What should you do if your work accomplishments go unnoticed or unrewarded or worse yet, credited to someone else? Here are recommendations about how to get credit at work:
Your co-workers and boss are busy with their own work and won’t specifically notice what you are doing unless you tell them. In many companies, it is culturally normative to track projects using software, such as Microsoft Project, Basecamp, Slack, Jira, Trello, or others. Ellen Mullarkey, Vice President at Messina Staffing says, “Document everything with time and date stamps. For example, if your team uses Slack, post weekly updates on your progress.”
Jason Yau, VP of E-Commerce & General Manager of CanvasPeople, adds, “Many companies have quarterly reviews or at the very least an annual review. This is a perfect time to lay all of your accomplishments out on the table. I highly recommend keeping a personal document for tracking all of your accomplishments you feel are worthy of praise or acknowledgment so when the time for a review comes, everything you have done is known to upper management.”
The accomplishments you describe in an annual review shouldn’t be a surprise to your boss, though. The annual review should be a refresher because you’ve kept your boss up-to-date via weekly or monthly status reports. If your boss is the type who doesn’t read emails or reports, insist on face-to-face meetings at a minimum on a quarterly basis.
Claim the credit.
Becky Beach, Lead Designer for American Airlines and a Business Blogger, says, “In the past, I had a co-worker pass off one of my reports as her own so I started placing my name on everything as a precaution. Now I put my name on all my work. It may look childish, but it helps get the message across that this is my work that I did. If I make a report, I put my name on it. If I make a binder, I put my name on it. You get the idea.”
Because it can look unseemly to engage in too much self-promotion, it is helpful to build relationships with other people who will serve as fans. Lou Haverty, CFA at Financial Analyst Insider explains, “The best way to get credit at work is by having someone else sing your praise, preferably a high performer in your office. This avoids the appearance of unattractive self-promotion if you try to claim credit yourself. You can’t do this overnight. You need to put in time and effort doing a really good job so that others speak positively about you to your boss without you needing to ask.”
In the U.S. workplace, extraversion is rewarded. (Fellow introverts, I know this one hurts.) If you don’t speak up in meetings, people may assume you haven’t done anything noteworthy. Logan Allec, a CPA and owner of personal finance site Money Done Right says, “If you share an idea and no one acknowledges it and then your colleague shares the same idea and he or she gets praised, evaluate whether you stated the idea too quietly or whether your colleague articulated the idea more clearly.”
Unfortunately, there is a well-known phenomenon where women and people of color are more often ignored in meetings. Here are some ways to navigate that dynamic to include diverse voices and make meetings more effective.
Share the credit.
Jim DeBetta, Invention and Retail Product Placement Specialist, advises that one good way to publicize your good work is to describe it in the context of praising others. He says, “The best way to sort of brag about your accomplishments is to share the fact that whatever you’ve done has helped somebody and you could share their successes and just simply mention that you were a part of that success.”
Ask for feedback.
A subtle way to communicate what you have accomplished without seeming to be grabbing for credit is to ask your boss for feedback about your work. Polly Kay, Marketing Manager at English Blinds, suggests asking, “Were you happy with the work I did on the x-y-z project or do you have any feedback for next time?” Specifying exactly what you did in the x-y-z project ensures that your boss knows what your part was.”
Find a new gig.
Sometimes a bad situation cannot be rehabilitated and it is time to move on. Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful, says, “If a boss consistently credits the wrong person and doesn’t seem to understand which people are responsible for a team’s success, they might just be a poor leader.” Lauren Remo, Content Creator and Digital Marketing Specialist, says, “If a boss never acknowledges your accomplishments, either you haven’t properly established your role or there is a bias present between you and your boss. If you can’t resolve the situation, it might be time to look into other options.”