Sam from Boston writes,

“I have an employee I’m having serious issues with. The quality of his work is sub-standard, and I can’t seem to be able to motivate him. If it was anybody else, I’d fire him. The problem is that he knows two of the VPs in the company, and even golf’s with them occasionally. What should I do?”

The Connected Employee – a middle manager’s nightmare. This situation is awkward, to be sure, but the solution is really quite straight forward. As a manager, you have a responsibility to your company and your team. If any employee jeopardizes either one of those things, it’s your responsibility to take action. Here are the four things you have to do:

1. Document, document, document. This is important at any time, but when the employee is connected, it becomes even more critical.

2. Before you take action with your employee, talk it through with your boss and tell him what you are thinking. Hopefully, if your boss is good, he (she) will be there to support you or guide you.

3. If you have an H.R. department, run it by them to vet any possible legal or other employment issues.

4. Once you’ve decided what the right course is, take action right away – don’t hesitate.

One thing to remember is that senior managers, like you, also have to be accountable for the organization’s performance. Most cringe at the thought that an acquaintance, no matter how close, is somehow compromising that performance. While the possibility certainly exists that one of your employee’s high-level connections might ultimately overrule you, it is equally possible that the person will be quietly grateful that you made the tough decision before he had to.

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