It happens much more than we’d like – we do all the work and someone else, usually a boss or colleague with more seniority or the person who ends up making the presentation – gets all the credit. Here’s what to do when someone takes all the credit for your great idea.
When it’s a Supervisor
In seeking appropriate credit for your idea or work, you need to tread carefully. First of all, collaboration and teamwork are highly valued in business today, and someone who is intent on claiming credit may run the risk of not appearing to be a team player.
It is best to choose your battles wisely. Sometimes, for example, it is better for a supervisor to take over an idea in order to give it more exposure in the company and push it to company leadership. Focus on instances where your contribution was clearly pivotal to a project and important enough to possibly impact your career progression, where recognition is clearly warranted.
If your manager has been taking credit when he should not, it’s best to start documenting everything when working with him so that there is a record of your work and contribution.
After meeting with the supervisor, send a follow up email summarizing your conversation and make reference to your idea or work in the message by saying that you appreciate the opportunity to put your idea into action or, for example, take the lead on the project.
If you feel that a more direct approach is needed, here again, tact is called for. Making accusations is simply counterproductive. You need to show how giving credit benefits the team, your supervisor and the business. For example, one good business reason for giving credit is that it enhances morale, employee engagement and productivity.
But if you have a supervisor who is constantly touting your ideas as his own and refuses to give you credit for your work, the best course of action may be to look for another job. You need to ask yourself, is this really the kind of person you want to work for?
Good managers do the exact opposite because they know how important it is to employee morale. They are more than happy to offer praise and recognition to workers who have made important contributions.
When a Coworker Steals Your Rightful Thunder
You’re on a more or less level playing field here and so can assert your rights more actively. If you are working with a person who steals credit, again make sure to keep a record of who contributed what in a project. Don’t share ideas with the person when you are alone with him.
You also can set some conditions when working with him. For example, you can say you will only work on the project with him if you present it.
If the coworker steals credit constantly and deliberately, take the problem to your supervisor. Frame the issue as a teamwork problem — explain how his or her actions are affecting the working relationships among team members and needlessly causing friction.
How Important Receiving Credit When Credit – to You – is Due?
Again: maintain perspective and remember why you seek credit – to advance your career. But you may be working at a company where who gets credit isn’t an issue: whether you get credit or not has no impact on your career progression or promotion at the company. In a case like this, it may not even be worth worrying about.
Give Credit to Colleagues
If you expect to receive credit for your work, you should be willing to set an example and give credit to others when they deserve it. If you make a practice of recognizing others, they are less likely to harbor negative feelings toward you when you seek credit for yourself.
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