When Someone Takes Credit For Your Work

Ever wonder how to respond when someone takes credit for your work? In meetings, does a boss or colleague often restate your ideas as their own? What should you do when someone takes credit for your ideas?

Having a coworker take credit for your ideas is a common experience, and it’s tricky to manage well. If you’ve ever had someone else take credit for your ideas or work, this episode is for you.

In This Episode of The Career Rx We’ll Discuss:

  • 5 ways to respond when a boss or coworker takes credit for your ideas or work
  • How to respond while preserving professional relationships and assuming good intent
  • Why it matters if you get credit and visibility for your work

Today’s topic is what to do when other people take credit for your ideas. This question came up in a LinkedIn group for women physicians in industry and it resonated with a lot of other people during one of our recent calls. If you’re a woman physician in pharma, medical device, or biotech, come join us! If not, but you aspire to transition to an industry career, click here.

By the end of this episode, you’ll be armed with five ways to handle situations in which someone claims your ideas or work as their own, whether it is deliberate or not.

“You bring a lot of value to the table, and you deserve to be recognized for it.” – Marjorie Stiegler

In this Episode:

[0:30] Find me on Clubhouse! (Non Clinical Doctors)
[1:20] Women Physicians in Industry – join me on LinkedIn
[3:00] Identifying with your superior affirming your ideas
[4:10] The direct approach – execute with tact!
[6:10] Set yourself up to be heard beforehand
[7:20] Be the example
[8:50] Give more detail, depth to support your thought process
[10:30] Confronting but not confrontational
[11:40] Asking for feedback (no, really!)
[12:50] Saving the best for last – you really need to hear this one
[14:15] Ensuring you have professional visibility and recognition

Links and Resources:

The Branding Rx 18 hours of CME, mastering digital strategies for advancing your career, building your business, and growing your professional brand

Clubhouse: Non Clinical Doctors Club

LinkedIn group for women physicians in industry

Industry Insiderlearn exactly how to land a rewarding nonclinical career without a new degree, connections on the inside, prior experience, or a pay cut



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TRANSCRIPT: Episode 60 – When Someone Takes Credit for Your Work and Ideas

Hey there, I’m Marjorie Stiegler and you’re listening to The Career Rx Podcast, where we tackle the important things they don’t teach you in medical school. Like how to treat your career, like the business it really is, with strategies to accelerate the kind of success that you want, because you deserve a career you love, and a career that loves you back. Are you ready? Let’s get into it.

Welcome back to the career prescription I am broadcasting today live in Clubhouse. So if you’re on the Clubhouse app, please do come follow me and also find and join my club called Non Clinical Doctors. We have great conversations like this, and sneak peeks of my podcast all the time. So I hope to see you there. The topic today is what to do when other people take credit for your ideas. And very often, you know whether that’s intentional or not intentional, it can make a person feel sort of invisible or as if their words and their actions don’t stand on their own, which is really important for your professional visibility and eventually for your professional advancement. So this topic came up because of a question that was raised at a networking chat that I host every other week for women physicians in pharma and medical devices. So if you are a woman physician in industry, please feel free to come on over to LinkedIn and find the group I’ll put the link in the show notes for this episode. And you can join, if you are not already in industry, I can help you with that as well. I’ll leave some links over on the website to help you there. But this particular forum is for women physicians already working in biotech, medical device, and pharma. So every other week, we get together, we talk about things that are relevant to our workplace and to our own professional development, professional success. And most recently, somebody brought up an issue that seemed to resonate with a lot of people. So I thought I would build an episode around it. Okay, so for this discussion, the question is, and I’ll say this question is from Katie, although that’s not her name.

And she says, “almost at every meeting, after I say something, my boss speaks up right after me often repeats exactly the same thing I said, or maybe sometimes adds a small nuance or an additional detail. It’s bothering me because it feels like he doesn’t think that what I can say, can stand on its own merit, or that I haven’t done a good job explaining it. And I also feel like it sends a message to the rest of the team, that I don’t have any authority behind what I say. And they need to affirm in order for it to have real meaning. How can I articulate this in a way that is constructive? Has anybody else experienced this? And how did you resolve it?” So I think, Katie, our fictional Katie’s question, is a really important one. And it is one that a lot of people in this group could really identify with. So I want to start by acknowledging that people identified with this in a couple of different ways.

Some people felt like they had experienced this in a deliberate way that either their boss or a colleague that they work with is frequently and in a pattern is doing this. And they felt that it was deliberate, that there was sort of, you know, trying to steal their thunder, trying to literally take credit for their ideas. Other people felt that they had experienced this, but they weren’t really sure that there was any, you know, malice or mal intent behind it. But that, nonetheless, that their contribution was sort of invisible, and that they were being overlooked. And although their ideas were really good, and so people were getting very excited about their ideas, but they were getting very excited about them as though they were someone else’s idea, which, of course, does not help her valuable contributions be seen and recognized, which, you know, then downstream does not help her really achieve the career advancement and progression that puts you both wants and deserves. So, to this group, we had a conversation about, you know, what can you do when that kind of thing is happening. And a few really great ideas came forth, so I’m going to list them here.

So the first possible solution to this is really extremely direct. And so whether this works for you or not, it’s a very, very direct way, where you might just speak up in that meeting, while this is happening, and say, you know, I’m so glad that you like my idea, or thank you for echoing my idea. Thank you for putting your energy behind my idea. Of course, right now, on the podcast, I’m really emphasizing my idea. I think if you’re going to do this, it’s extremely direct and potentially risky, because it may not come across in the way that you hope. I mean, certainly you do want to get recognition for your thinking and your contributions, but you don’t want to come across as somebody who doesn’t recognize the contributions of others or who isn’t a team player. So you will want to be careful in how you do this. I think doing this in writing is probably not a good idea. It’s

Probably very easily misconstrued in that way. But if you feel like you can say this in a way that will land Well, you might just want to take that very direct approach. And, you know, thank that person for speaking up and building on your idea. And, and once you’ve sort of said that you don’t need to separate on it. But once you’ve said that, that’s your idea, then that really puts a plant a flag in the ground around your contribution.

Another possible approach is to have an ally, and you would need to sort of set this up in advance. But you could do that if you have somebody in your workplace, where you frequently attend the same meetings, you know, you work closely with the same person, and that you sort of have agreed for each other, that if this kind of thing happens, that you’ll be the one to speak up on their behalf. So it would look very similar to the first idea except for that there’s a third party involved. So in this case, if I were fictional, Katie’s ally in the meeting, rather than Katie having to say, you know, thanks so much for building on my idea, I could speak up and say, Yeah, that’s great. It sounds just like what Katie just said. So it sounds like there’s consensus, right? There’s a lot of, you know, mutual agreement, or mutual energy around this idea that we just heard Katie say, and if so, if you have an ally, like that setup, where you’ll do that for them, and they do that for you, that may be a more strategic and perhaps less risky way of ensuring that credit gets shared. And that credit gets allocated in the way that it is due.

Now, the third suggestion, sort of a version of that, which is just to show up and be an ally. So this doesn’t help you directly, or at least not at first. But if you just start to pay very careful attention to when other people have made contributions, and it doesn’t go recognized for you to just to begin to, but you know, stop and acknowledge, stop and recognize, stop and really share around all of the credit, and acknowledge and recognize everybody at the meeting, especially people whose contributions are important, but seem to sort of not land at a time that everyone is paying attention, or is not garnering that, that recognition. And if you begin to do that, that may change the culture a little bit, it may cause other people to do that. And certainly, people that you do that for may start to do that for you in return, even though it’s not, you know, a formal agreement, it’s not a strategic alliance. But if you just start to really be a very generous ally to others, then maybe you’ll find that that starts to flow out. And people will do that for you. And just that there may be the culture of a meeting starts to change in that regard, which might be very helpful, really, for everybody.

Now, the fourth idea, I thought was very interesting. And I have, again, these are the ideas shared by this group. It’s… and these are not all my ideas. This idea in particular came from another one of the members in the group, and I thought it was really very, very insightful. And it’s a version of number one of, you know, thanks for building on my idea. But it shows a depth of understanding that others simply cannot borrow or cannot capture. So if you state an idea, and then somebody else, basically restates your idea, and then there’s some enthusiasm around it, and it seems like your part was invisible, but their part, you know, people are really garnering around that, then you can bring that conversation back and say, yes, you know, this is such, this is such an important idea.

When I was thinking critically about this earlier, or you know, that’d be last week, last year, or whatever I was thinking, and then you lay out some depth of understanding. So you make some comments, you know, A, B, and C, that really show that you have subject matter expertise, and that you have mastery over the subject. And that, in fact, you have been thinking about it beyond just the sort of headline that’s being talked about in the meeting right now. And so when you do that, you really unpack and demonstrate your specific expertise and value there. And since it’s, if it is your idea, and you have been thinking about it for some time, really, nobody else is going to be able to match that.

And so you have had the same effect of saying, you know, yes, thank you for amplifying or building on my idea. But you won’t have had to say it quite that way. And you will be able to show a certain value that’s really more important, really than whose idea Is it right? It’s not really turf war, like this is your idea or my idea, but the depth of your thinking and what you bring to the table. I mean, that’s really what’s important. That’s why it’s important that you get recognition and credit for things that you bring to the table. And because you are uniquely you, right and without you that wouldn’t be at the table. So one way to really ensure that, that lands is to add some depth and, you know, some sort of sub bullets, if you will, about your thinking on the idea that really shows you have mastery there.

And then the fifth idea that came up, which I think again is very, very clever, and and really likely to be very high yield is to have the conversation offline, with the person who is doing this. So in the case that we were discussing, this was a habitual event, right? This is happening all the time with the same person, I suppose you could do this, though, with someone who’s just done something once or twice, is very elegant, because it will work if it’s your boss. And it will also work if it is just a colleague, because you’ll be approaching them by putting them sort of in a frame of the expert or the mentor. And this is what was suggested that basically, you approach that person offline, and you say, hey, I’ve noticed recently that in meetings, you have been amplifying my ideas. And I really appreciate that. So you’re starting with an acknowledgment that that’s what they’re doing, and, and giving some appreciation for it. And what you’re doing there, I think, is preserving the relationship, putting that person in a place of sort of authority, where their words at least have authority, even if they have no managerial authority over you. And you are expressing appreciation for their perceived teamwork with you, which may not be how you feel about it, right, or you wouldn’t be having this conversation. But it is something that is great for the relationship. And it assumes positive intent, which I think is very important when you’re having difficult conversations is just to assume positive intent unless you know otherwise. So right now you don’t. So thanks so much for amplifying my ideas at meetings recently, I wonder if you could give me some feedback, that would help me so that when I give my ideas, they stand on their own, and they don’t need that kind of amplification in order to have real meaning. So then what you’ve done there is you’ve asked for feedback. And this is a genuine ask, we can all always be better at how we communicate things. And now you’ve asked someone who is either your boss or a colleague who does seem to be able to communicate things in a way that people get excited about.

For feedback on how you might do that yourself. Maybe they’ll have something to share with you that you could learn and you could incorporate that actually would make your words stand on their own and would be helpful in ensuring that you get that professional visibility.

But the other thing that this does, is it allows them to understand that when they speak up right after your idea, whether they’re amplifying it on purpose, or they’re trying to feel the thunder, that they understand that what that does for you is make you feel marginalized and that your words are invisible, and that your contribution is unimportant. So now, if they know that that’s an opportunity for them, to change their approach, and of course, this conversation will be more than three sentences, right? So you may, you might spend more time in that space, talking about how it makes you feel, so that they might be able to change their approach. So that next time, they might more specifically say, “I want to build on Katie’s great idea”, or “I want to acknowledge Katie for that great idea, here’s what I think,” it’s important to write something like that. So if they have that positive intent, and that’s what they’re basically trying to do, maybe they will actually change the way they show up and start doing it that way. And maybe they’ve given you some advice that helps you to articulate things the first time in a way that lands really, really positively. And you’ve preserved some relationships, and basically had an opportunity to call out the behavior. So that one, I’m putting it last, this, I saved the best for last, I actually think that’s one of the very best obviously, in the moment, it’s great to use ideas, one through four that we just discussed. But outside the immediate moment, this one may actually be the most impactful because it not only deepens relationships and potentially gives you something to take away, right it actually offers an opportunity for your professional development and, and an improvement of your skills, not just an opportunity to get credit for what you’re bringing to the table.

So there you have it, five possible approaches for handling when somebody else takes credit for your ideas, so that you can ensure you have the professional visibility and recognition that you deserve. So that you can continue to advance your career in the way that is warranted. You bring a lot of value to the table. People need to see it, they need to know about it in order to be able to leverage it, get the best from you and also promote you in the way that you deserve. I hope you’ve enjoyed this, please do reach out to me if you have other ideas about this or a question that you’d like to see addressed on a future episode. And again, if you are a woman physician working in industry and biotech medical device or pharma, please do pop over and join this group is really, really fantastic. It’s just a networking connection.

It’s not it’s not a formal program. It’s, you know, come when you can. And obviously, it’s free. I mean, it’s just a way for us to professionally connect. If you are interested in a transition, but you’re not yet employed in industry, I can help you there as well. So do be sure to click the links in the show notes. And check that out because I know it’s a really rewarding career, an important way to be able to make a great impact for patients and also to feel really fulfilled using your training as a physician, a really fantastic career. That’s all for today. Bye for now.

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