The time has come for your idea or project to be presented to the team. All of your hard work, energy, and effort can finally be acknowledged for getting positive results. Then, out of nowhere, your co-worker begins to position himself or herself as the person responsible for all of the success, and take credit for your work. You can start to feel a rush of frustration, anxiety, or anger. You might think, ‘What kind of person would do this?’ Many life science professionals have experienced some form of conflict in the workplace when it comes to others taking credit for their work.
Today, sharing achievements online via social media, videos, and blogs is commonplace. As a result, many professionals feel like they must overcompensate to show their value or worth, even if that means claiming others’ contributions. Some people can be extremely competitive in their quest to obtain promotions and raises, and they aren’t concerned with the colleagues they use in the process. We’ve reviewed what it really means when someone takes credit for your work in the past. Here is how to handle the culprit who’s claiming your efforts!
Politely speak up (if possible)
If you happen to be in a meeting or conversation where your co-worker is taking credit for your work, you might have the opportunity to address the issue at that time. Wait until the person has finished their statement and interject a valuable detail or piece of information on the subject. You want to bring up something vital to the idea or project, that shows you have inside information. After establishing your point, you can say something along the lines of, “Yes, ‘Culprit Name,’ like I mentioned to you in our original meeting…” This is a polite way to demonstrate that you led/were involved in the initial discussion.
Maintain your composure
Relaxing and keeping your composure is one of the most important things to do. It’s very easy to become emotional if someone is in essence, stealing your idea or taking credit for your efforts. However, an emotional scene caused by an argument is not in the best interest of your reputation or job. Most of your colleagues observing any interaction (between you and the culprit) won’t know the full story. Arguments and intense conflict at work make you a target for office gossip. Save any long, drawn-out discussions for private conversations for later.
Reflect on the project
Take a moment to contemplate if the other person could be making an honest mistake. Did you both come up with a plan or strategy together? Some people shift focus very quickly and forget what ideas are generated by other people. If that is the case, think about having a private conversation with your co-worker. It is ideal if this is done in-person so you can limit any miscommunication. During the conversation, be honest about the situation and let them know how you felt. On the other hand, do you know for sure that this co-worker is intentionally taking credit for your achievements? If that is the reality, you definitely want to take the next steps.
Mention it to your boss
If you’ve determined that someone is intentionally taking credit for your ideas and contributions, talking to your boss can be beneficial. When you have time for an in-person, one-on-one meeting with your manager, let them know what is going on. The key here is to present the entire idea/project from start to finish and highlight the positive results. Then, you can transition into how your co-worker took the credit. You might say, “Something I noticed in the team meeting was that ‘Culprit Name’ only mentioned their efforts. I wanted you to know all of the details/background behind how things happened.” The main point is not to seem like you are whining because no one patted you on the back.
Create a plan to protect your ideas
There is a school of thought that credit and acknowledgment don’t matter in the workplace. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your job security, livelihood, and opportunities for advancement depend on the value you bring to your organization. You’ve been hired to do a job and do it well. If you’ve been successful or presented an innovative idea that benefitted the company, you deserve acknowledgment. Moving forward, think about ways that you can protect your ideas. If a co-worker seems to have a pattern of dishonesty, you might want to limit all communication with them. Focus on presenting your ideas in an open forum like a team meeting, where there are many attendees who can remember what happened.
It can be awkward, uncomfortable, and upsetting to have a co-worker take credit for your work. If you are present when the situation is taking place, you might be able to politely interject and include yourself. Maintaining your composure and sense of calm is also vital. Spend some time truly reflecting on the series of events. Is your co-worker really a culprit in this situation? Or could they have acted unintentionally? If your boss is the person involved who stole your idea or claimed your work, you want to handle things a little differently. Assuming your manager was not involved, you can mention it to them in a private meeting. The main takeaway from an event like this is that you need to form a plan for protecting your work.
A Product Manager with expertise in pharma marketing and sales operations