Your team is facing a dilemma or problem. Leadership charges everyone to come up with a solution. An idea is offered and is successfully implemented. Suddenly, there is a clamor of claims on who deserves the most credit for the success. People are using every email and every meeting to insert self-promoting footnotes on how the solution was virtually all their idea. The war for credit has begun. Conversely, let’s say the idea is unsuccessful. All of sudden, it seems like no one had anything to do with it. Some go further and vocalize how they always objected to the idea from the beginning. They practically launch a campaign to let the whole world know they are not to blame. Does any of this sound familiar?
Maybe it’s just human nature, but it always seems like people want credit for all of the “wins” in business but none of the “losses”. Often, people go to great lengths, including lying and blame, to meet those ends.
How does a faithful professional navigate the minefield of “credit wars” in the office?
Here are some thoughts to consider:
- Where Credit Is Due: Give credit where credit is due. It’s not a cliché; it’s scripture (Romans 13:7). If you complete a successful project and know it was greatly in part to the work of a teammate or cross-functional partner, let it be known. Send a quick email to their manager (CC yours) explaining the impact and your gratitude for their contribution. Contrary to popular belief, acknowledging the contributions of others does NOT diminish your value or your achievement. In fact, it provides great incentive for people to work (with excellence) with you in the future. It’s like a success generator!
- Accountability: Ok…I know some people are allergic to accountability. They seem like professional “buck passers” and Olympic “blame game” champions. And perhaps, you have even found yourself thrown “under the bus” by their hands. It’s very tempting to return in kind but resist it. First of all, for Christians, vengeance is out of our scope (Romans 12:19). And two, a staple of maturity is admitting when you’re wrong. But we don’t just own the error, we take ownership of the solution to fix it too. In this way, you distinguish yourself as a trustworthy professional that management can depend on rather than a childish blamer no one wants to work with.
- Resident Martyr: Being a faithful Christian does not mean being the office martyr. It is not an act of holiness to allow someone to thrust their blame on you. Object to such behavior by taking a stand on the truth, but with grace and respect. But what if no one believes you? God will make your innocence in the matter shine like the sun in the sky (Psalm 37:6). You don’t have to plead your case or convince anyone.
The other side of this is giving credit to people that didn’t do anything. Sometimes it may feel “mean” to leave a teammate out of the limelight, even if they refused to join you in the trenches. Trust me, you’re not doing anyone any favors by giving them credit they don’t deserve. It will only make you embittered toward them from feeling used and will reinforce their poor behavior which will hold them back.
What are your experiences with “credit wars” in the office? How can these tips help you in current circumstances you are facing?