How to Deal with Coworkers Who Take Credit For Your Work
Learn what to do if one of your coworkers is hogging the credit for your work.
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Today’s topic is dealing with co-workers who take the credit for your work. The quick and dirty tip is to marry them in a community property state, and then divorce them after they’ve done all the hard work of turning your ideas into a billion-dollar empire. You get half.
Listener Jon writes in:
How do you deal with a coworker who likes to hog credit and delegate blame? He says, "That project is late? You never sent me the file I needed." Note: Simone sent the file a week ago. Or, "He liked my idea? GREAT!" Note: not his idea. How would you silence the, "My win, your loss" type personality?
The bottom line is it sounds like Sleaze Boy (or “S.B.” for short) needs a developmental talking-to by his boss. If that isn’t in the cards, you’ll need to put some effort into dealing with SB yourself. In most states, it’s illegal to gag someone against their will.
What you do depends on your goal. If your goal is Zen-like spiritual enlightenment, then you meditate for 40 years until you are so at peace with the flow of life that nothing he says or does can disturb you at all. Since you wrote me, and not the Dalai Lama, that’s probably not your goal.
Don’t Put Sleaze Boy In His Place
If your goal is to put Sleaze Boy in his place, don’t. I know you want to. Reading your letter, I want to. But that’s emotionally immature. It won’t fix the problem; it will just make him mad. Limit your goal to making sure credit is given where credit is due.
Don’t contradict him! At best, you’ll embarrass him and he’ll work behind your back to bring you down. At worst, he’ll turn out to be an amoral psychopathic monster who will work behind your back to bring you down with a chainsaw. That would be bad.
Instead, use the comedy improv technique called “Yes, and…” His remarks are offering you a new reality. Join him. “You never sent the file I needed,” he says. Ok, pretend he’s right. And be the absolute soul of contrition while you clearly define roles and responsibilities so he gets to take full responsibility for his—and only his—contribution.