There are plenty of situations at work that have you question office etiquette, but perhaps one of the trickiest is when a co-worker or manager takes credit for your work or idea.
Do you confront the co-worker, let it go or tell your boss about it?
It’s a situation that happens quite often in the workplace, Aimee Rieck, senior manager of human resources at Workopolis, says.
“Sadly, it’s very common,” she says. “I think everyone experiences this either from a colleague or manager at some point in their career, and it can be a very difficult to navigate those waters in terms of what to do.”
She adds, “I think it’s tricky because you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes and you also don’t want to come across as looking petty, but you also don’t want to let it go. It’s really hard to figure out how to get the credit that you earned and deserved without making yourself look unprofessional or being ‘that person who’s being petty.’”
Sometimes, the situation can just be a misunderstanding – a slip of the tongue, Rieck says, where the colleague doesn’t realize they’re saying “I” instead of “we” in a presentation you collaborated on, for example.
If this happens in your presence and you feel it may be an innocent slip-up, speak up, Rieck advises.
If this happens when you’re not around, or you feel uncomfortable speaking up in the moment, Rieck says to approach the other employee in a non-confrontational manner to clear the air.
Don’t be accusatory, instead, use this opportunity to gain some clarity and insight into why they said what they said and figure out if it was innocent or malicious in intent.
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“Let them know you noticed that they’ve taken credit for the idea, but that you worked on the idea together and that you’re just trying to understand why they didn’t include you in what they were saying,” Rieck says. “Let the other person know that you hope this doesn’t happen again, but if it does, you’re going to have to let your manager know because you want to feel like your contributions are being acknowledged and recognized as well.”
Other times, however, failure to give credit where credit is due may be intentional. If that’s the case, Rieck says to schedule a closed-door meeting with your boss.
When this happens, make sure to not be emotional in the meeting and stick to the facts. It’s also a good idea to keep detailed notes of incidences that have happened prior to the meeting, that way you’re able to have your thoughts in order.
Also, stay off social media – you don’t need to be airing out your thoughts and frustration online. Instead, keep this as an internal matter and only let the people who are involved know about it.
If the situation is not handled properly, it could cause tension in the workplace. That’s why it’s important to be professional when approaching the issue, Rieck says.