Picture this: You pitch an idea to your boss and they appreciate it saying they will definitely take it forward. A few weeks later, you get a whiff that they pitched your idea as their own to the executive board of the company. The latter loved it and are all gung-ho about their colleague who they now call an ‘out-of-the-box’ thinker. And, there you are sulking in the corner because the only thing you wish your boss had done is to give credit where it was due.
If you have been in a similar situation then you would agree that one doesn’t need to work under a micro-manager or a bully to know how unpleasant situations can get. Work under a manager who steals credit and you will experience similar, debilitating emotions. Should you find stuck working with one such credit-stealer, you can make use of the following strategies. Waste no breath or time to fan resentment.
Share your views/ideas in front of the team
You must have heard of the proverb: ‘once bitten, twice shy’. If your boss has made it a habit to claim your idea as their own, a simple way to not let it happen in the future is by sharing ideas in front of everyone. Also, start working closely with your team, take initiative to lead projects so that your colleagues are aware of your true potential as a torch-bearer. However, don’t try to alienate your boss in the process of proving your point or that it’s you who comes up with brilliantly engineered ideas you are never get congratulated for.
Appreciate your boss in a team meeting for the brilliant work - evidently yours - they’ve done. With every audience member’s eye glued on you, tell them how when it ‘first’ occurred to you it seemed like the only, best solution. This way others will be able to sense that it was you who was the mastermind. Your boss too will get a hint of how visibly upset you are provided they’d done it intentionally. Once the meeting is over, ask why they didn’t credit you. Phrases like “was it done intentionally?” or “I thought we were a team so this makes me wonder why you would not share the credit?” can be used to probe them to get an answer.
Cool down, and confront at the right time
As tempted as you might be to give them a piece of your mind, refrain from doing so. You don’t want to sit across them where you are at your weakest or in a frenzied state of mind. However, this is not to say that you shouldn’t talk it out at all. Gather yourself and while the incident is still fresh speak to them. As a matter of fact, if your boss is vindictive, confronting them is the worst you can do. Tread carefully.
Talk about credit sharing
When you sit with your boss and they agree to push forward your idea or ask you to work on it, make sure you raise your concern about sharing credits, especially when they didn’t do it a couple of times in the past. Say, “I can’t tell you how excited I am to work on this, but I also wanted to share that it was disappointing when [insert evidence] I wasn’t credited for having worked on it; maybe you had your reasons, but it was quite discouraging.” The point is to start and end positively. Steer the conversation in a way that neither of you gets attacking or defensive.
The conversation should be fruitful and shouldn’t sow seeds of hostility. Besides, make sure you’re not being pushy about getting credit for everything inconsequential. It only shows your hunger for fame at work.
Get them to see behind-the-scenes
When people see output, they don’t realise the amount of hard work that goes into it. Everything may seem a mintue’s handiwork and so hogging the limelight and saying that it was a product of your sweat is easy. Just so your boss know how you pulled the strings, get them to sit with you. Take their inputs, discuss strategies. When they are involved (though not at every stage), it will be easy to evoke their conscience and keep them from not applauding your involvement.
You will agree that some credit-stealers are habit-bound. And, for all we know, they might have had bosses who didn’t acknowledge their work and so they think it is their turn to get back; or they might be narcissistic or insecure because you have ideas that are worth hijacking. But, none of the reasons make their behaviour acceptable and ethical, especially at a leadership position. Speak up for yourself at an opportune moment. If your boss has an aggressive response, don’t hesitate to escalate it to the human resource department.