For most offices, the mantra repeated in meetings and adorning the walls on posters is that teamwork is the key to success. And we understand this to be true. But it is also important to understand the role you, as an individual, have played in that success because, when it comes to regular appraisals and reviews, credit for being the motivational driver (or the person who came up with the idea, or the person who solved the problems the project ran into) is what gets you the promotion. Furthermore, when you come to changing employers, you’ll need to be able to talk fluidly about the contributions you have made at work in the interview.
Of course, sometimes we don’t get the credit we deserve. We’ve all been there – you share an idea with colleague or a manager, you put the effort into the presentation only for your team member or manager to accept all the praise.
So, there are two aspects here – making sure people know your contribution, and handling the situation when people steal your credit. In this first part of two posts, we share our
Top-5 Tips For Securing (legitimate) Credit:
Active Visibility & Influence
Perhaps the most difficult time to show your individual contribution is when you’re working in a project team, where individual efforts are absorbed into the greater project narrative. At these times, it is important to be an active participant in meetings – and to make sure meetings are frequent. Ensure that you keep the rest of the team up to date on your activities and progress. Some people prefer not to be vocal and instead passively sit on the fringes of meetings – but you must put that to one side if you want people to remember what your contribution was. Furthermore, be actively engaged with colleagues on different parts of the project, enlisting their help when they need it, or likewise lending a hand if they need it. If you are the person who is constantly working with others to move the project forward, this heightens the perception of your role with the other team members
You may have been picked for a certain role in a team because of your proven skills and/or expertise in a particular area. In this case, you need to let your skills and experience shine through and prove that you are that valuable resource – educating and enlightening the rest of the team so they can benefit from that IP. However, there are often times when there’s an element of learning on-the-job, of treading into territory you haven’t visited before. In this case, you really want to ‘go to town’ on the subject matter research. Get to know it inside and out - so you become the expert in that area, which is in itself a highly rewarding endeavour. This is also important when presenting to be able to answer questions posed by your audience that perhaps weren’t covered in the slides. Batting away curveballs at presentations is a real profile-raiser
Celebrate & Communicate
It’s a fact of human nature that if you are good at giving compliments out, then people will want to reciprocate. Don’t go crazy, but when you see value or good work, be sure to compliment the person who created or facilitated that value. If you start doing this early in the project it means that from day one, people already understand contributions different people are making to the work and the importance of recognising those. What you also may need to do is to stop yourself from naturally self-deprecating when receiving compliments from managers or co-workers. Of course, recognise the input from team members, but remember to reciprocate with thanks and an outline of your contribution.
For example, if you are complimented on a strong presentation, you may respond with ‘Thanks! I appreciate that as I put a lot of effort into the slide deck, but John and Jane helped by providing excellent quality data summaries from the research’. Another way to create a ‘culture of credit’ is to throw it out to the team as a question early on – ‘What’s the best way we can make sure our work is recognised on this project?’. The solution may be a slide at the end of a presentation recognising major contributions. Making the case for this early on also helps to beat down the potential credit-thieves who step in to steal your thunder at the final stages – more on that in our follow-up blog post
One of the best ways to make stand-out contributions is to seek out projects, or parts of projects, that you can fully own. Sure, you may have work feeding in from other people, but if you are the one synthesising that into something new, or if you have a solo project, then your contribution is undeniable. You may take on a big project – which is time consuming and will pose many challenges but will be hugely rewarding and a significant case study on your resume; or it may be you accumulate a series of smaller projects with your name on them, making incremental improvements to your skills and experience but with an impressive impact on the business when viewed overall. You’ll also build a reputation for being trusted with responsibility
If you have a great idea, you may find an irresistible urge to blurt it out in the next meeting. The problem with this is that it’s easy for someone to take that idea in its raw form, work out the kinks and then run with it as theirs – maybe even unintentionally; they just want to see the project done well.
Instead, learn to nurture ideas. Spend a bit of time working out how your idea can be implemented, what the problems might be. Then you can present your idea properly. It may be just what the project needed, in which case your hard work will pay off and you’ll get the credit. It may be that your idea is rejected, but at least people can see the effort you are putting in and that you’re an ideas person. So, this scenario is a win-win
Of course, you’ll never get the full credit for every single piece of work you do, so while you can employ our top-tips to ensure you get the credit you deserve most of the time, you have to expect that there will be times this doesn’t happen. In these cases, you need to pick and choose your battles and decide what is and isn’t important in the long term - to your standing and your resume. It is important to be a strong team player as well as a valuable contributor. That said, there will be times your credit seems to have been stolen by someone else, and is worth regaining, so in our second part of this blog, we’ll discuss ways to handle this professionally.