Claiming credit for the work of others is a very common problem. Unfortunately, the truth is, is that there are lots of people claiming credit for the work of others on LinkedIn, in meetings and casual conversations. It’s an occupational hazard of work and life.
One of my current coachees is experiencing this exact problem. A colleague she works with has just announced on LinkedIn that they are leaving their current organisation. In the announcement this person listed a flagship project that she created and nurtured as his own. This project had a massive impact on the profile of the organisation and lead to organisation winning an award. Naturally, when she read the announcement, she was pretty upset particularly as this person is generally a decent human being and very nice.
As JFK famously said: “Victory has a thousand fathers…”
Everyone wants to be on the winning team and claim their spot on the metaphorical podium of success. No one wants to fail or admit to being unsuccessful, even though being unsuccessful is the way we learn and improve what we do in the future.
Some people genuinely believe that it’s ok to claim credit for projects that are not their own, especially now that most people have a social media presence and there is a great deal of pressure to make an impact. However, there are a few things you can do…
1. Update your social media channels
Start by updating your LinkedIn profile with the projects you are responsible for as part of your job role and profile. Anyone who looks at your co-worker’s profile will most likely get results for people with similar interests and keywords. Therefore it is highly likely that you will appear in the sidebar on their screen alongside your colleague for the same projects.
2. Start talking about your work online
LinkedIn has a fantastic publishing platform. Anyone who is a member can publish their own content and share it to their network or all members of LinkedIn. Why don’t you consider publishing a couple of posts about your projects? Talk about what you did and your approach. If your project is confidential, talk about your results without naming the project.
A few posts like this will highlight that your colleague was not working alone and recruiters may challenge her story if they come across your content as part of their search results.
3. Connect with more colleagues from your organisation
Make LinkedIn work for you. Who else knows what you do? Visit LinkedIn and connect with more colleagues from your organisation. This is a great way to publicise the work you’ve delivered in the past and showcase what you are currently involved with. As you spread the word to more connections, it will soon become apparent that your colleague is not being wholly truthful about the work she claims to be have worked on.
4. Get recommendations on your LinkedIn profile
Another great feature of LinkedIn is the ability to ask for recommendations and have them posted on your profile. Approach one or two of your colleagues who know you well and rate the work you do. Ask them to give you a recommendation based on the work you delivered for the projects. Unless your involvement is genuine, no one will agree to give a recommendation if that person is not associated with projects they claim as this would affect their reputation. So this is an excellent way of showing social proof of your involvement and contribution to these projects.
Remember this; your colleague may get attention and interest due to the projects she is highlighting on her profile but she will eventually come unstuck when she gets a decent interviewer who will want to know very specific details about the projects that only the initiator would know. The more social proof you put out there more questions people will ask about her involvement in projects she has not genuinely contributed to.