A Foolproof Guide to Taking Credit in the Workplace

Are you tired of credit stealers taking the praise you deserve? Use these simple steps to claim credit for your ideas without the office drama.

The Meetingnotes Team
March 7, 2024

Teamwork is vital to a company’s success. But when a colleague starts to take credit for your work, you may begin to feel like collaboration is doing more harm than good. 

Whether you are working to receive a promotion or just feel like you’re not being noticed by your peers, it’s important to take a stand. Although taking action might seem daunting, you can deal with this process by learning how to navigate the situation appropriately. 

In this article, we’ll be guiding you through the following topics: 

Let’s get started. 

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Why is it important to get credit for your work? 

The consequences of failing to act when a co worker takes credit are far greater than staying silent. 

First and foremost, a key point is to speak up for the sake of your career. Because promotions and raises are dependent on job performance and accomplishments, letting the situation fade away will cost you small gains in salary now that add up to a large sum of money down the line. In fact, this money may be taken out of your hands and into those of a potential credit stealer. 

Credit stealing is also a social and ethical issue on a larger scale. According to Harvard Business Review, “research shows that women get less credit when [they] work in groups with men.” Unfortunately, women tend to stay quiet when their efforts are overlooked because they fear that speaking up may harm them instead. If you’re a woman, it’s important to be vigilant when getting credit for your work. Likewise, before taking recognition, men should think through whether or not they are misplacing recognition.

Lastly, it’s crucial to distinguish your work because you will likely find a job elsewhere along the line. Hiring managers are looking for quantified accomplishments on your resume, as well as your name on any sample materials that you completed in the past. 

Practicing giving recognition to those that deserve it also helps to create healthier team dynamics and boost motivation. Only by celebrating everyone’s contributions are you going to have a strong culture where everyone is eager to work hard.

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How to get credit for your hard work

A co worker on your team took advantage of your teamwork to benefit themselves. What happens now? 

Before you do anything, remember to assess the situation entirely. Instead of making accusations off the bat, it’s essential to have your colleague talk about and explain their behavior first.

Oftentimes, your peers are not actively trying to make you look bad. Some people find it challenging to present their findings in front of higher-ups. People can stumble and feel pressured, resulting in poor word choices that could suggest that they did most of the work. For instance, a person might use the word “I” rather than the word “we” to include the rest of the team.

Here are a few steps you can take to manage and prevent credit stealers from putting you at a disadvantage. 

Clear the air 

When someone takes credit for your original ideas, you want to set the record straight as soon as possible. 

By letting the moment pass, you’re essentially letting a coworker take all the praise. Many people find it difficult to speak up because they don’t want to point fingers or give a bad reputation. However, when you stay late, work overtime, and actively strive to be involved, you deserve to toot your own horn. 

A great way to facilitate this conversation is to acknowledge that the work was a collaborative effort but emphasize elements that you delivered on your own. For instance, you can say, “While we worked together to complete this project, my coworker organized all the creative assets, and I managed and analyzed all of our collected data.” Doing this ensures that tensions don’t rise between you and your business partners. 

However, if someone claims credit for work they didn’t participate in, the conversation may have to be taken privately. You want to avoid publicly outing your coworkers in a meeting, because this could lead to more damage. Instead, you can decide whether you want to speak with them or your boss afterward. 

Follow up privately

As frustrating as it may be, there’s no need to be obnoxious or aggressive when confronting your colleagues. 

Not too long after the incident, you want to approach your coworker or boss and ask if it’s a good time to talk in a one-on-one meeting. Then, open the discussion by recognizing your coworker’s contributions to the team. Again, this shows that your confrontation is out of respect, not just anger. 

With a stern tone, you want to be clear about your emotions. Tell your colleague or boss that you want to be transparent in order to avoid growing tensions or problems in the future. Let them know your perspective regarding the distribution of work and how you felt about your hard work being praised elsewhere. 

Close the discussion by thanking them for being understanding and cooperative. As long as you are honest, you have a high chance of growing closer with your team members and understanding one another better. 

Create original documents for new procedures

Take it upon yourself to create documents for any new lists of steps that you come across. 

For instance, if posting on social media includes creating a graphic, compressing and exporting the file, and writing captions and hashtags, turn these notes into an original document. By doing this, you can track the tasks that you do and prove that you have the knowledge to carry them out. 

Every day, lists and procedures are frequently lost within Slack messages, emails, and more. By making your own documents to track these steps, your colleagues and boss will be able to utilize them, resulting in better performance. 

Quantify your work

No matter what, do not let others determine whether or not you deserve recognition in the first place.

While you can hope that your peers will support you, credit stealing happens in many environments, even outside of the workplace. But by keeping track of your achievements with accurate numbers, you can back yourself up or even negotiate a case for a raise. 

Document your work in terms of quantity. For instance, how many hours did you spend cleaning project data? What was the percent increase in user engagement? How many community members were you able to recruit and retain? 

This way, you’re able to fall back on a record of these numbers when the time calls for it. 


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Additional tips and best practices

In addition to the steps above, we’ve gathered a few extra tips to practice habitually: 

  • Ask, don’t assume
  • Chime in with your knowledge 
  • Be a role model for good credit sharing

To claim credit, it’s important to continue applying these practices to make it easier for you to stand up for yourself at any moment. 

Don’t assume someone is credit stealing

One of the most important parts of claiming credit is to ask questions rather than jumping to conclusions. 

Most people are not out to embarrass you. Remember to recognize that your peers are human, and a lot of their intentions are not as malicious as you may think. By asking for clarification, tensions can be kept at a minimum, and you can count on the person to be more understanding. 

On the other hand, you can also ask questions for clarification as the person is presenting their project findings. For example, if you notice that someone is taking undue credit for something they were never a part of, ask them about their contributions and ideas. 

This is a subtle way to let them know that you noticed their mistake of taking recognition for your work. This sets strong boundaries without disrupting the course of the meeting or causing arguments. 

Chime in with your own knowledge

Another tip to practice often is to use every opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and participation in company initiatives. When there is an active conversation about a project, lead the discussion and try to talk about your involvement in it. 

If all else fails, ask a trusted colleague to help you answer questions about your ideas. By having them facilitate questions and add to the conversation, your team can get a sense of all the hard work you put in. 

Be a role model for good credit sharing

The most important part of owning your ideas is to be proactive, no matter what is happening in the workplace. By modeling appropriate credit sharing, others around you are more likely to follow in your footsteps. 

Frequently ask your team how to ensure that everyone is recognized for their contributions. Whether this means typing everyone’s name at the end of a slideshow presentation or planning out how you’ll take turns presenting, there are many small ways to encourage giving credit where it's due. 

At the same time, be careful — you don’t want to underestimate and depreciate your achievements. Therefore, focus your recognition only on those you believe genuinely deserve it. 

If you practice these steps consistently, you might even transform a credit stealer to correct their behavior. 

Claim credit for your work

If you are someone that lets situations like these pass by without a peep, try to make it a point to take credit for your ideas more regularly. Immediately taking action is one of the best ways to remedy the situation. 

Not only is taking credit a vital part of your career path, but it also helps to empower you as an employee. When others show appreciation for the hard work you’ve put in, this can motivate you even further to carry out your project successfully. 

Lastly, claiming and giving credit encourages the company to create a more positive work culture. A successful business is not only dependent on performance, but also on the team’s ability to foster a supportive environment. Rather than having coworkers asking petty questions, starting rumors, and creating drama, open dialogue will promote a healthy community where everyone’s ideas are valued and heard all around. 

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