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Overview

A colleague of mine requires a work visa to work in the U.S. My colleague and I work for this nonprofit organization currently. We first worked at this nonprofit as interns 3 years back but I managed to find a different job while my colleague is now working as an employee for this nonprofit because they are the only one who are able to offer him a work visa currently.

The nonprofit has a project they have hugely invested time and money for 3 years on. My colleague and I are the birth creators of this project and worked together back then. The project is at the development phase (which is where the organization's budget is all being spent on) but has run into major progress and management problems, where the chance of failure is now high.

My colleague is the current main lead for the project. I am currently playing an adviser role for this project and have no contract obligation to them, meaning I can leave at any time (the project is a small learning benefit to my career but it's not my day job and I don't care about the nonprofit).

The problem

The nonprofit has become a significantly toxic place to work in and my colleague is feeling extremely frustrated at all demands and overwork the CEO is giving him. The reason for this is that he is the only true paid employee left; every other paid employee has quit and there are just temporary volunteer (part-time, inexperienced, unpaid) staff remaining. As such, in addition to leading this big project, he also has to do all other tasks that the other previous paid employees did. This led to the project management problems.

He wants to quit but he can't because of his work visa. He is currently looking for another job and has no success so far.

He and I are the only people who are still at this organization with the highest depth of knowledge of the project. In other words, if he and I leave, the nonprofit will crumble as no one else will have the knowledge to be able to take over and all the budget invested on the project will be wasted. It's not an over-exaggeration if I said we are quite legitimately the organization's lifeline.

As such, we would have the upper hand advantage but my colleague's work visa means he is stuck there if he doesn't have another job lined up.

Question

What can I do to best assist him right now in this situation? Also, if my colleague caves and quits, I will also quit and let the entire organization crumble - is there any way I can take advantage of this?

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You've been there 3 years so must know the people on the next level.

Have a quiet word with them about the toxicity. Don't mention your colleague unless he wants you to but it's at least a step towards defining problems. It also implies that you at least are not happy, which further implies you could be leaving if something isn't done. Then you can move forwards from the response.

If it's positive, watch to see if they follow through, if not, no loss, you tried, and can rethink your strategies.

When you don't care, you have nothing to lose by doing this and a lot to gain.

I have done this a few times, and it doesn't always work out, sometimes toxic environments just remain toxic, but since I didn't care and held the trumps it was really their loss.

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  • I am only an adviser, not an employee. I only do work for the nonprofit a couple of hours per week and only work directly with my colleague and CEO specifically just related to the project itself. I know nothing about the internal parts of the organization or the volunteers there now. I only know that my colleague is the only remaining employee there now because he told me. Aug 6 '20 at 8:55
  • 4
    then you have no business doing anything on incomplete secondhand and biased information.
    – Kilisi
    Aug 6 '20 at 9:13
  • Fair. Though since as an adviser I'm still actually officially at one of the highest levels of the organization's ladder (my colleague and I are on the same level; the next level above us is the CEO) so whether the claim is true or not is irrelevant (it's also easily verifiable if I just look at the management tools). CEO likes and trusts my abilities a lot which is why I'm even an adviser in the first place and why I am placed that high up. That's why it will be devastating for certain if both my colleague and I leave. Aug 6 '20 at 11:15
  • I'm a consultant at highest level for some clients, I will speak my mind if I'm personally aware of an issue with a needed employee, I won't do it on hearsay or a rant. It's unprofessional. If I cared enough I'd make the effort to find out what is going on. I don't get into potential conflicts or overstep my role without thinking it through and being sure I'm both in the right and will make a positive outcome happen. I don't see that here,
    – Kilisi
    Aug 6 '20 at 14:51
  • worst case scenario your mate is unemployed on his way home, you lose a client and the business crashes... is that outweighed by the best case scenario of some mitigation of your friends situation while he job searches... no.... he can just handle it and job search like every other adult with an issue to solve. If you want to be a shoulder to cry/rant on, thats fine.... and may help. Further, you may not care about your client and don't mind losing it, but it could affect your rep to your other clients or bite you in the future.
    – Kilisi
    Aug 6 '20 at 14:51

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