Steve Hackley
Comcast

For business leaders, one measure of success is how effectively they use available tools. Another measure is staff morale. On both counts, Steve Hackley has proven himself successful by any measure. Of course, don’t tell him that. “This honor really is more of a we thing, than a me thing,” he says, pushing the spotlight on the “hard-working employees of the Greater Boston Region.”

While many executives look solely at the bottom line, Comcast’s SVP for the Greater Boston Region knows employees are key to a company’s performance, particularly in highly competitive New England. “We have great products,” he says, “but at the end of the day, they’re delivered by people… [and] I want ours to feel energized… like individuals, not just part of a big machine… When they arrive at work each morning, I want them to feel psyched and say, ‘Hey, this is cool’.”

“Steve is equally as passionate about the customer experience as he is about the employee experience,” says Kevin Casey, Comcast’s NE Division President, who has worked with Hackley for more than 20 years. What makes him unique “is that he understands the business we are in, as well as the business of people,” he says. Adds Hackley: “I recognize our business is complicated and getting more so. I think I have to spend twice as much time communicating with employees as I did even just a few years ago.”

Customers are also happy. Just look at the marks his region receives on “Voice of the Customer” survey scores, where the area’s sales teams, service center and call center rank among the best in Comcast’s 20 regions. Indeed, Comcast EVP, COO Dave Watson calls Hackley “a remarkable leader at every level” and notes his and his team’s “keen focus on operations and customer care.” And CableFAX is just one among many honoring the way Hackley treats employees. His region has been recognized as one of the best places to work in Massachusetts by the Boston Business Journal every year since 2004. The Boston Globe has given Comcast’s regional operations similar kudos from 2008-2011.

Another indicator: Philadelphia’s trust in the Greater Boston Region, which often is chosen as the trial and launch area for Comcast’s newest products. “Our employees take that as a point of pride, we like being first,” Hackley says. Twice yearly Hackley leads a live, all-employee broadcast where he provides updates on the company and region. While such exercises can be moribund affairs in the hands of less charismatic leaders, Hackley makes it a point to inspire and invigorate employees during these broadcasts.

He also distributes short, YouTube-like videos roughly twice each month so he can keep employees updated. The live broadcasts and videos have been a best practice that several of his peers have adopted throughout the country. His monthly, hour-long leadership calls begin with 20 minutes dedicated to recognizing outstanding employees.

While Hackley respects the power of social media, he views it as a complement and not a substitute for pressing the flesh. This year, his goal is to travel to every major Comcast office under his purview and conduct Town Hall meetings to gather feedback from employees on the customer and employee experiences. He also relishes dropping in, “seeing employees in their natural state… without it being a scripted command performance. It’s got to be organic. I know employees appreciate this.”

Comcast customers in Hackley’s area should indeed be enjoying their cable experience more now that aptly named The World of More, a four-year undertaking, is complete. One of Hackley and his team’s major accomplishments this year, the initiative provides customers from Brunswick, ME, to Brewster, MA, with all-digital channels and additional HD programming. On average, 65 additional HD channels were added in each of the 315 towns in the Greater Boston footprint, bringing all towns to 100+ HD channels. The project also opened up significant bandwidth, which the region will use for product improvements such as Video On Demand. Hackley’s division was the first in the country to complete this massive project.

None of this is surprising given Hackley’s brand of leadership. As Casey puts it, “He truly understands the role of a leader. And he knows that to have loyal and engaged customers, you must have committed and engaged employees.” – Seth Arenstein

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