What to Do When Someone Takes Credit for Your Work

annoying cowoker

It’s happened to all of us at some point. We pull an all-nighter for a sales report, and a superior takes credit during the presentation; we share a brilliant plot to a coworker, and they later pitch it in a meeting; we accomplish a colleague’s work as a favor, but someone else takes the praise. 

Nothing is more frustrating than people taking credit for our work.

Sure, workplaces encourage members of their team to collaborate and assume a united front. 

But we all know that our value as employees still rely on our individual contributions. That’s why we strive hard to stand out from the pack. It’s also why we feel upset whenever someone rips off our hard work.

When this happens, some of us may feel vindictive and seek revenge. Others may not feel as strongly and decide to just move forward with their lives. Likewise, some colleagues would intentionally take credit for their personal gains. But other times, the incident would only be an oversight. 

Whatever the circumstance and however we feel about it, we need to approach it positively and professionally. We list down some ways to do exactly that.

Take a Professional Approach

Incidences of credit grabbing often result to a toxic work culture as it could discourage employees from speaking up or even working at their fullest. Handling the situation professionally means keeping our emotions in check while assessing the gravity of the occasion. 

Keep calm

Breathe in, breathe out, and count to 40. Before making a move, we need to make sure that we’re level-headed. Keeping our cool will help us assess the incident objectively and reach a rational decision based on those observations. 

Another thing that we can associate with this exercise is taking control of the situation. Instead of channeling that energy into frustration, pick up evidence instead.

Gauge the situation

Once we’ve calmed down, we should ask ourselves: is it worth it? Before doing anything, ask: would getting credit for this project impact my position in the office? More than that, we should also consider the context: if it was a one-for-all effort, it’s no use looking for credit. 

But if credit grabbing occurs on a regular basis in the workplace, then maybe it would be best to follow the next tip.

Talk to the Credit Grabber

Now when we say talk to them, there are many ways to go about this. We should be wary of the tone we use in relation to the person we’re about to talk to. 

The best approach is to ask questions rather than hurl accusations. Some may consider asking questions passive-aggressive, but it will eventually help the credit grabber realize that they did something wrong.

If It’s Your Boss

It’s common for a supervisor to take credit for the work of their subordinates. This becomes even more apparent when the boss is in front of higher ups. 

While built on teamwork, the workplace is still designed to be a competition. When too many people want to climb up the corporate ladder, expect various cases of credit-grabbing scenario.

The best way to approach our credit grabbing managers is through a heart to heart. We can start off by discussing various projects with them before delving into the incident. 

Once we’ve finally gotten around to it, the best thing to do is to narrate to the scenario from our perspective and explain how it made us feel as a member of the team. Of course, it should still be light and positive. That means discussing future projects where a collaboration may merit.

Now when a boss constantly takes credit for someone else’s work, we should strive to be smarter next time. It’s important to document our work and leave a paper trail of ideas and where they began. 

But that’s not to say that we can’t give them credit for their work. Acknowledging their accomplishments and involvement in projects during a meeting would help them recognize their own value to the team.

If It’s Your Colleague

Most of the time, credit grabbing comes from a place of insecurity. If someone doesn’t feel like they can create a positive impact in the work ecosystem, then the next resort is to steal an idea to accomplish that goal. This is usually the mindset of colleagues who start taking credit. 

Even worse: they do it because they think they can get away with it. 

It’s easier to set the record straight with colleagues since we’re on the same playing field. We can assert ourselves a little bit more. 

For example, it would be better to ask them outright why they left your name out of the presentation. Again, it’s important to keep it polite and non-accusatory. If it recurs, then better escalate the issue.

The first thing to avoid when it comes to credit grabbing colleagues is sharing ideas in private. Leave a documentation, such as a recap email where we can highlight our ideas. 

We can also impose some ground rules. For example, we can say that we wish to present the project. Or, we can send an email to coworkers, saying that we wish they enjoyed the presentation. 

Next time

So, our idea was ripped off. But at least we learned something new. Now how do we keep our ideas from getting ripped off? And how do we make sure that our name gets into the credits next time? Here’s how you do it.

Be heard

Some of us may have the itch to talk about our ideas to a select few before presenting them in front of a crowd. This is fine, but this also entails picking out the ones we trust the most. 

Now, if the place of work is swarming with credit grabbers, then it’s better to keep the idea to ourselves instead. Release all of it during the presentation so everyone will acknowledge firsthand that the idea came from us. 

Collaborate

Draw attention to ourselves as an innovator. That is, document all our ideas in memos or emails, and invite others to collaborate. 

Once our colleagues are on board, make sure to check on their progress, and thank them for their effort. This would also be an opportunity as well to give due credit to our colleagues.

Outdo yourself

Outperforming means studying the material and making an initiative for the future. Cover all the bases of the report so that we would be ready to give a comprehensive response when someone asks. 

A way to practice this is by asking ourselves questions that the audience would most likely ask. After a presentation or a pitch, encourage everyone to ask questions. This way, we’ll be able to prove just how much we know about the project.

Let it go

It’s important to receive credit for the work that we do. 

However, we also need to understand that we won’t get one for every work we do. That’s fine, though. It’s all part of being a team player. If we’re constantly seeking acknowledgement from our peers, then we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. 

The best way to practice letting go is by focusing on the bigger picture, which is the project.