Help! My Colleague Is Taking Credit for My Work

Dear OOO,

I work in digital advertising and marketing. Several months in the past a colleague, ‘Mary,’ and I labored collectively to develop a proposal for a month-to-month publication, which was accepted. I do all of the month-to-month work to supply it, and I’ve no concern with this.

But I not too long ago realized Mary has been exhibiting my work as her personal to senior managers, regardless of not being concerned for the reason that early planning levels. I believed the primary couple of situations might have been unintentional, till a colleague forwarded me a draft of “Mary’s newsletter” the place she’d eliminated proof of the sender (ME!) to assert it as her personal.

How ought to I proceed with my valor-stealing coworker? She’s extraordinarily pleasant to me in all interactions and has no concept I found her soiled secret.


A small however considerable tragedy of our remote-work age is the lack of petty office dramas that used so as to add intrigue to the sameness of the day. Remember gossiping about seeing that man from advertising and marketing and that girl from IT sneaking out collectively? Remember the tiny thrill of making an attempt to stifle laughter in a gathering as a result of your work spouse very clearly rolled their eyes? Remember office-wide freak-outs when somebody’s lunch went lacking from the communal fridge? At first blush, these might appear to be silly issues to overlook after we’ve suffered so many horrible losses—the lives of family and friends, the power to see or hug these closest to us, tens of millions of jobs—however for individuals who labored in an workplace pre-pandemic, that social material meant one thing that we haven’t totally grappled with prior to now 13 months.

So thanks, Anonymous. I don’t wish to trivialize your drawback, which might completely preserve me up at evening if it have been taking place to me, however I do know OOO readers nicely sufficient to know they are going to be gleeful to examine this juicy midscale injustice. Mary is formally the brand new enemy of this column, and I’m grateful for her. (Consider this a plea for extra questions on juicy small- and midscale injustices. Email me about all of your trifling work issues.)

Now then. The climax of this saga, the second when Mary deleted your title out of your electronic mail, modified my philosophy in your query totally, however we’ll get there. The unhappy reality is that refined valor stealing occurs on a regular basis within the office. Often it’s because an concept somebody has heard turns into related in one other assembly, and the somebody who heard the thought brings it up—and “forgets” to offer credit score. This conduct is pervasive, and typically it’s not even price coping with, if it means the expense of your personal sanity. (Of course, that doesn’t make it acceptable.) While we do love office capers, we aren’t trying to change into full-time workplace detectives or scolds.

That stated, these will be simple errors to make, and being hypervigilant about giving credit score the place due is essential to being a very good coworker. Remember the viral story about feminine Obama staffers’ technique of “amplification,” the place one lady would repeat a key level made by one other lady, emphasizing the originator of the thought? That was obligatory as a result of analysis reveals ladies are interrupted extra, given much less credit score, and penalized for talking up at work. So whereas I wouldn’t get too bent out of practice after a person occasion of not getting applicable credit score, I extremely suggest everybody interrogate their very own patterns on this enviornment, particularly males and white folks.

My colleague and good friend Scott Rosenfield has at all times been exceptionally deliberate and strategic about giving folks credit score, even on the threat of underselling his personal accomplishments, so I requested for his suggestions. “Everyone should be evaluated in the workplace based on how much they elevate those around them,” he informed me. (He recommends former Intel CEO Andrew S. Grove’s e book High Output Management for a bigger dialogue of this philosophy.) “In practice I think it’s basically a habit. Make sure to always ask yourself who else should get credit and would feel sad about not getting the credit they deserve. It’s helpful to have a work pal to run these things by who might point you to some of those blind spots at the start.”

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