You’ve stayed late, skipped taking lunches and worked over the weekends. Finally, the project is finished.
The accolades are rolling in … just not to you.
Not getting recognition for work — or having someone else get the credit — is a common problem in the office. And most of the time, it’s unintentional.
“You might think all the great work you’re doing is evident to everyone, but everyone else including your boss and your boss’s boss is so busy they don’t always know what you’re doing,” said career management coach Amy Wolfgang.
But there’s a fine line between standing up and getting the recognition you deserve and coming off as arrogant. After all, you are all on the same team.
“For some, self-promotion doesn’t feel natural to them or just feels gross,” said Wolfgang. “But it’s not about being braggy, and it’s not about being self-centered, it’s about advocating what you do and the value you bring.”
If you’ve spent countless hours on a project and don’t get as much as a thumbs-up from your boss, ask for a private meeting to talk about your work.
The key is not to be defensive or emotional. Explain the importance of the project and your contributions in a very clear way.
If you are in a meeting and someone is taking unfair credit for your work, speak up, but be tactful.
“You need to shut that down, but remain calm,” said Vicki Salemi, Monster.com’s career expert. “You don’t want to stoop to their level and throw them under the bus or badmouth them, but you still want to make yourself shine.”
She suggests inserting yourself into the conversation with something like: “When I worked on these numbers originally I found the same thing.”
After the meeting, approach the offender calmly and privately and ask why he or she wrongly took credit or didn’t extend any acknowledgment.
Schedule regular check-ins
Set up regular meetings with your manager to discuss ongoing projects, your performance, your career path and any workplace issues.
These meetings are the perfect setting to tout your hard work without coming off as vain.
It’s not about highlighting the day-to-day stuff that you are expected to do in your role. “Showcase your work that is going above and beyond what your boss expects,” said Wolfgang.
Ask yourself: Is it worth it?
Sometimes you aren’t going to get credit for your work, and you have to move on.
“Letting it go might be worthwhile, especially if you aren’t going to work with that person again or it’s not going to affect your career,” said Robert Sutton, professor of management, science and engineering at Stanford University and organizational psychologist. “Everyone should know when you break bad news to bosses or anybody else, they tend to like you less.”
Another question to ask yourself is whether you are seeking too much credit.
It’s common for team members to inflate their contributions to a project, according to Sutton. After all, you are aware of all the long nights and hard work you put in, but you aren’t always aware of everyone else’s sacrifices.
“If your first reaction is someone is taking more credit than they deserve, you might be doing the same thing as well.”
Be the advocate you want others to be
When you acknowledge and celebrate your peer’s achievements, they will be more likely to return the favor.
“If you want others to recognize value, be the person who recognizes value in others,” said Wolfgang.
When you extend recognition to others, it’s a win-win situation.
“If you give other people credit, two things happen: You get as much credit as if you said: ‘I did this myself,’ and you also get the additional attribution of generosity and making people feel better that you gave them credit,” said Sutton.
Spread the word
Gossiping in the workplace is generally not a good idea, but you can do it in a way that can help your work get noticed.
Review your social network at work and find someone who is close to your boss who might be able to casually mention your hard work and the overlooked credit.
“Maybe your boss has a peer or friend of yours that has a closer relationship to get the word back to them,” said Sutton.
A mentor can also help promote your work, but you can’t always rely on others to help you get deserved recognition.
“For the most part, you have to look at yourself as your best advocate,” said Wolfgang. “Look at what is in your control and out of your control. What is out of control is someone noticing the work. What is in your control is showcasing your work to your boss.”