Dealing with Workplace Credit Grabbers

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Among the first things to consider: Who's grabbing the credit and how can you stop them - or at least mitigate any adverse impact to your career.

"It matters a great deal whether the person grabbing the credit is a boss or a co-worker, because it's much easier to deal with a co-worker on this issue than it is a boss," points out Marie G. McIntyre, an Atlanta-based organizational psychologist, author, consultant and owner of the firm Your Office Coach. "It's harder not only because they're your boss and they can determine whether you work for the company, but because workers are hired to make their bosses look good." However, she notes, "good bosses should always pass along credit to others."

Here are some tactics to help you gain both the recognition and credit you deserve.

Dealing With Co-Workers:

1. Control the Information Flow

Give your boss regular updates about your work and examples of how you're contributing to team results. Your actions won't be completely viewed as self-serving. Because bosses want to know what's going on, you'll be considered helpful when you pass along such informative tidbits. Also, request to review drafts of any correspondence or reports being produced with others, and be certain to add your name if it's been left off.

2. Play 'Keep Away'

If you know you're working with a credit hog, don't feed him any ideas or give him access to your work product. Protecting yourself, especially in dog-eat-dog corporate cultures, is a must-have workplace survival technique.

3. The Gentle Correction

So you're in a meeting, and your co-worker makes a presentation highlighting team results and leaves out your name. Find a way to comment and casually toss your name into the credit ring. For example: "You know Bob brings up a great point. When I was conducting project research, I also came to the same conclusion."

4. The Direct Approach

With credit grabbing co-workers, it might be necessary to ask for your fair share of the recognition in a private meeting. Citing examples will help focus the discussion on real situations, instead of emotion or perception. Says McIntyre: "Have your emotions under control during the meeting and simply ask to be recognized for your efforts."

For Dealing with Bosses:

1. Manage Up - Subtly

Find opportunities to get exposure to your boss' superiors. Volunteer for assignments or participate in a task force - anything to gain visibility and let the big wigs know about your contributions.

2. Ask to Tag Along

If you know your boss will be speaking about project results at a meeting, ask if you can attend or make a brief presentation highlighting your contributions. At the very least, ask that your name be included on reports or in presentations as a member of the contributing team.

3. Request Recognition

This might be the last approach you should consider: If more subtle attempts to gain recognition fail, ask your boss directly for credit. Don't say that he's hogging the glory, instead ask if he thinks you're contributing, then ask to be recognized. If you frame your request for recognition in a way that seems fair, it will be harder for your boss to refuse.

Although credit grabbers exist in any type of culture, in some environments the behavior seems to flourish. Before you begin laying out your strategy, it helps to understand why credit grabbing can become pervasive in a workplace.

"Have people been 'set up,' or even sanctioned to tear each other down, try to win at the other person's expense or otherwise act disrespectfully?" asks Daniel Robin, principal and founder of Daniel Robins and Associates, a workplace consulting firm in Santa Cruz, Calif. "Though this is often accepted as part of a 'tough' culture, it isn't as productive in the long run as structuring around all-win teamwork and collaboration."

Robin adds that a lack of workplace accountability causes people to grab credit from each other because the structure that identifies and tracks performance isn't working. In such cultures, Robin recommends establishing win-win partnerships and more boundaries around work agreements to help reign in credit grabbers.

"Create better job definitions and agreements so that proper credit is endemic to doing a good job," he says. "Everyone needs clear boundaries and a sense of ownership to do their job well."

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