Cox Communications Telecommunications

The Challenge

Cox Communications is a Fortune 500 broadband communications and entertainment company offering an array of advanced digital video, high-speed Internet, and telephone services nationwide. The organization is dedicated to continuous improvement to meet the competitive demands of the market and believes the key to success is through the outstanding performance of its 20,000 employees.

To meet this need for continuous improvement, the organization set out to create an accountability-based culture that would be supported by a consistent performance management process. As Erin Hand, Vice President of Talent and Development for Cox Communications explains, “We were looking for an approach that would position performance management as a partnership between managers and employees, and would encourage open communication, in order to align individual goals with overall strategic goals.”

The Solution

The first step toward creating this culture was to identify a performance management model that went beyond an emphasis on filling out forms, and instead focused on increasing the frequency and quality of performance-related conversations between managers and employees. For Melanie Cadenhead, Director of Leadership Development at Cox, that model was The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Situational Leadership® II. As she explains it, “If you look at the objectives of Situational Leadership® II, it hit the mark for everything that we were looking for.”

Working together with The Ken Blanchard Companies, Cox Communications created a new leadership development program—Leading for Results. Using The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Situational Leadership® II (SLII®) Model as the foundation the new program was delivered to approximately 2,500 leaders throughout the organization with a focus on diagnosing employee development levels, adapting leadership styles to meet the needs of the employee, and providing feedback that is ongoing, specific, and objective.


Launched in January, the program has delivered impressive results. To date more than 1,800 of the projected 2,500 leaders have participated in the program so far and an ongoing impact study conducted by Cox has shown that 60%–70% of attendees are reporting more impactful and valuable One on One meetings with employees as a result of the training.

As one manager reported, “Having regular One on Ones has really helped me have a stronger feel for what is going on in my department. Before, we would meet when we could, but by making it a priority, I gain a better working relationship with my staff and am better informed.”

Leading for Results has not only encouraged more conversations but also better ones. As another graduate of the program said, “I am now diagnosing people when I assign work. This helps me and my supervisors to more effectively manage. For example, when we know we are getting someone who is a Disillusioned Learner on a task, rather than being annoyed that s/he has an attitude problem, we use a Coaching Style to work through it with them.”

Looking back at the success of its Leading for Results program, Cox Communications believes that its partnership with Blanchard has been instrumental in building the skills of leaders to coach and develop employees. The language of SLII is becoming a regular part of conversations as managers talk about development with their people, and Cox can see that they are well along the road to achieving their goal of creating an accountability-based culture through performance management and a consistent coaching model.

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