Character, Credit and Credibility

A small group of us had labored for months on a project to improve morale, performance and slowdown turnover in a particular facility. This assignment had been layered on top of already full task lists, yet it was a labor of love for most of the project team. Who can resist the lure of freedom to create whatever is needed to mend something so tattered and broken?

Several months into the project, improvements in metrics first trickled 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 management 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. (Bad on the prez for not doing more research.)

Could this be you? Have you tooted your horn yet forgotten the orchestra that accompanied you?

Credit-Taking Rules for the Road

  • Using “I” is appropriate when you’ve single-handedly done the work and the end result is stupendously good, not-so-good or just plain stinks.
  • You’re not alone. First there were six, now four-and-a-half degrees of separation between us in a world becoming ever more connected. You just never know when you’re going to bump into and/or need that someone you once threw under the bus.
  • But you’re gonna work alone.  No one wants to partner up with or even help a glory-grabber. What’s the point in signing on to be invisible?
  • You’ve written a bad story about yourself. 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.
  • The “gotcha’s” will get you. Someday when you least expect it, your boss or some other pooh-bah will ask you – in a very public venue – for details of “your” terrific work. That’s when your career path hits a dead-end, and you won’t hear the applause the orchestra gets for playing it’s about time.

Taking and sharing credit:  it’s your choice, your story, your character and you’re in control.