In the last few days I have been reading thousands of tweets about a politician and his party stealing the credit for work done by someone else. The news is the establishment of a 10,000 bed exclusive Covid19 treatment facility in Delhi, the World’s largest facility. The Delhi CM and his party are known credit stealers! Taking credit for what they have not done. In general, many politicians do this regularly. Steal credit and make tall claims.
It got me thinking about the credit stealers outside the world of politics, because this happens everywhere. The corporate world and the film world are two other areas notorious for this practise. Your colleague, boss or the boss’s boss can always steal credit for the work you do. It’s not only about taking credit for your work, it can also be about stealing your ideas. You may not even know that the brilliant idea you had presented to your boss or colleague was stolen and presented to the influencers and decision makers as their idea. Even before you realise what’s happening, someone has already walked away with the awards and rewards. I am lucky not to have escaped with just a couple of such incidents in my career.
Why do people do this? What happens to the company?
People steal others ideas and also take credit for others work for a number of reasons. Winning in the rat race, getting an early promotion, being the centre of attraction and most importantly insecurity about their own abilities are some of the reasons why people become credit stealers. Organisational culture, does play a huge role in this. If there are even a couple of leaders who routinely do this, it leads to a toxic environment at work. Lower engagement and higher attrition are some of the consequences. In today’s digital world, we have platforms such as Glass Door where the ex-employees of an organisation share their feedback about the work environment. So a toxic environment doesn’t remain a secret and stops good employees from joining.
How do we handle this situation?
Some people are afflicted with this disease so its a little difficult to change them. What you can do, is take some safeguards.
- Share your ideas on email with a few other colleagues/people marked on it.
- Followup a 1:1 meeting with a credit stealer with an email
- If you feel your idea is very unique, get it registered, patented.
- At work if its your boss who is the credit stealer, you may want to consider changing jobs.
- In politics, one has to over communicate and be the first to put the news out !!
Do read detailed post on the subject from HBR Ascend, which includes two case studies –https://hbrascend.org/topics/how-to-respond-when-someone-takes-credit-for-your-work/