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Career Growth

Implications of Stealing Colleagues Ideas and Taking Credit for Their Work

One of the fastest ways to sever your colleagues' trust is to take credit for their work. This behavior hinders morale and does not create an environment that fosters belonging. 

Why leaders should acknowledge individual contributions

One of the fastest ways to sever your colleagues’ trust is to take credit for their work. Similarly, some of the most detrimental things a leader can do is to not recognize an individual for their contributions, to make them feel devalued, and to enable others to take credit for others’ work. This behavior hinders morale and does not create an environment that fosters belonging.  When this type of behavior is prevalent on teams, top talent will out the door… without thinking twice.

I was reading this Harvard Business Review article, How to Respond When Someone Takes Credit for Your Work, while reflecting on my own personal work experience. In my case, there were repeated incidents.  Let’s just say that it got to the point where I started to feel like I was living in some sort of warped universe.  For the life of me, I could not understand why this was happening.

I will paraphrase the second paragraph because it’s a powerful one and solidifies my sentiments in the introduction of this post.  In short, getting credit for your work DOES matter because it factors into your performance evaluations and your future assignments (Harvard Business Review, 2021). I feel, when someone takes credit for your work it puts you on guard because you become concerned about the future success of your career journey. 

a man angry in a workplace
Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

In today’s post I will be sharing three negative implications of taking credit for someone else’s work.  I will pull from my personal experience, observations, and research to evaluate these implications.

The negative implications are:

  • Loss of synergy
  • Decreased morale
  • Resignations
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Loss of Synergy

When this type of behavior is prevalent on teams, there is a loss of synergy.  As a result, the team can become disjointed.   I’ve observed that team members who do not trust one another struggle with issues such as:

  • Effective communication
  • Productive workflows
  • Excellence in execution – because some may be hold back talents

Synergy is important because the collective team can produce more than the individuals in isolation. As I reflect upon my situation, I can certainly say synergy was lost.  I was hesitant to communicate any ideas around this individual out of fear that they would steal my ideas and pass them along as self-developed ideas. 

I know you are probably thinking, “but why does it matter”.  It matters because certain situations are tied to one’s personal growth and advancement.  When someone intentionally hinders your growth, it is a cause to proceed with caution, in my opinion.

Decreased Morale

Let’s face it, high performing individuals take their work product seriously.  As much as we like to say that “there is no I in team”, people want credit for their work. Acknowledging the individual, fosters a sense of belonging.  There is personal satisfaction in knowing that one’s contributions are being recognized.  Yes, it’s more about the team but, within the team there are individuals. Let’s not forget to recognize individuals on teams.

Let’s not forget to recognize individuals on teams. – Career Mom Community

When an individual continues to experience someone taking credit for their work, taking their ideas, and not receiving credit, feelings of frustration can intensify.  As a result, impacted individuals detach and protect their work product.  To take it a step further, on lookers who may not be impacted, but have observed, may proceed with caution as a way to protect their work as well.

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Resignation

As I mentioned earlier in this post, individuals in the workplace have a desire to feel valued. When someone has experiences in the workplace that make them feel devalued, they will be apt to leave in search of an environment that will appreciate and celebrate their contributions. 

These three implications are a few of many other negative side effects brought on by this behavior.  If this has been your experience recently, I encourage you to read the HRB article linked above.  It shares some great insights and ways that you can address similar situations.

I will share my thoughts on how to deal with someone stealing your work and/or taking credit for your work in an upcoming post.  Subscribe so you don’t miss it!

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