Moving ahead Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2008

When Manouch Moshayedi founded STEC Inc. in 1989 with his brothers, Mike and Mark, they were ready to give up after six months because they were exhausted and not making much headway. But instead of giving up and going back to their old jobs, the trio pressed on and built a successful company that designs, manufactures and markets high-performance storage and memory solutions.

“If you think what you’re going to be doing is right and it’s going to work out, don’t give up in the first six months or a year just because you’re not making huge headway,” Moshayedi says.

Moshayedi and his brothers focused on setting achievable goals and creating an open atmosphere at STEC, which has grown to nearly 750 and posted fiscal 2007 revenue of $188.6 million.

Smart Business spoke with the company’s co-founder, chairman and CEO about why it’s important to hire people with common sense to help you reach your goals.

Set achievable goals. We’ve got longer goals that everybody knows and bought in to, where we want to be, what we want to do three years, five years down the road. The key to setting long-term goals is to have measurable results that can be broken down into shorter time frames.

For example, a long-term goal that may take five years to achieve needs to be broken down into smaller time segments, with measurable results at each increment — six months, one year, two years, etc.

The goals have to be achievable. If you set goals that are not achievable, people will become disenchanted and know they will never meet their bonuses and commissions, and you will get employees who are just there to collect salary and not be motivated. Set up goals that are realistic for people to meet.

Sit down with your management and figure out, these are the numbers you should be hitting. ... Set up goals that stretch people to almost their limits, but at the same time ... if they do stretch themselves, they will get there.

Having good goals means that everyone who works for you is happy, motivated and making a good amount of money. The company can move forward, and you can constantly increase those goals and achieve the growth.

Set goals together with employees. The people who are getting those goals, who are supposed to meet those goals ... those guys are always communicated with, and everybody has bought in to those goals.

It’s not like in a vacuum, we sit down and say, ‘This person has to hit 10 million bucks.’ If we have given that goal to that person, that person has already accepted that 10 million bucks and knows that he can achieve it — he has to stretch it to get there, but he knows he can achieve it.

If, however, it doesn’t happen, then we’ll have to examine to see what happened ... Whatever problems that they were, then try to discuss it and better it the next quarter.

Don’t hide behind walls. I know lots of CEOs who are just impossible to get a hold of. ... They’re constantly busy with one thing or another, they’re out of the office, in the office, whatever they’re doing, they’re busy. So [you need to have an] open-door policy and not have lots of walls to jump over and also constantly going out and talking to everyone and sitting down with them for five minutes and making sure that they feel comfortable talking back to you and telling you what they’re thinking about.

If leaders are more comfortable working with direct reports to start fostering open communication, it is a good place to start. Even small steps toward open communication can have positive results. Open communication will trickle throughout the organization through the managers and their teams.

Create an open atmosphere. You have to be easy with yourself and easy about talking to everyone and communicating with everyone. And at the same time, don’t take yourself that seriously that you think you’re above everyone else and no one can tell you anything and everyone else is wrong and you’re the only one who’s right just because you’re the CEO.

Keep in mind that management is as important to the success of the company as those in other positions are important. A team environment in which everyone is working toward a common goal is vital. Every team player has a significant role with equally important contributions.

You get the right feedback from people. You can be in an organization where everyone is a yes-man, and as a result, you make hugely bad decisions and everybody says, ‘Yes, yes.’ Having that open communication, having people dare to say, ‘No, that is wrong’ is the most important thing. Have people who are honest and not afraid (for) their jobs because they’re saying no to you.

Find people who have common sense. We find people who are motivated about what we do, somebody who is excited about coming and working with us, who has been successful in past jobs, who is reliable and has got integrity and is trustworthy.

Having common sense is amazingly important. Even though everyone thinks, ‘That’s common sense; that’s easy,’ you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t have common sense. If people don’t know their right hand from their left hand, then it’s going to be difficult to get communications going.

HOW TO REACH: STEC Inc., (949) 476-1180 or www.stec-inc.com