A Bad Hire Can Devastate A Startup

Sam just needed to hire someone, he told himself. He was feeling overwhelmed. The business was picking up speed faster than he could handle it. He yearned for more simplicity and at the same time, courted complexity.

An operations leader that could run the day-to-day of his growing startup would mean freedom. Freedom to focus his energies on the things only the CEO could do. Managing the investors. Interacting with customers. Thinking. Planning. And, getting his team focused.

The problem was that Sam was somewhat haphazard with the way he went about looking for an operations person. He sent an email to his network. He called a few friends. And, magically two candidates appeared.

He quickly scheduled coffee meetings with them and found himself doing more selling rather than interviewing.

Brad seemed perfect. He didn’t have the exact experience Sam was looking for, but his excitement and enthusiasm more than made up for that…he thought.

Although it was hard to compare the two candidates because Sam didn’t really ask the same questions, he offered Brad the job.

Brad started the next day.

Everything seemed great until a week later Brad seemed overwhelmed and needed a lot of Sam’s time and attention.

“No one is listening to me, “ Brad complained.

Suddenly a line of team members formed a regular queue outside Sam’s door.

It was unanimous, Brad just didn’t know how to lead, let alone manage.

Months later Sam realized he made a terrible mistake and finally fired Brad. It was a mistake that had about a 6 month impact on the morale and trust of Sam’s team. And, that poor decision would reverberate many months later.

Although I made this particular story up, it is an amalgamation of the stories I have heard time and again.

It’s the same story that Adam Robinson warned against in a recent interview I had with him on the podcast.

He shared a few key hiring concepts that you may want to pay attention to:

  • Hiring is sales.
  • Hiring is a process.
  • Hiring takes time and patience.
  • Hiring requires understanding the role.
  • You should ask each candidate the same questions.
  • A bad hire can have a devastating effect on a small and growing company.

Listen to the full interview here and you’ll see what I mean. Adam’s insights are invaluable.

And, grab a copy of his book, “The Best Team Wins.”

What hiring mistakes have you made?

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