Manager Steals Credit for My Work

Question:

My manager regularly takes credit for my work, passing it off as his. This has gone on for a year. He gets kudos for the amount and quality of work he produces.

How do I call him on it? How do I make sure upper management knows what I bring to the table?

Answer:

While part of your employee role is to make your manager and department look good, that doesn’t include your manager passing off your work products as his. Strong managers give credit to their team.

When you work for a credit-thief, you have 3 options:

Option 1

Talk to your manager. Ask him to clarify when you’ll be given credit for your any of your work products. Your question might irritate him, as he’s benefiting from taking credit; however, it will put him on notice that you don’t intend his free ride to last forever.

Option 2

Depending on your relationship with the manager above your manager, you can help your manager’s manager learn who produces work products in one of two ways. Both work best if you first develop a relationship with the manager above your manager.

The most common strategy is emailing information about your products to your manager while cc:ing or bcc:ing in the manager above. While this can work if you do it subtly, it can also irritate your manager and potentially annoy the manager above him.

Alternatively, you might ask the manager above your manager for a confidential coaching meeting. In the meeting, ask how you can make your talents and what you bring to the table known. Likely this manager will ask you to elaborate. If so, you might say, “if I came up with an innovative idea or a tightly-constructed analysis,” how do I let individuals other than my supervisor learn I created it? A question such as this allows your manager’s manager to connect the dots.

Note: Either of these two option #2 strategies may become a one-time event as you’re going above your manager’s head. If he’s well-connected and ruthless, he might fire you.

Option 3

Create visibility for the quality and type of thinking you bring to the table. Connect with as many senior managers from your company as possible on LinkedIn. Then, although company-specific work products are proprietary and confidential, you can post great ideas that aren’t specific to your employer. In this social media era, you can quickly become known for the quality of your thoughts.  

If none of these work, and you want credit for what you produce, you may need to find a new job or at least a new manager.

(c) 2022 Lynne Curry

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4 thoughts on “Manager Steals Credit for My Work

  1. These are great strategies for potentially getting known for the quality of your thought and for your innovations and creations at work. As noted, there also are potential downsides to them, including getting fired. This is an example of one of the many ways life at work can really suck. It would be a great fantasy to keep your head down, do your work, and then find or take advantage of an occasion when either your credit-taking boss isn’t on the team and you get to show what you can do, or you aren’t there and your credit-taking boss is at a total loss and _maybe_ people realize he isn’t as great as they thought, that probably somebody else on the team comes up with the ideas. People are unpredictable and often take the easy way out–this should be what you also remember. I’m in a down mood today, not quite rising to the opportunities presented here.

  2. Susan response reminds me of a rather large project I worked on. There was an incompetent carpenter who was incapable of doing even the most basic task. He was old enough to be a journeyman, so at first, he blended in. Then, gradually, the carpenters figured him out and shied away from him. If he completely botched a task, he would ask a carpenter to help him straighten it out. He would then say he had to go to the restroom and instead would point out to the superintendent the “mistake” the other carpenter had made and say, “I’ll go over and help straighten it out”. Before long, truth prevailed (as Susan stated) resulted in him getting a pink slip.

    Years later, I ran into him at a Carrs grocery. I thought he would be unfriendly, as I was a labor foreman on the job and as such was interviewed in front of him as to the veracity of the carpenter foreman’s statements. On the contrary, he was so excited to tell me about what he had been doing since I last saw him, that he greeted me like a long-lost friend. He was looking forward to retiring from his job working for the government installing and replacing door locks. Water does seek its own level….

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