Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

CreditHarry Truman once said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish, if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

And while there’s a lot of truth in that statement, the reality is, most people like to be recognized for the hard work they do.

We’ve all faced experiences at one point or another in our careers where someone else took credit for our work. Perhaps your manager got the public recognition for a project you did 75 percent of the leg work on. Or, you were part of team effort to accomplish a major task, and somehow, one team member ended up being congratulated just a little more heartily than the rest.

When employees are regularly over-looked, and not given credit where it is due, eventually they’ll stop working as hard. They will have learned that giving 110 percent isn’t really worth the effort. At best you’ll end up with sub-standard output. At worst, you will lose good employees as they look elsewhere to be rewarded for their knowledge and experience.

And you don’t want either of those thing happening in your organization.

Sachin H. Jain wrote about this issue in a recent post for Harvard Business Review. He has led teams in in government, academia, clinical medicine, and the private sector, and as such has devised his own set of rules to help manage ‘giving credit where credit is due’.

Here are his top three:

Keep People Honest

Some people are naturally better at ‘tooting their own horn’. Others have learned to do so because of past jobs with dysfunctional leadership. Jain writes, “Individuals whose careers developed in organizations where they had to fend for themselves will often err on the side of overstating their contributions.” If you have a star player, who might be overstating their contributions, figure out the root cause, and make it clear that excessive self-promotion is not a character trait you want in your employees.

Recognize Those Who Recognize Others

Jain tells a story in his article about an experience early on in his career. “…I took a few moments to send e-mails to thank individuals who had helped make a project of mine successful and copied my boss. My boss, in turn, scheduled time with me to thank me for taking the time to recognize others. In doing so, he sent an important message that he valued this type of behavior, and it became a habit: Ever since then, I’ve religiously sent similar e-mails to members of successful teams I’ve led.” Taking the time to recognize others’ contributions – and praising the people who regularly share credit with their team members – goes a long way to forging a solid, productive team environment.

Look Out For and Elevate the Quiet Performers

Some employees will always prefer to stay in the shadows. They are happy to contribute, but their goal is the successful execution of a task or project, and not the praise that might come with it. But, Jain adds, “…people in the guts of an organization often know that some of these individuals are the lynchpins who sustain a project or unit.” Take the time to find out who the quiet ones are, and make sure you give them a public pat on the back from time to time. They will appreciate it, even from the shadows.

What would you add? Have you watched others take credit for another’s work?