Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Office Politics (Ep2): Stealing Work Credit

If you’ve ever done an amazing pitch, or dropped an amazing idea that turned out to be the talk of the company for at least half of the year, would you really be comfortable with another person taking the credit? That was my undoing sometime at work, we had this great Staff Forum coming, one of the bosses called me to ‘pick my brain’ on some office policies, I gave my clearly thought-out opinion to him, only for him to get to the larger gathering and own these ideas to himself, he didn’t give me any credit whatsoever. I won’t even lie, I was pained. Should I have gone around telling people that I owned that idea? –Pablo

I was a victim of sabotage and an open lie told against me. I took it so personally. In retrospect, I wish I had handled it better. Being a victim of work politics hurts, but don’t take it as a personal fight. Be professional irrespective. Focus on your work and start to prepare for the next move – Anonymous

Is it possible to grow up the ladder without playing dirty? Won’t you be cheated if you don’t react or in fact attack first?

Above are experiences shared by two of the respondents from the mini survey. In my previous post. I established that office politics is ubiquitous and is something everyone will likely face at some point(s) in their career journey. But is it possible to grow up the ladder without playing dirty? Won’t you be cheated if you don’t react or in fact attack first? Today we’ll look at one critical outplay of office politics: stealing work credit. It was one of the three elements that topped the chart in the survey, and I’ll share a few tips on how best to handle it. Disclaimer: I am not a career expert; my ideas, opinions, and suggestions here are based on my personal experiences and my observation of other people’s experiences within the corporate work circle.

work stress consists of four components; Workload (46%), People stress (28%), juggling work/personal life (20%), and job insecurity (6%)

Pablo’s situation is not uncommon and such things can really hurt, and if exposed to situations like this repeatedly it can have an adverse effect on one’s mental health. Sadly, this is what countless employees or working-class people deal with daily at work. In a 2006 survey conducted by ComPsych, an Employee Assistance Provider (EAP), it was shown that work stress consists of four components; Workload (46%), People stress (28%), juggling work/personal life (20%), and job insecurity (6%). Now this was a survey administered to American adults, and so in the typical African society and work structures, the figures might be distributed differently. Nonetheless, using this as an example we see clearly that people issues (which is where office politics is embedded) rates quite high.

“…don’t take it as a personal fight!”.

How you respond or react to office politics or negative workplace dynamics can either position you for success or worsen your reputation within the organization. I love the point shared by our anonymous responder – “…don’t take it as a personal fight!”. Imagine that you’re in a meeting where your teammate has just made a presentation that had at least 50% of your contribution in it, and she has portrayed the whole idea as hers, completely leaving you out of it. Your manager, other colleagues, and some senior management staff at that meeting are clapping and giving appreciative remarks to this colleague of yours, for a job that had both your collaborative efforts. You’re there quiet and seething with anger as this unfolds, and anyone who pays attention to your countenance can tell that you are visibly vexed. After the meeting, you do an email copying all present at the meeting and reporting how you participated in preparing the presentation and deserve to be credited for the job done.

The better way is not always the easier way, however it wins

Mistakes made:

  • It’s your word against your colleague’s, are the odds in your favor?
  • You’ve gone over your manager’s head and as such made an enemy for yourself
  • You’ve portrayed yourself as unprofessional and may be perceived as petty, jealous, and not a team player

The better way:

Please note that this is not always the easier way, nor does it give quickest results. However, it wins.

  • While in that meeting, you can give comments and contributions, referring to points in the presentation and using the ‘we’ pronoun very clearly. When questions are asked regarding the presentation, speak up and address them too. Act very naturally, not with resentment or in a move to prove a point.
  • After the meeting, and at a good time, raise your concern with this colleague. If her response is that she did not realize she had personalized the whole thing, have her make up for it by ensuring your manager knows it was teamwork.
  • If her response is negative, raise it with your manager. However, note that when reporting issues at work, you should do so without appearing as a complainer or bitter person, instead try to appear as someone who is concerned that such an attitude is not good for the team’s morale and for the firm at large. This buys your manager’s empathy and motivates him/her to act, much more than just ‘ranting’.

I hope you’ve found these few tips helpful. In my next post I will address two other elements: dealing with malicious work alliances & work sabotage. You can share your thoughts in the comment section, and if you wish to lend your voice as well, please fill in the survey here.  

FKhttps://bloomwithme.org
I write about family, faith, work and Life. My pieces focus on how I am learning to bloom in all these and I welcome you to bloom with me.

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I write about family, faith, work and Life. My pieces focus on how I am learning to bloom in all these and I welcome you to bloom with me.

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