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co-worker took credit for a project I
have been working on
April 2005, Article 5
A co-worker from another department took credit for a project I have been working on and passed it off as his own. When I spoke with upper management I was told to tread lightly on this one, although it is not right it is better for me to work closely with the others rather than putting my foot down and taking claim as the others would be sure to make it a failure. I feel to allow this is saying, 'yes steal my work'. If the company is allowing this type of behaviour. Is there something else I should do?
Two issues arise in this situation. First is the general question as to who should get ‘credit’ for projects done in the workplace. It sounds as if there is no clear policy in your firm and because of this it is possible for the credit to be assumed by someone who did not do the work. To address this I suggest that you approach senior management and ask if there is such a policy and if so, how is it enforced. Such a policy might involve more regular reporting of your workplace activities, closer coordination with your superior or some other method of allowing management to know who is doing what, so that when the project is finished there is no question about who did it.
If there is currently no policy you might ask management to implement one, and explain to them the difficulty you encountered in this situation. Part of good management is to ensure that employees are recognized for their contributions to the firm and to encourage them to make the extra effort to do their best work by recognizing and rewarding such effort. If, however, management does not see the value of clarifying the policy around recognizing who has done what work, you may then want to consider trying to find another firm to work with where your efforts will be recognized.
The second issue that arises in this case is contained in your comment that you were told to ‘tread lightly on this one.’ It is unclear why you were told this, but I would be concerned if management is refusing to intervene in a situation where your concern is recognized as legitimate, but there are improper motives underlying their non-action. If management is concerned that recognizing your work would result in other employees sabotaging the project, then there is a serious moral problem and an issue of workplace authority as well. While that is more management’s concern than yours I wonder if you are really wise to continue to work in such an environment. Poorly managed firms don’t do well in the long run and they are certainly stressful places to work in.
wish you well in dealing with these matters. Thanks
for writing to Office-Politics.
Dr. John Burton LL.B. M.B.A. M.Div. Ph.D. is an ethicist, mediator, lawyer and theologian whose passion is helping people and organizations create better relationships and stronger communities by being clear, committed and collaborative in their approach to ethics and conflict. John is currently located in Prince Rupert, B.C., Canada, working with Canada's aboriginal communities.
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