Moving to the top Featured

7:00pm EDT January 29, 2008

Dan Movens will remove hurdles for his employees, but he is also willing to give them a lot of leeway to solve problems themselves. The CEO of Caraco Pharmaceutical Laboratories Ltd. empowers his employees to be experts in their areas and will let them go as far as he can, as long as it doesn’t hurt the business. But when he sees one of his 500 employees going in the wrong direction, he will step in to help solve the problem. And while he says some people would call him a micromanager first and a hands-off leader second, it’s a style that’s worked for Movens as he has led Caraco to revenue of about $117 million for fiscal 2007.

Smart Business spoke with Movens about how to set examples and expectations.

Be approachable to employees. It’s an open-door policy, and we are in it together. I mean, we are basically together to mentor each other because there might be something I might learn from someone else — there’s life experiences every day.

I basically wave them (in), literally. ‘Come on in, and let’s talk this through.’ My personal focus is, one, execution and taking down barriers and hurdles, and I think the expected outcome is that we are going to work together to solve this problem.

And also, having the employees that I work with [also] have an open door with me to walk in and give a view on how I think something could be different.

The company is made up of all levels of employee, and you try to remove the ‘we’ and ‘they.’ And the only way you can remove the ‘we’ and ‘they’ is to become part of the ‘they.’ So, you really have to be part of the organization. Check your ego at the door so to speak, and be part of what each person is trying to accomplish.

Basically, go out to the staff and have a town-hall meeting about what the company has done, what the company plans to do, how they’ve met their goals and expectations and trying to be part of how they think on a day-to-day basis so I can take the smallest issue and solve it.

By handling that, by being grounded, if I’m approachable, I’m going to find out the littlest thing that’s wrong with the company and I can move it forward. Get rid of the suit.

I grew up within the framework of being an employee first, and my biggest goal is, if I could have an impact on the business, if I could actually influence in a positive way the outcome of the business, that was my only goal.

Set expectations. We set goals. Of course, we have an annual budget process, and in that, you define projects you are going to get accomplished and sales objectives and market share objectives and how we are going to improve everything.

We have a meeting with the operating heads every two weeks, where we sit down and talk through issues that are stopping us from obtaining our goals and work through the problems on a routine basis. Tactically, handling your issues routinely is something that we do fairly well as a company, and basically, bringing all the department heads together so they can see how they impact one another.

I think that many people are trained to be compartment thinkers, and they really understand they are very good at their own department and, in fact, I would qualify them as an expert in their own department. But, I don’t know if they necessarily see how they impact each other and how their area services the company and the ultimate impact of their decisions on the other departments that help the company run.

So, I think that some of those hard lines, or silos, if you will, are taken down in those meetings, and I think that they see how they can actually influence the outcome.

Communicate your message to everyone to avoid confusion. You have a company such as ours that’s growing at 45 percent, currently. Last year, we weren’t the same company. You would-n’t manage the company in quite the same manner as you are managing it this year. Last year, you were a $117 million company. This year, you’re over $150 million. Two years ago, you were only $80 million. So, you definitely have to change and adjust and continue to manage the business much in the same framework, but it’s always changing.

Human nature is people aren’t used to change, so you have to get a little closer to the organization in order to always get that comfort zone back because you are always changing.

No one can ever believe you are going to have everybody on board. Unfortunately, I am a big believer that there is going to be a few naysayers in every group.

Every meeting might be thought of differently, or someone thinks the meeting is going a different way. So, you always have to reach back for clarity. If you continue to follow up on what you say and never let people down and, again, go back to those expectations, there are less and less of those naysayers because pretty soon, people are basically getting on the bus with you, rather than just believing that you’re just doomed to failure.

You continue to fight that with a progressive action.

HOW TO REACH: Caraco Pharmaceutical Laboratories Ltd., (800) 818-4555 or