How to Deal With a Boss Who Takes All The Credit

You have worked hard for the last three months on an important project.

Long hours have been required and you have survived on a diet of coffee and cake.

You can see the home stretch and look forward to sharing the success with the team.

Secretly you also hope for some personal praise. You have led and shaped this from the start. It could be the first steps to the promotion you have targeted.

The big day arrives and your boss presents your findings to the business.

You and the team are hardly mentioned. Afterwards your boss is congratulated on the wonderful job he has done.

WHAT?

You leave the room, light headed, reeling from what has just taken place.

How dare they claim this victory as their own.

They had little to do with any of the work. It was a team effort and they have taken the personal glory.

You go home deflated and the anger sits with you, like an unwanted friend, in the weeks to come.

What’s the point, you think, if all your hard work is left unnoticed. You may as well do the smallest amount of work required, like a lot of your colleagues.

Good and Bad Results

You don’t like the behaviour of your Boss. Who would?

It feels counter intuitive but understanding the motive behind the behaviour can be useful.

Results are a good place to start to deal with a Boss who takes all the credit.

Bosses are responsible for the bad results. Does this mean they are entitled to take the credit for all the good results on their own?

Well, in a word, no.

The mistake Bosses make is forgetting that a high performing team makes them look good.

Your Boss can still take the credit but a great result by the team is an extention of them as a leader.

If the team does well, the Boss looks good.

It is sad that many Bosses forget this and drive deep divisions within the team by making poor decisions.

There are other reasons your Boss may take the credit and ignore your hard work:

Deak with a boss

They Feel Threatened

Your Boss’ job could be under threat. They are worrying about the star of the team gunning for their job.

This feeling of threat means they are motivated to steal the credit. They take the win as their own, ignoring the personal and/or the team.

I don’t agree with this approach but it does start to give an insight into their mindset and behaviour. If we understand behaviour it allows us to work on strategies to overcome it.

On The Ropes

Your Boss’ performance grading for the year may have been a poor one. Your Boss keeps making basic mistakes. The team are not engaged. Deadlines have been missed.

Like the feeling of threat they need something to hold on to. They want to prove to their Boss they are useful and they can deliver.

They need to fight back and jab their way through the next few months. To survive they will take your credit and engineer it as their own.

Inexperienced

Any new and inexperienced Boss will be hungry to impress.

They worry they will be found out as an imposter and need a win to keep them moving forward.

The inexperienced Boss does not realise how much they will need the team. They do not expect the  damage caused by not acknowledging great work.

There are many reasons why your Boss will attempt to take the credit.

When your own self-worth is smashed and you wonder whether your effort is worthwhile, it is time to take action.

Gaining Credits

At one point or another we have all felt similar emotions, as played out in the scenario above.

It may not have been our Boss, but you will know someone who soaked up the limelight when it was not theirs to have.

The fatal mistake most people make is reacting to their emotions. This often leads to calling out the person stealing the credit, in front of others.

If you make this choice expect some backlash from your Boss.

You can swerve the backlash by using specific techniques to discuss the credit theft.

The techniques allow you to deal with your Boss, take control and place it firmly back where it belongs – with you.

Assumptions

It is easy to hear a story about your Boss and take it as truth.

There is a danger in making assumptions and it is important to resist the temptation of buying into this.

Is it really true? Could it have been an honest mistake?

Talk to your Boss, ask them if what you have heard is true. Whatever you do, do not call them out in a group situation.

You are likely to embarrass them, yourself and develop a reputation of someone who makes poor decisions.

Deal with a boss

Clock Watching

You hear something. Some noise about your Boss. You hear they have taken the credit for something you created.

It can be difficult to raise an issue with your Boss. You want to raise the issue but keep looking at the time on your PC.

You leave it a few hours.

Hours turn into a day and days turn into a week. Before you know it you are justifying your Boss’ actions to yourself and decide to drop the issue.

Don’t sit and stew on the issue.

Have a frank and open discussion. Explain what you have heard and explain how you feel.

It is important to state your position clearly and without emotion. If the response is emotional your Boss is likely to respond to the emotion and not the issue.

Diarise

Sometimes having a chat with your Boss does not always work out.

They may not like the challenge, they may be driven by some of the fear outlined above or they may just not care.

A good leader will not show any of these traits but there are many bad leaders out there.

To protect yourself it is good to document what you are working on, the dates and your key successes.

You start to build up evidence and this could be important at a later date.

Share Success

If your Boss is not open and free with recognising success you have an opportunity to influence this.

Talk to your Boss about others in the team, what they have done well and urge your Boss to point this out to others.

Be the leader you want to see in others.

Show your Boss the value in acknowledging great work.

Deal with a boss

Work in PR

One way to protect yourself is to tell others how great you are.

Putting yourself out there and telling people what you are working on is valuable.

If your Boss attempts to take credit for your work it will be much harder for them to do this, if you create your own PR.

A Leap of Faith

Not all Bosses are made equal and the most important relationship you have at work is with your Boss.

People don’t leave bad companies they leave bad Bosses.

If it becomes too much you don’t have to stay in the job.

You do have a choice.

It can be different.

Many of will think ‘If I move then I could end up with another Boss who claims all the credit.’

This is what you have now and think about how you feel.

How much of a risk is it to actually make the leap?

Leaving a bad Boss behind might feel risky but it might just be the best decision you make.

Speak to a Mentor

Speaking to a mentor can be a great way of talking through ideas on how to approach your Boss.

A mentor is likely to be more experienced and they may have some insight into how your Boss is thinking and feeling.

They may suggest something you have not considered or rule out a particular course of action that may be deemed risky.

Deal with a boss

Speak Up

One tactic that works well, especially if you work in a project setting, is to ask your Boss to invite you into the conversation.

You may find it difficult to talk up at meetings, especially if your style does not lend itself to being talkative and direct.

One way to prove what you are working on is to ask your Boss to introduce you into the discussion.

An example you could suggest to your Boss is ‘So, Ian tell the group about your approach so far.’

This gives you the opportunity to show what you are responsible for, how you are dealing with challenges and the success you are creating.

HR – The Last Resort

Sometimes you can try all the techniques in the world and your Boss’ behaviour remains the same.

If your Boss is belligerent and a credit stealer the only course of action may be to involve HR.

This is a serious step and should only be used as a last resort.

Remember, most issues can be resolved by talking them through and without HR involvement.

If you are going to go down this route you will need evidence. HR will want specific examples from you and possibly others you work with.

The options for HR range from an informal chat through to more serious disciplinary action – depending on circumstance.

A Different Reality

You have worked hard for the last three months on an important project.

Long hours have been required and you have survived on a diet of coffee and cake.

You can see the home stretch and look forward to sharing the success with the team.

Secretly you also hope for some person praise. You have led and shaped this from the start. It could be the first steps to the promotion you have targeted.

The big day arrives and your boss presents your findings to the business.

Your Boss congratulates the team and singles you out for specific praise. They go on to say that without you the project would not have been a success.

Feels great, huh?

You don’t have to feel frustrated, you don’t have to feel demotivated and you can feel the self-worth that is important to you.

Stay strong, focus on the techniques above to deal with your boss and claim the credit you deserve.

Believe and take action.

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Ian Ruane

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