The Credit Stealing Coworker


Your coworker goes to the boss and tells you about a wonderful idea that he (she) has had. It sounds hauntingly familiar. In fact, it’s the exact same idea you shared with your coworker just the day before. Huh. Or maybe your team has worked long and hard on a successful project, but you later hear your coworker talking about how it was pretty much all his doing. Huh again. What do you do?

For starters, it’s important to understand that this coworker probably doesn’t just do this to you. He does it to everyone. So the good news is that, if he’s been around the organization long enough, the people he’s bragging to are likely already taking his stories with a large grain of salt. Nevertheless, it can still be annoying when somebody else is taking credit for all your hard work.

There are a couple of different things you can do, depending on your relationship with this coworker and your own personality.

1. Take a lighthearted approach with a few well-placed digs. So, if you happen to be around when he’s sharing his exploits with people, say something like, “Wow , you did that all by yourself? I could’ve sworn the rest of the team was there too!” Or if it happens when you’re not around, when you do get the chance to see him, just make an off-hand remark like “I understand you shared a great idea with the boss, it sure sounded familiar…”

2. Take a more direct approach, with a blunt questions like “Did you really tell the boss that idea we came up with was all yours?”

Regardless of which approach you take, it’s kind of fun watching him try to dance his way out of it. Once you’ve confronted him, you really don’t need to pursue it any farther. Your calling him out sends a message loud and clear that you know what’s going on, and that he should tread a little more carefully with the truth.

If he’s a chronic credit stealer, you can try a little preventative maintenance. When you have that great idea, or the team has a great success, just say to him “Now don’t be running off and telling everyone that this was all your idea!” If you say it with a lighthearted tone he’ll just laugh – but you’ll get your message across.

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