and is expanding its commitment to bridge the digital divide during the press event. To date, more than 400,000 people have been connected to the internet via the Connect2Compete program and the company continues to invest in the program. Esser announced the company is pledging an additional 20 million dollars to support this initiative over the next year.

"With convenient, reliable internet access at home, students can readily focus on their school work, explore their passions and ultimately reach their full potential in life," said Pat Esser, president of Cox Communications. "We will continue devoting important resources – including discounted internet service – to bolster their success and close the digital divide."

Cox has offered a low-income internet program for nearly two decades, and has a strong history of exceeding its goals for providing access to technology to students and their families – in the classroom, in the community and in homes. Through public-private partnerships and a dedicated focus across the entire Cox organization, the company continues to lead the way in closing the digital divide in the communities it serves. By connecting schools, community centers like Boys & Girls

During the back-to-school season, empowering students with the right tools is top of mind for parents and teachers. Survey respondents reported the sign-up process for Connect2Compete is a positive experience, and most participants experienced no issues when signing up via telephone at 855-222-3252 or online at Cox also regularly hosts or attends events where families can sign-up in person.

"My number one priority at the FCC is to bridge the digital divide—the gap between Americans who have access to the internet and advanced technologies and those who don't, "said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "That's because the internet is increasingly critical in our daily lives. I've seen this for myself in my travels across the country and that's why the FCC has taken aggressive action to extend internet access. Every American deserves to have access to digital opportunity."

Cox: Retailers And Brands Measure Customer Engagement All Wrong

The problem isn't engagement itself, or even that marketing teams have sold their organizations on likes that didn't lead to sales – the problem is with how retailers and brands measure engagement.

Originally Published by Cox Communications.

By Nikki Baird

I came across a statistic a couple of weeks ago that intrigued me. According to a Journal of Marketing study, brands that invest in both social media and TV advertising sees a sales increase of 1% over a brand that invests in TV alone. And, the study notes, "A neutral or even negative social media post with high engagement will impact sales more than a positive post that draws no likes, comments, or shares. This is true even among customers who say their purchase decisions are not swayed by what they read on social media."

In other words, customers who are more engaged are more likely to spend. And engagement is so contagious, that consumers only have to see that others are getting engaged to actually be swayed, whether they realize it or not.

That says a lot about the power of engagement.

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Cox Business Acquires RapidScale

Strategic acquisition strengthens Cox Business' managed services and connected cloud offerings.

Originally Published by Cox Communications.

Cox Business, the commercial division of Cox Communications, announced its acquisition of RapidScale, a leading managed and hybrid managed cloud services provider that delivers secure and reliable cloud solutions to businesses of all sizes.

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Cox Communications Names Perley McBride as Chief Financial Officer

Perley Mc Bride has more than 20 years of experience in financial roles in the communications industry, including a decade at Frontier.

Originally Published by Cox Communications.

Cox Communications announced that Perley McBride will join the company as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Most recently, McBride was executive vice president and chief financial officer of Frontier Communications.

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YouTube Kids and NPR One Come to Cox Contour!

Cox continues to make it easy for customers to easily access everything in one place, adding YouTube Kids and NPR One alongside Netflix, YouTube, iHeartRadio, On Demand and live TV programming.

Originally Published by Cox Communications.

Cox Communications announced that YouTube Kids and NPR One are now available for Contour customers, providing seamless access to video and audio content choices right alongside TV programming, On Demand content, DVR recordings and more. Cox Contour customers can use their voice remote to launch and watch YouTube Kids videos and NPR One audio directly on their televisions, with no secondary device or need to switch inputs. These two apps are the latest additions to a series of apps accessible via the Contour platform, including Netflix, YouTube and iHeartRadio.

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Cox Launches New Spanish Language Content in Expanded Digital Academy

Free Resources Boost Digital Literacy Skills for Better Education, Jobs, Housing Opportunities and More.

Originally Published by Cox Communications.

At the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) National Convention, Cox Communications announced the expansion of the Cox Digital Academy to include free Spanish-language resources designed to broaden opportunities for the Hispanic population through technology. Cox Digital Academy, part of Cox's commitment to narrow the digital divide, offers valuable online resource for parents, students and educators seeking to improve their digital skills. Cox is also supporting the convention by educating families about the discounted home internet service available through its Connect2Compete program.

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