How Do I Deal With a Co-Worker Who Takes All the Credit?

Dear DFS,

I have a co-worker with whom I collaborate closely on projects at work. Lately, in staff meetings my co-worker has been taking all the credit for “our” ideas, which are often solely “my” ideas. How do I address this so I get the credit I deserve without throwing this person under the bus or embarrassing him/her in front of staff?

Aubrey, Regina

Dear Aubrey,

Firstly, I would like to compliment you for wanting to approach this issue in a respectful way.  Regardless of the issue, we always have a choice about how we address the problem and our reactions are a reflection of who we are as individuals.  Approaching this issue in a mature and positive way will reflect well on you in the workplace.

Here are a few suggestions on how you might approach this challenge:

Get Clarification

It’s easy to become defensive when we feel that someone has wronged us.  However, in order to deal with this situation in a positive and constructive way, the best approach is to first seek to understand your co-worker’s point-of-view.  They may not be aware that they are stepping on your toes and may not be doing this with any self-serving or negative intent.  Try and go into the conversation with an open mind.  Once you have clarified your co-worker’s understanding of the issue and you’ve expressed your side of the experience, it is time to discuss possible solutions to mitigate this happening again.

Discuss Possible Solutions

If your co-worker was not aware of having taken credit for your work, or if they disagree about who was originally responsible for the work, ask them how you might work together so that you can avoid a similar issue in the future.

If, after this discussion, your co-worker continues to take credit for your work, you may choose to have another conversation with them and give them another chance to become self-aware and take responsibility for their breach.  Or, if you feel this will not be helpful, you may wish to discuss the issue with your manager.

If your co-worker expresses a lack of interest in finding a solution, or you can’t come to an agreement to resolve the issue, it may be time to escalate the issue to your manager.

Prior to escalating the issue, let your co-worker know that due to the importance of the problem, you will be seeking guidance from your manager.

Escalate if Necessary

When meeting with your manager, bring material with you to the meeting to show the work you have done.  Describe the attempt you have made to resolve the situation on your own and why you feel it hasn’t been resolved.  Seek the guidance of your manager for next steps.

Prevention

Here are some things you can do to prevent a similar issue in the future:

• Be more vocal about your ideas and involvement in projects.

• Document your work so that you have a record of what you have accomplished.

• Take the initiative to communicate with your manager on a regular basis to update him/her on your work.

• Lead by example – promote a culture of recognition for individual achievements by publicly recognizing others where it is deserved.

Approaching a co-worker with an issue can be an uncomfortable or intimidating process; however, it allows us to shift away from the concerns we felt from the original problem to focusing on a positive resolution that will, hopefully, result in  fostering a more respectful and productive working relationship.

Good luck and best wishes,

Jennifer Halinda

Executive Director

Dress for Success Vancouver

Leave a Reply