Your Boss Stole the Credit. What Now?
It’s not an uncommon scenario: You slave away at a project for weeks, months, maybe even years, only to have your boss take the credit in the wake of a successful release. If this has happened to you, you’re not alone—and there are things you can do about it. The trick to dealing with a glory hog—whether the hog in question is a boss or colleague—is to resist the urge to instantly go DEFCON 1. Yes, they took the public glory for the hardware or software you basically designed and built single-handedly… but going negative from the outset will likely get you nowhere. Instead:
Embrace Openness While your options for correcting the situation are far more limited once the project is completed, you can do a lot during its initial stages to ensure everybody recognizes what you’ve done. The key to that is openness: Make sure your whole team and other stakeholders, and not just your boss or a single colleague, know what you’re working on. Offer regular updates on progress.
Get It All in Writing It’s important to keep records of activity when working on a project. If issues arise later on, you can point to a long string of emails and documents that show the progress of your work, what occurred in meetings, and so on.
(Maybe) Talk to Your Boss Did your boss hog the limelight? If you’ve traditionally had a good relationship with him or her—and you’re not concerned that they’ll turn vindictive when you bring up the issue—it might be worth scheduling a meeting. During that discussion, keep things non-confrontational and positive; there’s always a chance—depending on circumstances—that the credit-theft was unintentional. Mention your feelings of disappointment. You might not receive retroactive credit for your work, but at least the chances of it happening again will hopefully be diminished.
(Maybe) Talk to a Third Party If you feel that your boss will ding you somehow for bringing up the issue, consider whether you want to involve third parties, such as your boss’s boss or another executive. This strategy can have repercussions: If your boss finds out you went behind his or her back, it could make the rest of your tenure with the company very awkward. But that third party might also have some context-specific advice about dealing with the situation that you could find useful.
Transfer Divisions Many larger companies allow tech pros to jump between divisions and projects. If you don’t like how your current boss claims credit, consider asking for a transfer.