In work, it’s common for employees to share ideas and work together towards common goals. However, this spirit of teamwork can be undermined by individuals who habitually take credit for the ideas and efforts of their colleagues.

These “credit snatchers” can create a toxic environment, demoralise team members, and stifle innovation.

In this article, I discuss why people take credit for others’ work and strategies for dealing with them, mitigating their negative impact, and fostering a more respectful and productive workplace.

In the extended YouTube version of this article, I go into more detail and cover an additional three strategies for dealing with credit snatching behaviour. You can watch it here.

Why Credit Snatchers Take Your Credit

Credit snatchers claim recognition for others’ work for various reasons, ranging from personal insecurities to strategic career advancement. Here are some common motivations behind this behaviour:

1.         Insecurity and Self-Doubt

Many credit snatchers are plagued by feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. They fear that their own contributions are not sufficient to earn praise or advancement, so they latch onto the achievements of others to bolster their image.

By presenting themselves as more competent and valuable, they hope to mask their insecurities and gain the approval of their peers and superiors.

2.         Ambition and Career Advancement

In competitive workplaces, the pressure to stand out and achieve career advancement can drive individuals to take shortcuts, including taking credit for others’ work.

These ambitious individuals believe that by showcasing more accomplishments—regardless of their true origin—they can climb the corporate ladder more quickly, secure promotions, and gain access to coveted projects.

3.         Lack of Accountability

Credit snatchers often thrive in environments without clear accountability and recognition mechanisms.

If an organisation does not have robust systems for tracking contributions and recognising individual efforts, such as formal review processes and regular 1:2:1s, it becomes easier for unscrupulous individuals to claim others’ work as their own without facing repercussions.

4.         Opportunism

Some individuals simply seize opportunities as they arise. They may not set out to steal credit but will do so if they perceive an advantage.

This behaviour can be especially prevalent in workplaces where collaboration is informal and contributions are not well-documented, for example, where there is no formal performance review process in place.

Common Tactics of Emotional Intimidation

  1. Gaslighting: Making the victim doubt their own perceptions, memory, or sanity.

  2. Undermining: Sabotaging someone’s work or confidence, often through subtle means.

  3. Isolation: Deliberately excluding someone from meetings, projects, or social gatherings.

  4. Micromanagement: Excessive control over someone’s work, leading to a sense of powerlessness.

  5. Public Humiliation: Criticising or embarrassing someone in front of others.

  6. Inconsistent Expectations: Frequently changing goals or standards to create confusion and insecurity.

Strategies for Dealing with Credit Snatchers

Dealing with credit snatchers requires a proactive and strategic approach.

Here are some effective personal strategies to help you protect your contributions and ensure you receive the recognition you deserve:

1.         Document Your Work

Maintain Detailed Records: Keep thorough documentation of your work, including emails, project logs, meeting notes, and drafts of your ideas. This record-keeping serves as tangible proof of your contributions and can be invaluable if you need to defend your work. It is also very useful information to have for your CV or resume.

Use Time-Stamped Tools: Utilise tools that automatically time-stamp your work, such as version control systems or collaborative platforms like Google Docs. This can provide clear evidence of when you developed your ideas and contributions.

2.         Communicate Clearly

Assert Your Role: When discussing your work in meetings or presentations, be explicit about your contributions. Use “I” statements to assert your role in the work. For example, say, “I developed this strategy by…” instead of “WE developed this strategy by…”

Share Progress Updates: Regularly update your team and supervisors on your progress through emails or project management tools. This keeps everyone informed about your contributions and reduces the opportunity for others to claim your work.

3.         Seek Acknowledgment

Politely Assert Your Credit: If someone takes credit for your work, address it directly and professionally. For instance, you can say, “I appreciate that you find my idea useful. Let’s discuss how we can collaborate further on this.”

Public Recognition: When possible, present your ideas and work in public forums, such as team meetings or company-wide presentations. This public exposure makes it harder for credit snatchers to appropriate your work without being noticed.

4.         Enhance Your Visibility

Be proactive and take the initiative to share your ideas and progress with your supervisors and peers. Don’t wait for others to recognise your work—make sure your contributions are visible and acknowledged.

Engage in Cross-Departmental Collaboration: Engaging with colleagues from different departments can increase your visibility within the organisation. This broader exposure can help ensure that your contributions are recognised beyond your immediate team.

5.         Consider Leaving!

If you’ve tried everything here and even raised the issue informally or even formally with a business leader or HR and nothing has been done about it, it’s probably time to leave and take your expertise to somewhere where you’ll receive the acknowledgement, validation, and compensation you deserve.

The Wrap-Up

Credit snatchers can significantly impact workplace dynamics, demoralising employees and stifling creativity. Understanding why individuals engage in this behaviour and recognising its detrimental effects are crucial steps in addressing the problem.

By employing personal strategies such as documenting your work, communicating clearly, seeking acknowledgement, and enhancing your visibility, you can protect your contributions and ensure you receive the recognition you deserve.

Remember, your work and ideas are valuable, and ensuring they are recognised is essential for both personal and professional growth. By taking proactive steps to safeguard your contributions, you can foster a more respectful and productive work environment where everyone’s efforts are acknowledged and rewarded.

What Next?

If you would like coaching support on any of the topics I discuss in my articles, please DM me or email me at info@jobanks.net to arrange a 15-minute complimentary discovery call.

Again, in the extended YouTube version of this article, I go into more detail and cover an additional three strategies for dealing with credit snatching behaviour. You can watch it here.

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