Keeping Credit Where Credit is Due

You’re doing all the work and someone else is taking all the credit.
It’s not only unfair, but it could impact your career. Handling the
situation requires tact, diplomacy and a plan.

By Leslie Stevens-Huffman | December 2007


Among the first things to consider: Who’s grabbing the credit and
how can you stop them – or at least mitigate any adverse impact.

"It
matters a great deal whether the person grabbing the credit is a boss
or a co-worker, because it’s much easier to deal with a co-worker on
this issue than it is a boss," points out Marie G. McIntyre, an
Atlanta-based organizational psychologist, author, consultant and owner
of the firm Your Office Coach. "It’s harder not only because they’re
your boss and they can determine whether you work for the company, but
because workers are hired to make their bosses look good." However, she
notes, "good bosses should always pass along credit to others."

Here are some tactics to help you gain both the recognition and credit you deserve.

Dealing With Co-Workers

1. Control the Information Flow

Give
your boss regular updates about your work and examples of how you’re
contributing to team results. Your actions won’t be completely viewed
as self-serving. Because bosses want to know what’s going on, you’ll be
considered helpful when you pass along informative tidbits. Also,
request to review drafts of any correspondence or reports being
produced with others, and be certain to add your name if it’s been left
off.

2. Play ‘Keep Away’

If
you know you’re working with a credit hog, don’t feed him any ideas or
give him access to your work product. Protecting yourself, especially
in dog-eat-dog corporate cultures, is a must-have workplace survival
technique.

3. The Gentle Correction

So
you’re in a meeting, and your co-worker makes a presentation
highlighting team results and leaves out your name. Find a way to
comment and casually toss your name into the credit ring. For example:
"You know Bob brings up a great point. When I was conducting project
research, I also came to the same conclusion."

4. The Direct Approach

With
credit grabbing co-workers, you may have to ask for your fair share of
recognition in a private meeting. Citing examples will help focus the
discussion on real situations, instead of emotion or perception. Says
McIntyre: "Have your emotions under control during the meeting and
simply ask to be recognized for your efforts."

Dealing with Bosses  

1. Manage Up – Subtly

Find
opportunities to get exposure to your boss’ superiors. Volunteer for
assignments or participate in a task force – anything to gain
visibility and let the bigwigs know about your contributions.

2. Ask to Tag Along

If
you know your boss will be speaking about project results at a meeting,
ask if you can attend or make a brief presentation highlighting your
contributions. At the very least, ask that your name be included on
reports or in presentations as a member of the contributing team.
 
3. Request Recognition

This
might be the last approach you should consider: If more subtle attempts
to gain recognition fail, ask your boss directly for credit. Don’t say
that he’s hogging the glory, instead ask if he thinks you’re
contributing, then ask to be recognized. If you frame your request for
recognition in a way that seems fair, it will be harder for your boss
to refuse.

"IT professionals in particular have to learn
the art of self-promotion and make certain that they don’t stay locked
in their cubicles," says McIntyre. "The more visibility you have and
the more you let people know about your contributions, the harder it
will be for anyone to grab credit from you."

Although
credit grabbers can exist in any type of culture, there are some
environments where their behavior seems to flourish. Before laying out
your strategy, it helps to understand why these folks can sometimes
become pervasive in a workplace.

"Have people been ‘set up’
or even sanctioned to tear each other down, to try to win at the other
person’s expense, or otherwise act disrespectfully?" asks Daniel Robin,
principal and founder of Daniel Robin and Associates, a workplace
consulting firm in Santa Cruz, Calif. "Though this is often accepted as
part of a ‘tough’ culture, it isn’t as productive in the long run as
structuring around all-win teamwork and collaboration."

Robin
adds that a lack of workplace accountability will cause people to grab
credit from each other because the structure that identifies and tracks
performance isn’t working. In these types of cultures, Robin recommends
establishing win-win partnerships and more boundaries around work
agreements to help reign in credit grabbers.

"Create better
job definitions and agreements so that proper credit is endemic to
doing a good job," says Robin. "Everyone needs clear boundaries and a
sense of ownership to do their job well.

Leslie
Stevens-Huffman is a freelance writer based in Irvine, Calif. who has
more than 20 years experience in the staffing industry.

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