January 13, 2017 at 03:03PM

I want out of a dysfunctional two-man firm, but don’t want to leave on bad terms

I work for a two-man consulting company – my boss is a friend from university and owns all the business. Over the past 12 months he seems to have lost all interest and has not been performing at all. He has had many problems in his personal life involving a bereavement, and hasn’t been interested in winning new business or seeing to it that our current client work is done properly.

I’ve always been paid an extremely low salary, way below market rate, on the understanding that future business success could make up for this. However, now I feel that I’ve been taken advantage of, with my boss taking our client fees at market rate and using my low wage to subsidise himself. I have no proof of this, however: we don’t have an office, so we work from home and I very rarely see my boss, and he doesn’t always answer my calls or reply to my texts. We’ll meet, allocate tasks, then they just won’t get done.

I’ve been offered a good, stable job at another company and have decided to go full time with them in March. However, until the end of February I have one client for whom I need to do a report, but I need the help of my boss – and try as I might to ask him, nothing gets done. I feel completely isolated, responsible for a project which I know will fail without help from someone who seems a million miles away.

Should I just leave and let him sort out the mess by himself, knowing that I’ll be fine as I’ll be starting with my other company soon? Or is there anything I can say to give my boss that burst of motivation that’s needed to at least get this project over the finishing line, after which we can wind up the company and go our separate ways?

I don’t want to let down a friend, but this is a nightmare, and by failing on this project I’d also be letting down a high-profile client who doesn’t deserve this treatment. I’ve considered informing the client about the problems, but it would be very embarrassing at this late stage. Any help would be appreciated.

Jeremy says

It says a lot for your good nature that you can still think of your boss as a friend and be concerned about letting him down. From what you tell me he’s hugely in your debt and you owe him nothing. I suspect you’ve been altogether too good natured for too long. I’m relieved you’ve been offered a good, proper job and have decided to take it.

In the meantime you’re left with the problem of your high-profile client, and here your concern is wholly justified. Given that the project will fail without input from your boss, and given his absolute absence of responsiveness to date, I can see no possible solution that doesn’t involve the client.

By that, however, I don’t just mean informing them about your problems and tacitly conceding that you’re unlikely to be able to complete the project satisfactorily. I think your best chance of jolting your boss back into action is through a personal intervention by the client, and that means taking them into your confidence. Tell them about your boss’s private problems, including the bereavement. Don’t be at all censorious, be very sympathetic and understanding. Say that you need your boss’s help to complete the task and that only a direct appeal from the client is likely to have the desired effect. Draft a letter to your boss, for the client to sign, that makes it crystal clear, though without overt threat, that the client regards your boss’s involvement as imperative.

It should work. But if it doesn’t your client is at least be aware that you’ve done everything you could to complete the project. If the result is unfavourable word-of-mouth about your boss and his business, you’ll know you gave him every chance to retrieve the situation.

Readers say

Level with your boss. I would frame it in terms of informing him you are moving on and agreeing a transition plan, including successful delivery of the project. I would steer clear of talking about his underperformance or the unfair allocation of salaries. These things are only worth mentioning if you want to fix them. If you have decided to move on, then do so as friends.

Don’t badmouth your boss or company to the client, but do let them know they’ll be working with your boss from now on as you have decided to move on to a great new opportunity. neeny

Somehow seeing the project through to the finish is in the best interest for you, your boss and the client. Tell your boss you’re leaving and set out a plan for completion of the project. Tell him all the reasons why it’s important to do it well: the high-profile client, both of your names are associated with it, the payment you’ll get from them. Maybe the company has run its course, but you can still go out with a bang. Jodie Houghton

1) My friends generally respond to my emails/texts/calls etc fairly quickly, so this chap is not really your friend, is he? 2) Give him your notice in writing with recommendations as to how to finish the project in time. 3) Inform the client that all communications should be with your boss after the end of February; say how good it was to work with them and hopefully your paths will cross in the future. 4) Think about how you will use the extra salary. DavidRennie

I’m an international student struggling to find a fashion internship. Any ideas?

I am an international student planning to study in the UK with a view to a career in fashion. As I understand my Tier 4 visa I am not allowed to work during the course, but can work full-time in holidays and seasonal breaks.

I’d like to know if there are any fashion summer internships I could apply for. I’ve seen a lot of LinkedIn profiles that proudly list two-month internships at Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Harrods and so on, but although I’ve been looking, these opportunities seem to be rare. How do I find them?

Jeremy says

Guardian readers may know of such opportunities but I’m afraid I don’t. However, I can suggest spending some time working on a presentation of yourself. It’s obvious what you would gain from a fashion-related internship – now give some creative thought as to what you could offer in return. If you can present yourself as an unusually attractive and inventive person, with flair and drive, you’ll greatly increase your chances of landing one of the few opportunities that do exist.

Readers say

A standard Tier 4 visa will allow you to work for 20 hours a week in term time and full-time during holidays. Do double check as you may have unusual restrictions on your visa! procrastcreate

Check Graduate Talent Pool, a government-funded internship site where all vacancies pay at least the national minimum wage. Fashion is under represented, but it may be worth looking.

I talk to a lot of students/graduates looking for internships and my first question is always “Have you been to your careers service?”. It is often the first port of call for local recruiters looking for students, and ultimately it’s their job to get you a job. It’s also worth trying Enternships, Step, or Inspiring Interns. edwardprichard

Getting a part-time job selling higher-end clothes could give you an advantage asking about internships. ajchm

Do you need advice on a work issue? For Jeremy’s and readers’ help, send a brief email to dear.jeremy@theguardian.com. Please note that he is unable to answer questions of a legal nature or to reply personally.

from Education | The Guardian http://ift.tt/2jaln0C