When a colleague takes credit for your work: dos and don’ts

You would not be human if you did not feel resentment, rage and disappointment at this kind of treatment

It happens to everyone at some point in their career – your boss or co-workers take credit for work you have done or your name is missed off the credit list yet you stayed late and worked from home to drive the project.

You would not be human if you did not feel resentment, rage and disappointment at this kind of treatment, whether it is due to an accidental oversight or to a deliberate sidelining; however, the way in which you handle this situation is key to ensuring it never happens again.


1. Confront, but not in anger

Process your feelings of anger first. Nobody is going to come out looking good after a public outburst. Later, when you have calmed down and perhaps talked to a trusted friend, confront the colleague responsible for the hijacking of your work.

Try not to make accusations, especially if you are not sure whether the act was deliberate; instead, ask questions that put the burden of proof on them. It is perfectly reasonable to ask why your name was not mentioned. The simple act of assertive confrontation may be enough to stop some people behaving like this a second time.

2. Protect your ideas

With the current emphasis on teamwork within the workplace, it is easy to stand on the sidelines and let yourself slip into the shadows; for example, your team leader or manager may be taking credit for all your work. If you can, circulate your ideas widely across groups. In a dynamic workplace, you should be free to discuss initiatives with colleagues from across the board.

Own your ideas from the start and seek out ways of following through with them. Get support from colleagues who may be able to help you to organise a project with roles that are clearly delineated, emphasising from the start who is responsible for what.

3. Model good behaviour

Make sure you set an excellent example of sharing the credit. Make it a given that you always thank and give honest appreciation and appraisal to colleagues for their contribution. Hopefully this will set the tone for the rest of the team and everybody will feel appreciated and recognised.


4. Give it all away

It might feel strange to promote yourself rather than emphasising the team; however, all too often, the team is heavily reliant upon one or two really strong players. If you feel that the team is leaning too heavily upon you, yet not crediting you enough, use every opportunity to draw attention to your contribution. If you are staying late and putting in extra hours, be sure to mention this every time the project is discussed; in addition, consider emailing colleagues in the wider organisation requesting input or evaluation of your ideas.

5. Brown-nose

It is all about balance; therefore, do not take strategy number four too far. If you constantly draw attention to yourself, you will appear to be brown-nosing and trying to elevate yourself above everybody else.

Only use the tips above in situations where you really are being overlooked. If you overuse them, it will appear that you are the one trying to monopolise all the credit!

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