I’m sure you know at least one person who likes to take credit for things other people make happen. Often, these are the very same people who love to spread the blame. But when your boss takes credit for your work without ever acknowledging you, it makes you want to scream.
I know one boss who took over for someone else, and (as you probably already guessed) he took credit for everything good started by the last person. And he also blamed the last person for everything that went wrong. Even for things that didn’t go wrong. But he was artfully skilled at painting the picture to make him always come out the winner.
Why do people hog all the credit?
People who are totally comfortable with who they are don’t need to take credit for things they didn’t do. And those people also have no trouble sharing credit and even giving the credit to someone else who really earned it.
So when a boss takes credit for things you do, it tells me that they are insecure. Either they don’t trust that what they are doing is enough or they worry that other people may look better than they look. And either possibility threatens them in some way.
On the outside, they may seem very sure of themselves. And they may even be good at doing PR (public relations) for themselves. Again making them seem strong and secure. But it’s all about some deep fear that, in some way, they are not enough exactly as they are.
⇒ EXTRA: How To Deal With a Bully Boss
How your boss’s behavior affects you
When a boss takes credit for your work, not only are they minimizing your efforts as other see you, but they are hiding any appreciation for you. And people deserve to be appreciated. We all love getting praise for our efforts.
Some employees may see that as part of the game and brush it off. At least outwardly. But most people feel hurt by a boss that doesn’t recognize their contributions. It also can trigger feelings from other times, like when your parents or partners took you for granted — or worse.
Add to that outright stealing credit for your hard work, and, over time, this can grow into resentment. It can color your relationship with your boss as well as feelings about the job in general. It’s one thing to be ignored, but to have your boss “disappear you” when it comes to credit can be infuriating.
So what can you do if your boss takes credit?
While we know what a boss should do ideally, sometimes there just isn’t very much we can do. Especially if your boss is relentlessly self-focused and set in their ways. People who don’t see a need to change rarely change.
So you have only a few choices. Perhaps some combination of these can help:
- Ignore it and accept that as long as you are in this job, that’s just the way it’s going to be. Perhaps there is enough else good to balance things out.
- Try to connect more with your boss. See if there are ways you can help and / or support them more. Perhaps they see you as a threat and might be more open to at least sharing credit if they see you as an ally.
- Make sure you find ways to let others know what you’re working on and how it’s going. You don’t want to actively undermine your boss (the word might get back to him or her), so the trick is to do it in a “sharing info” way, rather than bragging or complaining. Also ask what others are working on, so it becomes mutual support.
- Sit down with your boss and let them know how you feel. Be careful not to blame. Best to frame it as something that would help make the job better for you. Come prepared with a short list of things that you worked on recently, in case your boss really believes they did it all.
- Keep your resume up to date so you can move on if this really is eating you alive. I know a woman who never got praise or credit from her boss, and the day she started a new job with an appreciative boss, she felt like a huge weight had been lifted!
For more on bosses and work: