My boss routinely takes credit for my accomplishments. What should I do?

Industry Matters Newsletter
Moji Bonakdar, Senior Director, Chemical Medicines

Prepare and take advantage of perfecting your elevator pitch and let the right people know about your contributions to specific project(s). 

Greglynn Gibbs, ACS Career Consultant

Not knowing the particular details, you have a few options:

1. Have a professional conversation with your boss voicing your concern. If you have had any Conflict Resolution and Emotional Intelligence Training, are confident in your training, and believe your boss is reasonable or empathetic enough to change, this might be the situation for using those skills. 

2. Make sure you never verbally provide an idea or solution to a problem. Even if you are in a team meeting situation, it might be best to share any ideas, plans, or proposals in writing (i.e. email) so there is a time stamped paper trail as to where the idea originated. If your boss attempts to take credit again, you have the paper trail you need to prove the idea originated with you.

3. Speak to HR, an ombudsperson, or other officially designated conflict resolution professional within your company to ask them what your options for resolution are. Every company has its own unique culture, so a resolution method that might generally work in one situation might not work in yours. If you find that the culture of the company is one that the credit for great ideas flows up the ladder and goes to the boss, not the person who actually came up with the idea, and you expect to be acknowledged, given credit, or rewarded in some way, then that company may not be the best place for you to work and grow in as a professional. 

Lori Spangler, ACS Career Consultant

This is a tough challenge. Some managers will take credit for a team’s accomplishments, but still recognize, reward and promote individual team members who made the accomplishment happen. If this is not the case, and the manager is taking credit without supporting you, it might be helpful to develop a mentor relationship with a different supervisor. Perhaps you can get some clarity on whether your manager is recognized for hogging credit, a better understanding of the corporate culture you are in, or some specific suggestions for documenting your work before making it available to your manager.

Chris Bannochie, ACS Career Consultant

Talk to your supervisor as soon as possible before you become disenchanted or disengaged. Open communication is best. 

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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