Dealing with Serenity-Busting Employees

Melody Stevens, contributing author for The Happy Law Practice, and author of Become a Time Millionaire

Everyone is familiar with the horror story of hiring. You interview a candidate. The interview goes phenomenally. You hire them thinking they’ll be a perfect fit within your firm. Before you know it, the honeymoon is over and your star employee is beginning to wreak havoc within your practice, busting your serenity. In this interview, we will learn from Melody Stevens, a woman of many talents, about how to identify these types of serenity-busting employees during an interview.

The key to running a successful business while maintaining your happiness is surrounding yourself with a dream team. In order to find that dream team, however, you must interview candidates, weeding out the serenity-busters. Below are descriptions of Melody’s top three personality traits and types of serenity-busters and how they manifest in interviews.

The Owner Wannabe

The Owner Wannabe interviews very impressively, showing that they are very eager and driven, ready to get the job done. This individual, however, will subtlety evade your questions, talking in circles, but to the untrained ear, still gives a stately answer. The biggest red flag for this type of serenity-buster is that they can’t say “I don’t know.”  As a boss, your instinct is to take them under your wing and mentor them. After being hired, this serenity-buster will compliment you and tell you they want a business like yours. They are self-willed, have a very strong personality, and do not collaborate well with the rest of your team. You will start to see a change in them after you make a decision without consulting them. The Owner Wannabe will then become argumentative in a manipulative manner and jealous of your success. This is when you need to get them out as quickly as possible before their attitude begins to poison the workplace. Melody mentions that this type of serenity-buster is the most problematic and she suggests focusing on eliminating this personality type at the interview stage.

The Ever Innocent Flake

The Ever Innocent Flake shows up to the interview bubbly and enthusiastic, ready to take on anything. They don’t have any concerns, questions, or fears about the job; they’re just ready to get started. This is the red flag. This individual either doesn’t realize there is actual work to do or doesn’t have a grip on reality. After the honeymoon period ends, they will repeatedly call in sick or not show up but they ALWAYS have an excuse. Their excuses are constant and equally tragic making you feel like a horrible person if you were to confront them about the incident, whatever it may be. This serenity buster will fall behind in work, but it will never be their fault. In order to get rid of this employee, ask yourself what your needs are. If this individual is not meeting your needs, then they are not being productive in the workplace and need to go.

The Prima Donna

The Prima Donna will come into the interview with a stellar résumé. Not that you don’t want to hire someone with a stellar résumé, but just pay close attention to how they talk about themselves. A Prima Donna is self-centered and won’t relate to you very well as a person. They fail to see the impact their actions have on their clients, you, and your firm. For example, say the Prima Donna is on a personal phone call while with a client. The client comes to you about the issue and you confront your employee. This serenity buster will respond with “Well have they seen my résumé?”. Like this example, Prima Donnas will repeatedly use their credentials as an excuse for their lack of common work and courtesy practices. This is definitely not the kind of employee that plays nice with others and certainly the last person you want “shmoozing” clients in your practice.

For more from Melody, check out her website at Email her at or set up time to chat through her assistant at (732) 580-6098.  Also, make sure to read her book, Time Millionaire (available on Amazon).

Do you have any horror stories from hiring a serenity-busting employee? We can help! Through our coaching and training programs we can help coach your employees to improve performance or coach the leaders to take the necessary tough action. Email us at

Share with us your advice to avoid hiring these individuals on Facebook at or on twitter at @EsquireCoaching

To listen to the full interview, CLICK HERE.


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