Have you ever been in a meeting and heard someone present work and you think to yourself, “Wow, that sounds very familiar.” Then it hits you, “No wonder that sounds so familiar – that’s my work!”
If you’re in business long enough, someone else will take credit for work you have done. It’s not fun, but there are some things you can do to mitigate the likelihood of it happening again.
- Understand Your Context
Are you in a hyper-team oriented environment? If so, it’s possible that many people’s ideas, inputs, and outputs are measured in terms of team more than individual. Make sure to clarify expectations before sharing work updates in order to ensure all contributing team members are fairly represented.
- Discern Severity Before Taking Action
Before reacting and accusing someone of stealing your work, check with your co-worker and determine if his or her actions were unintentional. At the pace most of us run, that is highly possible. If you determine the employee’s intentions were purposeful, then the best course of action is to ask for a private audience with your manager to discuss your concerns. In preparation and as a matter of consistent good work practices, keep email discussion threads and journal project progress. Also, record key dates, times, and contributors. This puts you in a much stronger position than an “I say/you say” point of view.
- Set an Ethical Example
If you are presenting work that involves the contributions of others, be sure to represent all who contributed and the ways they did so. It may take a little extra time, but “giving credit where credit is due” creates a high-trust environment; and in a high-trust environment, people are more likely to fight for team than jockey for position.
No matter what, remain calm. If you start making accusations without first seeking clarification, you may bias decision makers to be less favorable to your position.