Rob Lynch | Crain's Austin

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Rob Lynch


Burst Consulting provides active mentoring and consulting services to companies through a structured model.

The Mistake:

Not appreciating the importance of the hiring process

When I was a first-time CEO, I was really focused on growth, revenue growth and profit growth. I was a big believer of making sure that we had a sales process in place. I would hire sales people and give them a quota, and suggest the best way for them to achieve their quota. I made sure the company had a process to follow in the sales cycle. In my experience, that is that what separated great sales people from the rest of the pack: that they follow a process and not take shortcuts. They typically would crush it at the end of a quarter or year, making their numbers.

However, I didn’t have the same appreciation for the hiring process, and what I quickly learned is that below-average players don’t always tell the truth in the interviewing process. What I also realized as a CEO is that the most important job that any leader has is to make sure they’ve got the right people in the right seats.

I read a book by Jim Collins where he discusses how nothing else matters – not strategy or execution – unless you have the right people on the bus. This goes beyond having the right people in the right roles. They have to be focused on the things that matter to the company and behave according to the company culture. The only way you’re going to achieve that is if you have a hiring process in place. I learned along the way this is what I needed to do, and eventually did.

My company was never going to achieve greatness if I didn’t have great people. 

The Lesson: 

When I didn’t have a hiring process in place, I would have to end up turning around to get rid of those employees. Not only did they not produce, but they pulled down morale. So I learned to elevate and put a hiring process in place. I realized that my company was never going to achieve greatness if I didn’t have great people.

I found that the best indicator of how a candidate is going to perform is their past job performance, and their past experience. By having a process in place, you can hire people who can produce what you need them to and embrace the culture. If you don’t, it’s highly likely that you’re going to have a lot of turnover.

It’s been said that a bad hire costs an employer 15 times their base salary in the loss of productivity you don’t get from that person, and because of the bad morale they've helped create. I’ve also read that if you don’t have a hiring process in place, you’re going to be unsuccessful about 75 percent of the time in hiring. Those are two brutal statistics. 

The best way to determine a candidate's past performance is to structure a thorough and comprehensive interview process which identifies the candidate's accomplishments and misses. Their past performance is evaluated against specific numerical outcomes you need them to achieve, and key competencies and behaviors they need to have in the position they are interviewing for.

I ran four companies – and they were successful companies. And after having run four of them, I then decided I wanted to teach CEOs and their executive teams how to grow and scale their companies. They are my clients now. In my role as an executive coach, I make sure early on in the conversation that they understand the importance of the hiring process. 

Follow Rob Lynch on Twitter at: @BurstConsulting.

Pictured: Rob Lynch. | Photo courtesy of Burst Consulting.

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