Isn’t it lovely when accolades come our way? It’s so rewarding when our work is publicly acknowledged and praised.
But what happens when you don’t deserve all the applause? When that “I” you used is really a “we?”
Five of us had worked for almost a year on a project to improve morale, increase performance, and reduce turnover in one of our company’s locations. This assignment had been layered on top of already full task lists; however the work was a labor of love for many of the project team members. We were drawn by the lure of having the freedom to create whatever was needed to achieve our goals.
Several months into the project, improvements in metrics started trickling in, then surged. Employees were smiling again. Recruiters were less frenzied. The project team was – as they say in corporate America – “cautiously optimistic” that our mix of solutions had generated the right alchemy for a turnaround.
Then came the company leadership meeting. The day when “I” slammed into “we.”
In his opening remarks, the president showered rave reviews on a woman from the project team, highlighting all her great efforts in turning around a troubled facility. He read the email she had sent to him. The email was full of “I” phrases: I discovered, I researched, I thought, I did, I, I, I. There was no mention of her other four team members. She beamed; the rest of us were crushed.
Could this be you? Have you tooted your horn yet forgotten the orchestra that accompanied you?
4 rules for taking credit
Take solo credit under these circumstances:
1) You single-handedly completed all the work to successful results with zero assistance from anyone else.
2) The good work you did was all your idea.
3) You executed your idea, and the outcome crashed and burned…big time.
4) You’re a boss, your team executed an assignment at your bidding, and the end result was awful.
How the goblins will get you if you steal credit
1) Now there’s a mere four-and-a-half degrees of separation between us in an ever-connected world. You just never know when a new boss was one of those poor slobs whose work you stole.
2) Be prepared to always work alone. No one wants to partner up with or help a glory-grabber because there’s no point in signing on to be invisible.
3) Your reputation is toast. It doesn’t get any more powerful than word-of-mouth praise — or condemnation. You’re in the driver’s seat as to which story people will tell about you.
4) The crows come home to roost. Someday when you least expect it, your boss or some other big shot will ask you – in a very public venue – for details of “your” terrific work. That’s when your credibility and career path hit a dead-end.
Taking and sharing credit: it’s your choice, your story, and your character.
And you’re in control.
Image: Winking Cat Comics