Early in my career I had a boss that claimed credit for all my work. No matter what I created or submitted, he would immediately plaster his name everywhere on the document before the digital ink could even dry.
He was good... and quick.
So quick I often wondered if he might be a quick-change artist on the side.
If I hid my name as the author in the document properties, he'd find and catch that. If I hid a crazy word like "purple cow" in the document--hoping he wouldn't catch it and look like a fool--he somehow found it.
No matter what I tried, he couldn't be stumped. Before long, it became an obsession for me to try and trip him up and expose him for his credit thieving ways.
In hindsight, I could have--and should have--handled things a lot differently. I wasted far too many brain cells and time trying to thwart his evil ways.
Perhaps you can benefit from my mistakes. Here are some things I've since learned that would have been far more successful in handling behaviors like his.
1. Give The Benefit of the Doubt
There are always two sides to every story, even though we only want to see ours. When you first suspect your boss of taking credit, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It might be different than what you first thought.
2. Learn to Communicate Clearly
Eric Breon, CEO of Vacasa, has a good reminder: The person who communicates best is likely to get credit. Make sure your manager doesn't need to step in and clarify your ideas will help ensure the credit stays with you.
3. Get Your Boss Involved as a Participant
If you get your boss involved as an active participant in whatever it is you're creating--rather than just being a recipient of your ideas--it makes it less likely that credit will be stolen from you.
4. Suggest We Instead of Me
Sarah Kruse, also of Vacasa, suggests asking your boss to use the pronoun "we" instead of "I" to acknowledge a great team effort. This will help your boss be seen as a great leader, as well as give everyone proper credit - including you.
5. Ask for Presentation Opportunities
Try asking to present your idea instead of just turning it over. You'd be surprised at how often your boss will say yes.
6. Make Your Boss Look Good
If do you get the chance to present--and even if you don't--always make your boss look good. Chances are if you make your boss look good, your boss will always make you look good.
7. Always Be Sharing
Jay Bean, CEO of FreshLime, suggests that you should always speak up publicly to share good ideas about projects. Being known as an idea person makes it less likely your boss will try and steal your thunder.
8. Get Public Feedback
Along the same vein, Bean also suggests if you make it a known habit that you soliciting peer feedback before ever presenting something to your boss, it will quickly discourage any attempt at idea theft.
9. Reply to All
It's time to break email etiquette. If your idea-stealing boss asks a group of individuals for feedback, make sure to hit reply to all--or send to all. This will stop any attempt at taking credit dead in its tracks.
10. Practice What You Preach
Sometimes all it takes is a little leadership from the ranks to influence behavior. If you want your ideas freely acknowledged, make sure you freely acknowledge the contributions and ideas of others. It will spread.
11. Find a Mentor
There's more than one way to get noticed in an organization. If your boss won't help you, find a mentor who will. A good mentor is just as powerful as a boss in helping people take notice of you and your ideas.