When A Coworker Takes Credit for Your Work

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when coworker takes credit for your work

Most of us have been in this situation. You are in a meeting, with all the important stakeholders in your company giving feedback on a project you were involved in. Then your coworker suddenly takes credit for your work.  

You are shocked! What did he just do? How could he? Now you are thinking to your self “I sure hope the CEO doesn’t think my role in this project was just making coffee and bringing snacks!”

If not checked, sabotage via credit theft by colleagues can ruin all hopes in your career. Your company’s higher management, to whom the perception of your contribution matters, have very few chances of meeting you. It is those achievements you make that draw their attention to you. Such attention could mean future considerations for promotion and recognition. Therefore, when someone else steals your credit, whether deliberately or inadvertently, It Is a Big Deal.

So what should you do when a coworker takes credit for your work?

when coworker takes credit for your work - stop it

Learn to blow your own trumpet (Without getting on people’s nerves of course)

The first thing you need to understand is the value of attaching your name to every achievement you make.

If you don’t take credit for what you do, it is likely that someone else will ~ Fawn Germer Click To Tweet

While most of us are conditioned to be modest about our achievements, it actually works against you in the workplace. If all you do is sit back and wait to be recognised, you will wait a long time. Plus most of the achievements you actually struggled to bring to light will be owned by other people. No achievement exists in a vacuum. It always has to have an owner, whether real or fake.

A good way to cultivate the culture of self-appreciation is immediately blowing your trumpet when you do something commendable. For instance, once you complete a certain project you were working on and have the results, you can quickly send an email to your team and other stakeholders. Something quick and succinct like, ”Hi everyone, I am glad to announce that I have completed the analysis of our CRM and below are the findings and recommendations. If anyone has questions or suggestions please feel free to reach out. Regards.”

At first, it might feel a little weird, but as you continue taking the initiative to make your achievements known the minute you accomplish them, it becomes a norm for you. This way, no one can say they did because everyone knows it was you. 

Speak Up and Set the Record Straight Immediately

when coworker takes credit for your work - speak up

What if a coworker takes credit for your work before you get an opportunity to put your name on it? You need to move swiftly and set the record straight in the same meeting/seating. Anyone leaving that discussion should know of your contribution to the project. Interrupt the speaker if you have to, but don’t let the moment pass.

You might argue that you are shy and taking such bold moves is not your forte. Well, everything can be learned, practised and perfected. You only need to maintain high levels of professionalism and keep your emotions in check. So once your coworker takes all the credit for work done, you might interject and say’ “Just to clear any misunderstanding, Matthew and I collaborated to come up with the findings. He mined the raw data while I worked on the analysis and collation of the results you see projected on the screen. Thank you.”. End it with a smile.

Even though you were graceful enough to say that it was a collaboration to save your coworker’s face,  ensure you have a real discussion in a private meeting.

Avoid any emotional outbursts in the meeting. People might put two and two together and respect you more when the real story breaks. Handle it like the professional you are.

Do a Follow Up Meeting with the Coworker

when coworker takes credit for your work

After the meeting (do not wait too long), approach the coworker who tried to steal your thunder and request for a short meeting. Remember to be very professional during this encounter. Start by asking your colleague to respect your work and contribution and that he should never try stealing your credit again, and that if he does you will escalate the issue after setting the record straight. If they have an explanation listen without interrupting and then let them know nothing warrants or justifies their behavior. Do not let them persuade you into backing down and agreeing to share the credit.

Escalate if There’s Repeat Behavior

So what if this coworker keeps trying to steal your credit at every opportunity they get? It is time to involve someone else with greater authority. Let your boss know that your colleague is constantly trying to take credit for your work and show evidence. Allow your boss handle the situation.

What if it is your boss who takes credit for your work?

If the person trying to pull the rug from under your feet is your boss, the dynamics change a little. But you can still make headway by having a heart-to-heart chat with them and also proclaiming your achievements as they come.

If you see no end to the issue, maybe it is time you got a new boss.

Either way,

No one should take credit for work you have done. Your work is your legacy and the springboard that launches your career to the next level. If you let that legacy go, you are helping someone else benefit at your expense.

Doreen Mueke
Doreen is the Senior Content Marketer at Ringier One Africa Media.