Giving (and getting) credit where it’s due

Having someone else take credit for your work isn’t cool. Here’s what to do about it.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Being plagiarized is almost flattering. I mean, someone thought enough of something you wrote to try to pass off your words as his or her own. It might even make you swell with pride — although it’s hard to tell if that’s just a side effect of having your blood boil when you find out your work was stolen.

I’m probably not doing a good job of hiding the fact that this happened to me recently. It’s not the first time and it probably won’t be the last. That doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.

Frankly, it sucks having someone else take credit for your ideas. At one time or another we’ve probably all been there, too. You partner on a project with another co-worker and the president of the company takes notice. “Nice work,” the company prez says to your co-worker. “You really did a great job on this one!” Smiling, your co-worker is all, “Aw shucks, it was nothing really. I was happy to do it.” However, nowhere in that response was your involvement on the project mentioned.

Giving or sharing credit doesn’t always come easy for people. Sometimes it’s just an oversight. Other times people just don’t take the time to give credit, which happens more and more frequently on social media where sharing is so prevalent. Other times people like to keep all the glory to themselves. I personally believe that passing along some of that shine to others is what really makes you look good to your boss and colleagues, your clients, or your audience.

Let’s face it — credit matters in the workplace. According to Karen Dillon, author of the Harvard Business Review Guide to Office Politics, “That all goes into the bank account of how much value you bring to the organization and plays into promotion decisions, raises, and assignments.”

So, what should you do if someone at the office tries to take credit for work you’ve done? A 2015 article from Harvard Business Review contributing editor Amy Gallo offers the following advice:


  • Take some time to calm down and assess the situation. You don’t want to make a scene in the middle of a meeting, after all. After you’ve cooled down you can approach the situation with a level head while it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind.
  • Be clear about your contributions whenever you get an opportunity. You’re your own best advocate, and it’s easy to speak up with something as simple as, “I really enjoyed collaborating on X portion of the project,” to show your involvement.
  • Ask colleagues to mention your name when the idea or project comes up in conversation. Don’t feel awkward about it either. You can use the opportunity to offer the same for them if the project is brought up directly to you.


  • Feel like you need to get credit for every single thing you do. Pick your battles and fight for credit on the things that really matter.
  • Presume that the person had malicious intentions — credit stealing isn’t okay but it can simply be an accident or oversight.
  • Make any accusations — instead ask the person questions to try to figure out why it happened. People may feel cornered if they’re accused of something. Asking if being left out of the credit was a mistake or intentional gives your colleague a chance to explain their thought process and admit to their oversight.

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